Separated under one roof

YOURLifeChoices subscriber Pam is her husband’s carer but they are married in name only. She is keen to know how Centrelink will view their relationship when she applies for the Age Pension.

Q. Pam
My husband is on an Age Pension and I’m on a Carers Pension because I’m his carer. Even though we live in the same home, we have been living separated for some time.
Would I be eligible to apply for a single Age Pension or would I first need to get a legal separation?

A. Provided by Centrelink
In most cases, Australian Government payments and services you receive are affected by your relationship status – whether you are a single person or partnered. You can apply for Centrelink to formally recognise that you are “separated under one roof”.

To determine whether two people are single or members of a couple, it is necessary under the Social Security Act 1991 to consider all the circumstances relevant to a relationship. Centrelink may ask you various questions about the relationship, including the following:

the reasons you are continuing to live together (e.g. cultural reasons or care needs);
how your relationship has changed;
whether you share the same bedroom;
whose name is on the lease or mortgage; or
how the household bills are paid.

A decision is made by weighing up the evidence of all the factors including evidence which indicates that no member of a couple relationship exists. If you do not agree with the determination you may seek review of the decision.

For information on how to apply, contact your relevant payment contact number.