How to know if you qualify for the carer’s allowance

Rosario is caring for a husband with dementia and wants to know if she can be compensated.

Centrelink Q&A: Carer’s allowance

Rosario is caring for a husband with dementia and wants to know if she qualifies for the carer’s allowance.


Q. Rosario
I am 73 years old and still working part time as a registered nurse, three days a fortnight. My husband is 81 years old 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’s 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's 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

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 and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.


    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.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    3rd Dec 2018
    It sounds like the husband is indeed a candidate for having a carer especially if he needs help with everyday needs like food, bathing, dressing, etc.
    She can be working as well not just if she is home all the time. It is all clearly explained on the Centrelink website.
    3rd Dec 2018
    The Guv'nah needs to look at these issues carefully - paying a spouse a pittance (coffee money) is cheaper than paying subsidies to companies that send around a 'carer' part-time.....

    I had to return 'home' when the ex became disabled - I was living totally separate - even had me a Chinee lass visit one time - and had no trouble getting the carer allowance (not pension).

    The costs are bigger than the cash - this week, for instance, it's only two trips of an hour or so each way (so far), and even at $20 a trip for petrol, anyone who knows can work out that the real cost of the trip is $80+ when calculated including wear and tear etc and not even including time for the driver.

    $130 doesn't go very far under those circumstances - which leads me to consider a higher rate for country folk required to travel distances for specialists etc.

    (here's a chance for the bastard community here to weigh in and say it's their own fault for living in the bush, the same ones who want all the oldies to sell up and move to the bush etc for cheaper rents and stuff - funny how that kind will always want it all ways to suit themselves)....
    3rd Dec 2018
    If there is significant travel involved - look up IPTAAS - state government initiative that pays so much per km.
    old frt
    3rd Dec 2018
    Hi Rosario,
    Use any sick leave you may have accumulated at work as carer leave then take all your holidays and then your long service leave ,then retire, you sound like you have worked for long enough . Sell the investment property and invest the balance along with some of your hard earned cash into super while you are still eligible under the work test requirement , or you can each earn over $20000 tax free investing outside of super . Then you can spend some quality time with your husband and give him all the time and attention you wish and hopefully get a part pension .
    Good Luck to you both .
    3rd Dec 2018
    Tell 'em it's domestic violence and cop ten extra days free....
    3rd Dec 2018
    Sensible advice. She needs to see an independent fee charging advisor schooled in super and centrelink benefits ASAP. Holding assets like property with debt at this age is crazy when income isn't enough for living costs and services needed.
    3rd Dec 2018
    I agree OF, sensible comments, and she needs to see both the Centrelink FISO and a paid Financial Adviser immediately. Can't understand, based on the information presented, why she is woking at all and only getting a low part pension - given the low assets mentioned. Or why they have a rental unit with a mortgage. The timing of financial actions as you mentioned is also very important.

    Also, must get in touch with Aged Care and get a package of assistance from them, as they are over 65.

    If only we had a decent Govt (missing on both sides), Universal Pension without any asset or income tests would have been given, and avoided a lot of difficult analyses & decisions due to the complex mess we have.
    3rd Dec 2018
    Interesting. Given the paltry rental received I wonder whether it would be better to sell the unit, pay off the mortgage, and invest the balance. This may drop the assets below the thresh hold thus giving them each a larger part pension which may be more than the amount paid from working. This would permit the lady to cease working and care for her partner thus possibly enabling her in achieving carer status and getting a carer payment as well. She really needs some good financial advice to establish the optimum arrangement of assets and income.
    3rd Dec 2018
    I don't get it! How much does a person want and how long will they work for an extra few dollars? One assumes she owns her house, so why the unit with a mortgage at 73 and 80 odd? Sell the unit you obviously will make money there, you'll have $400,000 for retirement, plus any pension. This person need to speak to a centrelink financial officer or read up on it.
    That's money that some people even in here only DREAM of. Sorry I think there is an element of greed kicking in here, ridiculous IMHO
    3rd Dec 2018
    Agree HD
    Looks like they have plenty but just want to maximize handouts
    3rd Dec 2018
    The husband is a candidate for you to receive carer allowance. Unfortunately dementia patients should not left alone so would need someone to come and mind the husband while she is out. Best to get seek financial advice.
    3rd Dec 2018
    False. Dementia patients can be left alone. It depends on their degree of dementia, and how it manifests.
    3rd Dec 2018
    We allow politicians a free run, after all.. why not other demented personages?

    3rd Dec 2018
    Use your cash to pu off the investment property mortgage
    3rd Dec 2018
    Totally agree. The mortgage should be paid off, thus saving interest payments and possibly increasing pension, depending on how the assets are structured.

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