Advance payments from Centrelink

From time to time we all find ourselves needing a little extra money and this is where Centrelink’s Advance Payment Scheme is useful but how will the recent changes affect those who use this service?

Q. Brian

My wife and I have found the Advance payment scheme very supportive. We now believe the scheme has changed and increased to $750, twice a year.

Will you please clarify this for us and when can we access payment?

A. Changes to the Advance Payment Scheme were implemented on 1 July 2010, with the purpose to assist those who live on a pension to better manage their finances. Greater flexibility in relation to the frequency and amounts of Advance Payment should help Centrelink customers in times of need but what is an Advance Payment?

An Advance Payment is paid as a lump sum from your future entitlement and is repaid by you to Centrelink via your fortnightly payments, therefore spreading the cost of repayments.

How much is available to me?

How much you can request is dependant on how much benefit you receive. The minimum amount you can request is 1 week of the maximum basic pension relevant to your relationship status (i.e. single or couple rate), plus the part of the Pension Supplement which is paid above the minimum rate.

The maximum you can request is 3 weeks of the maximum basic pension relevant to your relationship status (i.e. single or couple rate), plus the part of the Pension Supplement amount. For example: if you receive a full single Age Pension, you can request a maximum of $1005.74 in a 26 week period (= 13 fortnightly payments), repaid at $77.40 per fortnight. If you receive a part pension, the maximum you can request depends on how much pension you receive.

How often can I request an advance payment?

In a 26 week period, you can request up to three advance payments as long as you do not exceed the maximum amount available to you. For example:

Advance payment 1 – $500 to pay for car repairs

Advance payment 2 – you need money to buy Christmas presents. You can request up to the maximum available minus the $500 you have already been advanced.

Will I automatically qualify for an Advance Payment?

Centrelink will only advance you an amount of money which they believe you can comfortably repay without facing financial hardship.

Can I pay the money back before the 13 fortnights period ends?

You can pay additional amounts in cash at your nearest Centrelink Customer Service Centre.

What if my payment changes or I stop receiving a payment from Centrelink?

If your payment changes, i.e. you move from DSP to The Age Pension, then your repayment will be taken from your new payment. If your payments stop then you are still liable to repay the money and arrangement will be made to do so by Centrelink.

For more information on Advance Payments, click YOURLifeChoices link to the Centrelink website.

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