Centrelink Q&A: ‘Can I apply for the Carer Allowance?’

Older couple

Rose is caring for a husband with dementia and wants to know if she qualifies for the Carer Allowance.


Q. Rose
I am 73 and still working part time as a registered nurse, three days a fortnight. My husband is 81 and is now retired. I would like to retire before I turn 75 but because we are not getting enough pension from the government due to our assets, I have to continue working to supplement the income I am getting from my superannuation. My take-home money, which is less than $500 a fortnight, is not enough to support us.

We have a unit delivering rental income ($251 per week), but we still owe $56,000 on the mortgage and have to pay body corporate fees, water, rates, etc. We also have $200,000 in the bank and $250,000 in my super. Centrelink gives us $37.50 each a fortnight or sometimes nothing if my gross income reaches $2500. I sometimes work extra shifts when required.

My husband is suffering from dementia and needs a lot of care. Since I am his carer, I just wonder if I can apply for a Carer Allowance if I retire.

I am just too tired to work and look after my husband at the same time. Can you please enlighten me on what to do?

A. Without knowing the full details about the severity of your husband’s condition, it is not possible for us to know if you will be eligible for the Carer Allowance. However, to be eligible for the payment you must be giving additional daily care and attention to someone because they:

    • have a disability or severe illness
    • are frail aged.

The person receiving care must:

    • score high enough on the Adult Disability Assessment Determination 1999 (ADAT)
    • be likely to have the illness or disability for at least 12 months, unless it’s terminal
    • get care from you in their home, your home or in hospital.

There is no assets test for the Carer Allowance, but there is an income test. Your and your partner’s combined adjusted taxable income must be under $250,000 a year.

A Centrelink Financial Services officer will be able to explain whether you are eligible for the payment. You can contact one by calling 13 2300.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

Do you claim the Carer Allowance? Is it meeting your needs? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Can I replace my work with a part pension?

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.

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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