Carer payments made simple

Not all Centrelink carer payments are created equal. The type of relationship the carer has with the person they are caring for will determine the size of the payment.

If your spouse is your carer, the amount of money he or she can claim will depend on their income and to what extent they have had to give up work in order to care for you.

There are two main benefits available to people who have a carer arrangement: Carer Payment and Carer Allowance. To receive these, both the carer and the person being cared for need to meet eligibility criteria.

First, both must have been Australian residents for two years and must be living here for the duration of the benefit.

To claim the Carer Payment, you must be providing uninterrupted care in the home of the person who has a severe disability or illness, or is frail and aged. This payment is subject to income and assets tests, and is only available to those who are prevented from earning a wage because of their carer duties. The income of the person receiving the care is also assessed and will determine whether a payment is made.

The top-up Carer Allowance, on the other hand, is not means-tested.

For both payments, the person receiving the care must score highly on the Adult Disability Assessment Tool  (ADAT). This form comprises two questionnaires that measure the amount of help the care receiver needs to perform basic activities. These can relate to mobility, communication, hygiene, eating and assistance with tasks requiring cognitive use.

Questions are also asked about the care receiver’s emotional state, behaviour and special  needs.

In the case of an illness, unless it is terminal, the person requiring care is expected to be sick for at least another six months for their carer to receive a Carer Payment, or a year for the Carer Allowance.

To claim the allowance, the care can be provided in the ill or disabled person’s home, the carer’s home or in a hospital.

A medical report on the carer’s health status must accompany an application for the Carer Payment.

If you both qualify and are already receiving a Centrelink payment or other income, the allowance will be added to it.

Do you have a carer, and are they paid? What is your relationship with your carer?

Written by Olga Galacho

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