The first day of the year promises to be significant for some Aussies, including some carers. And New Year’s Eve party hangovers won’t necessarily be the reason.
For almost a million Australians, 1 January marks the day their Centrelink payments receive an annual inflation boost.
This year, those who qualify will receive 6.0 per cent increase in their regular payments. That sounds rather impressive, but it simply aligns with Australia’s current inflation rate. So most of those receiving the Centrelink increase will be treading water from a finance perspective.
The 936,000 Australians to receive the boost comprise those who receive youth, student or carer support through Centrelink.
Aren’t Centrelink payment CPI increases delivered twice a year?
Yes and no. JobSeeker payments are indexed to inflation, but the index increases are delivered twice a year in March and September. The same applies to those on the Age Pension.
But for those who receive Austudy, Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY, Disability Support Pension or Carer Allowance, an annual January increase applies.
What about carers?
Most Australians over 50 won’t be affected by an Austudy payment increase from Centrelink. But it’s a different story for those who receive the Carer Allowance. Those who do will enjoy the benefit of the 6.0 per cent increase on 1 January.
Yet even this good news might cause confusion among carers. Some might ask, ‘Didn’t I receive a half-yearly CPI increase in September?’ To which the answer, if you receive the Carer Allowance, will be ‘yes’.
But that September increase was to your Carer Payment, not your Carer Allowance.
Pretty simple, eh? That’s a rhetorical question, dripping with sarcasm, in case you didn’t pick that up.
Basically, the Carer Payment and the Carer Allowance are two different things, although both are payments made via Centrelink. Some Australians qualify to receive one, others to receive both.
Carer Payment versus Carer Allowance
According to Services Australia, the Carer Payment is: “A payment if you give constant care to someone with disability or a medical condition, or an adult who’s frail aged.”
This payment can help you if you provide constant care to someone for at least six months. And also if you’re caring for someone at the end of their life.
The Centrelink definition of ‘constant care’ is that you “provide care for a large amount of time daily. This is roughly equal to a normal working day. This care stops you from working full time.”
The Carer Payment is paid fortnightly, with CPI index adjustments made in March and September.
The Carer Allowance is a separate (although related) payment. Like the Carer Payment it is provided fortnightly to those who care for someone who needs daily support. And as with the Carer Payment, those requiring support include the frail aged and those who have a terminal medical condition.
In most cases the Carer Allowance is supplementary, paid in addition to the Carer Payment. It is also indexed to CPI, but unlike the Carer Payment, the Carer Allowance is made annually on 1 January.
In summary from Centrelink
While the inner workings of Centrelink remain an enigma to most, the key takeaway here is that those who receive the Carer Allowance will get a 6.0 per cent increase on 1 January.
This will come on top of the Carer Payment CPI increase you received on 20 September. And you will get another CPI increase to your Carer Payment in March.
Rest assured, though, you are not double dipping, and these increases come with Centrelink’s blessing.
Do you receive the Carer Allowance? Did you know about the 1 January annual increase? Are you happy with the commitment to greater transparency? Let us know via the comments section below.
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