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Centrelink payments and entitlements and work bonus

1 July 2020

While there are many different Centrelink payments and entitlements available, in this flyer we have outlined the criteria for the most common allowances, pensions and benefit cards.

Centrelink benefits

Age pension:

The age pension is available to eligible individuals who have attained age pension age.

The age pension age increases incrementally until it reaches age 67 on 1 July 2023. Refer to the table below.

Date of birth between Age eligible for age pension
Before 1 January 1954 Attained
1 January 1954 and 30 June 1955 66
1 July 1955 and 31 December 1956 66½
From 1 January 1957 67

Qualifying criteria

To qualify for Age Pension you must:

  • have reached age pension age
  • be an Australian resident and in Australia when the claim is lodged
  • have been an Australian resident for a continuous period of 10 years or for a number of periods that total more than 10 years, at least 5 of these years in one continuous period (exceptions apply).

JobSeeker Payment:

This allowance can assist you financially whilst you are out of work.

Qualifying criteria

To qualify for JobSeeker Payment all of the following criteria must be met:

  • be unemployed
  • unless exempted, participate in or be willing to participate in approved activities and/or job search
  • enter into, comply with or vary an existing Job Plan to fulfil the activity test
  • be 22 years of age or over but under age pension age, and
  • be an Australian resident and be living in Australia for the period of payment.

Depending on their age and how long they have been receiving JobSeeker Payment, JobSeekers aged 55 or over may choose to satisfy part or all of their obligation to seek full-time work through approved voluntary work, paid employment (including self-employment), or a combination of these activities.

JobSeeker Payment is subject to both the Centrelink income and assets tests*.

*Note: The asset test for JobSeeker Payment was temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.

Parenting Payment:

This allowance is paid to the main carer of a child. Only one parent or guardian can receive the payment.

Qualifying criteria

You may be eligible to receive Parenting Payment if you:

  • are single and care for at least one child aged less than eight
  • have a partner and care for at least one child aged less than six.

Parenting Payment is subject to both the Centrelink income and assets tests*, so the amount you may receive depends on your situation.

Residency requirements also apply. To qualify, you generally need to be an Australian resident and in Australia on the day on which you lodge your claim. You must be:

  • an Australian citizen, or
  • the holder of a permanent resident visa.

*Note: The asset test for Parenting Payment was temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.

Carer Allowance:

This fortnightly allowance is available to an individual who provides care to a person who is disabled or has a severe medical condition that requires a significant level of personal care.

Qualifying criteria

To qualify you must satisfy both of the conditions below:

  • You are looking after a child under 16 or a person aged 16 years or over who has a disability, medical condition and requires care and attention on a daily basis
  • You provide the care for that person in either your home or the home of that person.

Carer Allowance is not subject to the Centrelink assets test and is not taxable. The carer and their partner’s combined adjusted taxable income must be less than $250,000 a year.

Disability Support Pension:

Disability Support Pension (DSP) can be of assistance if you have a disability that prohibits you from working.

Qualifying criteria

You may receive a Disability Support Pension if:

  • you are 16 years or over
  • you are an Australian resident and in Australia when you claim
  • you are permanently blind, or
  • you have been assessed as having a physical, intellectual, or psychiatric impairment.

To assess your eligibility, a report from your doctor or specialist about your disability, injury or illness will be required. You may also need to have a job capacity assessment.

Disability Support Pension is subject to the Centrelink income and assets test, except if you are permanently blind.

Centrelink entitlements

Pharmaceutical Allowance:

This allowance can assist you to purchase the prescription medications you need and is included as a non-taxable payment.

Qualifying criteria

You may qualify for the Pharmaceutical Allowance if you are currently receiving an eligible allowance or payment.

Health Care Card (HCC):

If you are eligible for Centrelink payments, you may also be eligible for a health care card, which provides you with discounted medication, through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Extended Medicare Safety Net. Concessions for health care, public transport, energy and water bills, may also be available, which vary from state to state.

Qualifying criteria

To qualify you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must currently be in receipt of a qualifying social security benefit (eg JobSeeker Payment)
  • You must be a resident of, and live in, Australia.

Pensioner Concession Card:

The Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) provides you and your dependants with the following benefits:

  • PBS-listed prescription medicines at the concessional rate
  • A reduction in the cost of out-of-hospital medical expenses, through the Extended Medicare Safety Net
  • Help with certain hearing services which include hearing tests and hearing aids
  • Bulk-billed general practitioner appointments, at the discretion of the doctor.

State and territory governments and local councils may offer concessions on utility bills, council and water rates, public transport and motor vehicle registration.

Qualifying criteria

To qualify you must:

  • be a resident of, and live in, Australia
  • be receiving Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payment (Single) and Carer Payment, or
  • be age 60 years or over and receiving JobSeeker Payment, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Parenting Payment (Partnered), Sickness Allowance, or Special Benefit, and have been in continuous receipt of one or more of these payments (or an income support pension) for nine months or more
  • had your pension payment cancelled on 1 January 2017 due to changes to the pension assets test.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC):

The CSHC is targeted at self-funded retirees of age pension age who do not qualify for an age pension because of their assets and/or income.

To qualify, you must:

  • be at least age pension age
  • be an Australian resident, or be in Australia when you make the claim
  • have an annual adjustable taxable income of less than $55,808 (single) and $89,290 (couple combined).

Adjusted taxable income (ATI) – Definition

ATI for tax year will be the sum of your:

  • taxable income
  • reportable fringe benefits (in excess of $2,000)
  • target foreign income
  • net rental property loss
  • net financial investment loss
  • salary sacrifice contributions and personal deductible contributions to superannuation
  • deemed income from account-based pensions, except those which commenced prior to 1 January 2015 and are grandfathered.

Benefits of the CSHC

The CSHC provides holders with:

  • PBS-listed prescription medicines at the concessional rate
  • a reduction in the cost of out-of-hospital medical expenses above a concessional threshold, through the Extended Medicare Safety Net
  • access to PBS prescriptions, generally without charge, for the remainder of the calendar year after reaching the PBS Safety Net
  • bulk-billed general practitioner appointments, at the discretion of the doctor

CSHC holders may also receive concessions for transport, council and water rates, utility bills and motor vehicle registration.

Rent assistance

If you have limited means and pay rent to a private landlord for accommodation, you may qualify for rent assistance. Rent assistance is paid in addition to a pension, allowance or benefit that you may receive.

Qualifying criteria

You may qualify for rent assistance if you pay more than a certain amount for:

  • rent (other than for public housing)
  • fees paid for a caravan site or similar, which you occupy as your principal home
  • service and maintenance fees in a retirement village (special rules apply)
  • fees paid to moor a vessel you occupy as your principal home, or
  • lodging (if you pay for board and lodging it is generally two thirds of the amount paid unless the payment for lodging is identifiable).

Pensioners, allowees and those receiving more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A may be eligible for Rent Assistance.

Work Bonus

The Work Bonus is an incentive for pensioners of age pension age to work by allowing a certain amount of employment or self-employment income to be disregarded under the Centrelink income test.

If you receive employment income, and/or self-employment income, the work bonus will be automatically applied to reduce that income for the purpose of the income test.

  • The first $300 per fortnight of eligible income is disregarded and any unused amount (between zero and $300) is added to your Work Bonus balance, to a maximum of $7,800.
  • The Work Bonus balance is used to offset any future eligible income you earn that exceeds $300 in a fortnight.

All pensioners over age pension age (other than those receiving the transitional rate of pension) are eligible for the Work Bonus.

The Work Bonus applies to eligible income, paid inside Australia and outside Australia, including:

  • salary, wages, commissions, employment related fringe benefits
  • leave payments (excluding those paid by a former employer in relation to termination of employment)
  • business income, including where the business is operated as a sole trader, partnership, or through a private trust or company.
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