Centrelink Q&A: Carer fears future

Jane cares for her husband and receives a Carer Allowance. She is concerned about the future and what would happen if her husband were to pass away. 


Q. Jane
I am a carer for my husband and I am looking into the future, even though I don’t like to think about it. If I outlive my husband, how will my Centrelink payment change? Do I go back on Newstart, do voluntary work and report every fortnight? I won’t be eligible for the Aged Pension until I am 67!

After looking after my husband for so long I was hoping to rest and take stock for a year if the worse were to happen. Does Centrelink make any allowances for people like me who are literally ‘spent’ after being a carer for years?

We are not wealthy with assets or money in the bank and ‘holiday’ isn’t in our vocabulary. I was born in 1959 so I am not eligible for the Widow’s Allowance.

A. Centrelink says that in the event of the death of a partner, child or person in care, carers will continue to receive their payment for 14 weeks to allow them time to grieve and to seek other income support.

They may also be eligible for a Bereavement Payment, which is paid as a lump sum. The type of Bereavement Payment, and the amount, will depend on individual circumstances.

Carers receiving the Carer Allowance and an income support payment (other than the carer payment) that does not qualify them for a Bereavement Payment, may receive a Carer Allowance Bereavement Payment of up to seven instalments of Carer Allowance. This is paid as a lump sum.

For people who are no longer eligible for the Carer Allowance and have not reached Age Pension age, the department will assist in identifying the most appropriate form of income support – most likely the Newstart Allowance, subject to eligibility.

Newstart recipients aged 55 and over can meet their required work or job search activity –  known as mutual obligation requirements – by doing at least 30 hours per fortnight of suitable paid work, self-employment, approved voluntary work or a mix of these.

Centrelink says: “We may provide an exemption from mutual obligation requirements in the case of a major event, such as the death of an immediate family member.”

It adds that its network of social workers provides information, support and short-term counselling for anyone going through difficult times, particularly with the death of a family member, and can assist with the transition to new payments.

Make an appointment to speak with a social worker at your nearest service centre or call the Centrelink employment services line on 132 850.

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If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

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