Centrelink Q&A: Carer fears future

Liza cares for her husband and receives a Carer Allowance. She is concerned about the future and what would happen if her husband were to pass away.


Q. Liza
I am a carer for my husband and I am looking into the future, even though I don’t like to think about it. If I outlive my husband, how will my Centrelink payment change? Do I go back on Newstart now Jobseeker, do voluntary work and report every fortnight? I won’t be eligible for the Age Pension until I am 67!

After looking after my husband for so long I was hoping to rest and take stock for a year if the worse were to happen. Does Centrelink make any allowances for people like me who are literally ‘spent’ after being a carer for years?

We are not wealthy with assets or money in the bank and ‘holiday’ isn’t in our vocabulary.  I am not eligible for the Widow’s Allowance.

Read: How will shared housing affect the Age Pension

A. Centrelink says that in the event of the death of a partner, child or person in care, carers will continue to receive their payment for 14 weeks to allow them time to grieve and to seek other income support.

You may also be eligible for a bereavement payment, which is paid as a lump sum. The type of bereavement payment, and the amount, will depend on individual circumstances.

Carers receiving the Carer Allowance and an income support payment (other than the carer payment) that does not qualify them for a bereavement payment, may receive a Carer Allowance Bereavement Payment of up to seven instalments of Carer Allowance. This is paid as a lump sum.

Read: The Age Pension and a de facto partner

You can check how much you are eligible for by using this tool.

The type and amount of bereavement assistance you get depends on all of the following:

  • your individual circumstances
  • your relationship to the person who died
  • when you tell Centrelink about the person’s death.

When you tell Centrelink about your partner’s death, they will work out if you’re eligible and if so, how much you can get.

For people who are no longer eligible for the Carer Allowance and have not reached Age Pension age, the department will assist in identifying the most appropriate form of income support – most likely the JobSeeker payment, subject to eligibility. Newstart no longer exists.

JobSeeker recipients aged 60 and over can meet their required work or job search activity – known as mutual obligation requirements – by doing at least 30 hours per fortnight of suitable paid work, self-employment, approved voluntary work or a mix of these.

Even though jobseekers aged 55 years and over who are satisfying their requirements through undertaking voluntary work or a combination of voluntary and paid work do not have job search or other requirements, they must still be available for additional suitable paid work and must accept all referrals to job interviews that do not interfere with their existing paid work.

Read: How early should we sell our assets to get the Age Pension?

Centrelink says: “We may provide an exemption from mutual obligation requirements in the case of a major event, such as the death of an immediate family member.”

It adds that its network of social workers provides information, support and short-term counselling for anyone going through difficult times, particularly with the death of a family member, and can assist with the transition to new payments.

If you require more support as a carer, there are payments and support services available depending on your situation. Visit here for more information.

Make an appointment to speak with a social worker at your nearest service centre or call the Centrelink employment services line on 132 850.

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.


Janelle Ward
Janelle Wardhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/janellewa
Energetic and skilled editor and writer with expert knowledge of retirement, retirement income, superannuation and retirement planning.
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