Centrelink, is one of the agencies (Medicare and Child Support the other two), which operates under the banner of the Department of Human Service and is responsible for assessing the eligibility for and processing payment of social security benefits.
Such benefit payments that relate to older Australians include (but are not limited to):
- Age Pension – paid to those over the age of 65 as a means of retirement income support. Eligibility for the payment is subject to certain criteria, such as residency and asset and income assessment.
- Newstart Allowance – paid to those who have not yet reached Age Pension eligibility age (65) but who no longer work or work limited hours.
- Disability Support Pension – paid to those who cannot work due to incapacity, limited mobility or long-term illness and is subject to a medical assessment and similar eligibility criteria to the Age Pension.
- Carer Payment – paid to those who provide full time, at home care for someone who is disabled, frail or requires aged care.
- Carer Allowance – paid to those who provide daily care, which may be in additional to profession care, in the home to someone with a disability, medical condition or requires aged care.
- Rent Assistance – paid to those in receipt of a qualifying payment and who require additional assistance to meet their accommodation rental payments.
All Centrelink payments are subject to eligibility, which can revolve around, age, residency, income and assets, medical conditions, work status and the eligibility of those who require care. For certain payment, such as the Age Pension and Newstart, you will be required to report the hours you work and income you receive each fortnight. And for all payments, you will need to advise Centrelink if you are planning to travel overseas.
Generally, payments can be applied for and managed online, through Centrelink’s online services. To use this function, you will need to have a Centrelink account and in the near future, will also require a MyGov account to access such services.
Centrelink can also provide assistance to those who find themselves in financial difficulty, by arranging emergency or advance payments. For those who are entering retirement, Centrelink’s Financial Information Service runs seminars across the country and can help you access information on how to plan and manage your retirement income and savings. This service is free of charge and you don’t have to be a current Centrelink customer to access.
Depending on which payment you receive, you will also be issued with a concession card, which Centrelink also administers. Even if you’re not eligible for an income support payment, you may still receive a concession card if your income is below the required thresholds for the card that best suits your circumstance.