Can your partner apply for JobSeeker if you are on the pension?

Colin is about to apply for the Age Pension and wants to know if his wife is eligible for JobSeeker.

Q. Colin
I am applying for the pension. My wife is only 58 and does not work. Can she apply for Jobseeker?

A. Your wife may be eligible for a JobSeeker payment. To qualify for JobSeeker, applicants must be:

  • at least 22 but under Age Pension age
  • looking for paid work
  • under the income and assets test limits
  • prepared to meet mutual obligation requirements.

Read more: How to sell excess land and keep the Age Pension

Your wife will also need to either meet Centrelink’s definition of unemployed and be looking for work or be sick or injured and unable to partake in her usual work for a short time.

There have also been some temporary changes to eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She may be able to get a JobSeeker payment if her work situation changed as a result of the pandemic. The change in your work situation can be for one of the following reasons. She was:

  • a permanent employee and lost her job
  • a sole trader, self-employed, a casual or contract worker and her income has reduced
  • caring for someone who’s affected by coronavirus.

Read more: Are JobKeeper payments included in annual earnings

The payment rates for JobSeeker are scheduled to change from 1 April. The maximum payment rate for one member of a couple receiving JobSeeker is $560.80 per fortnight.

To receive the JobSeeker payment, your wife must meet her mutual obligation requirements.

Mutual obligation requirements are tasks and activities that your wife must agree to do while getting the JobSeeker Payment from Centrelink.

Read more: Government toying with major reform to Centrelink payments

As your wife is over 55, she can choose to meet her mutual obligation requirements by doing an alternative activity. She will need to spend at least 30 hours per fortnight on this activity. This could be any of the following:

  • suitable paid work
  • self-employment
  • approved voluntary work.

She can do a mix of these options in her 30 hours.

If she wants to do voluntary work, she will need to talk to Centrelink about it. Centrelink must agree the work is suitable and the organisation is an approved voluntary work provider.

She will not be able to do more than 15 hours of voluntary work per fortnight, although this will change when she turns 60, when she will be able to do up to 30 hours of voluntary work per fortnight.

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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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.

Written by Ben