Centrelink Q&A: How do the volunteer requirements work?

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Jane wants to know if volunteering can help her meet her Newstart obligations.

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Q. Jane
I am 60 years old and I have crippling osteoarthritis. I applied for the Disability Service Pension (DSP) approximately two years ago and was rejected. I was then sent to a job provider. One of the girls who worked there was going to help me reapply, but due to her failing health she left. I was advised by my job provider to get a medical certificate for the leg ulcer that I’ve had on and off for the last 10 years which had broken out again. I had a reprieve from my job provider for a year, but now Centrelink is forcing me back, even though their medical assessor stated he thought I should be on the DSP.

I was told I would have to work at least 15 hours a week. I told them I would struggle with that. I could maybe do one day but was told I would have to be on the DSP to do that. If I can’t get the DSP and I’m forced to do something, I would rather do volunteer work, as I’m afraid I would just keep losing jobs because I would struggle with the work and regular attendance. I saw on a government website that if you are 60 and over you only have to work 10 hours per fortnight. But that only applies to non-disabled unemployed people, and they still have to look for so many jobs a fortnight.

My question is: I am over 60 and covered by a job provider for the disabled. If I choose voluntary work for the dole, can I do 10 hours a fortnight, without needing to also look for work?

A. I believe the participation requirements will be the same in your situation.

Annual activity requirements of 10 hours per fortnight were introduced for those aged between 60 and the Age Pension age from the 20 September 2018.

Job seekers aged 60 and over, who are not already fully meeting their mutual obligation requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of voluntary and/or paid work, have an annual activity requirement. This means they are required to undertake 10 hours of activities per fortnight (compared to 30 or 50 hours for younger age groups), in addition to job searches, for six months of each year after their first 12 months on the Newstart payment. The annual activity requirement can be met through any approved activity, including voluntary work.

Job seekers aged 60 and over who are already participating in 10 or more hours per fortnight of voluntary work, paid work, other approved activity or any combination of these are able to use this activity to meet their annual activity requirements. They have to conduct job searches as well, if their provider thinks that is appropriate (unless they are undertaking 30 hours of paid and/or voluntary work, in which case they will have no further requirements).

Do you have a question regarding the Age Pension or other Centrelink benefits?

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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.

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