You should inform Centrelink as soon as possible if you become a single mum, as there are a range of Centrelink benefits you may be eligible to receive. Have a good look online to see what you may be eligible for and write down all the questions and queries you may have before phoning Centrelink or going in to your nearest Centrelink office. You can also claim for each benefit or payment online.
Below is a comprehensive list of what you may be eligible to receive depending on your circumstances. At the bottom of the page are additional benefits that you be eligible for if you have a newborn baby and in other circumstances such as sickness, or if you live in a remote area. Be sure to enquire with Centrelink, as to what you are entitled to.
It’s a bit of a process, but stick with it as it will make your financial life a lot easier. Keep in mind though, as soon as you earn over a certain amount of money, you are not entitled to a large proportion of these entitlements, so don’t budget them in just yet, if you are working.
The Parenting Payment
The Parenting Payment (Single) is income support for parents or guardians to help with the cost of raising children. You may qualify for this payment if you meet certain criteria. Some of these are:
- you are single and care for at least 1 child younger than 8 years of age;
- your income and assets are below certain amounts; and
- you meet residence requirements.
The maximum Parenting Payment (single) that you may be eligible for is $737.10 per fortnight (which includes the Pension Supplement).
Please be aware that depending on your circumstances, you may need to wait for a period of time before receiving your first income support payment.
The Family Tax Benefit
The Family Tax Benefit is a two part payment that helps with the cost of raising children.
Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A is paid for each child. The amount you get is based on your family’s individual circumstances. You may be eligible for FTB Part A if you:
- care for a dependent child who is 0 to 15 years of age, or 16 to 19 years of age and also studying (or otherwise been granted an exception);
- provide care for the child for at least 35% of the time; and
- meet an income test.
The amount of FTB Part A you get paid depends on your actual family income, how many children you have and how old they are.
FTB Part B gives extra help to single parents and families with one main income. You may be eligible for FTB Part B if you care for a child at least 35% of the time who is a dependent:
- child younger than 16 years of age; or
- full time secondary student up until the end of the calendar year in which they turn 18 years of age.
The amount of FTB Part B you get usually depends on the age of your youngest child and is based on an income test. You also need to meet residence requirements.
The Child Care Rebate
The Child Care Rebate covers 50% of out of pocket child care expenses for approved child care up to $7,500 annually per child, in addition to any other child care assistance. You may be eligible if:
- you use a Child Care Benefit approved child care service;
- you are eligible for Child Care Benefit, even if you earn too much to receive payment; and
- you meet the Work, Training, Study test for Child Care Rebate or are exempt from it.
Child Care Rebate is not income tested.
Once you reach the annual $7,500 limit for a child you will not be entitled to any further rebate until the next financial year. Depending how you receive your rebate, your assistance may stop when you have received 85% of the annual limit for a child. If this happens, any remaining entitlement will be paid after the end of the financial year when Centrelink balances your payments. See our hints and tips page to help you manage your rebate for the year.
The Child Care Benefit
The Child Care Benefit helps with costs for approved and registered care such as long, family or occasional day care, outside school hour care, vacation care, pre-school and kindergarten. To be eligible, you need to:
- use approved or registered child care;
- be responsible for paying the child care fees for your child;
- ensure your child is immunised, on an immunisation catch up schedule, or is exempt from the immunisation requirements; and
- meet the residence requirements.
Approved Child Care
Approved child care services have Australian Government approval to pass on Child Care Benefit as a reduction in child care fees. Approved child care can include:
- long day care;
- family day care;
- outside school hours care;
- vacation care;
- in-home care; and
- occasional care.
The current approved care rate for a non-school aged child is $4.17 per hour, or $208.50 per week.
Payment rates for school aged children are 85% of the non-school aged rate. You can get up to 24 hours of care per child per week without participating in any Work, Training or Study test activities. If you meet the test, or are exempt from it, you can get up to 50 hours of care per child per week.
Registered Child Care
The current registered care rate for a non-school aged child in up to 50 hours of care per week is $0.696 per hour, or $34.80 per child per week.
Payment rates for school aged children are 85% of the non-school aged rate.
The Low Income Health Care Card
The Low Income Health Care Card gives low income earners access to cheaper prescription medicines, and various concessions from government and private organisations. You may be eligible if you are on a low income and meet the Low Income Health Care Card income test, and residency requirements. The card is not subject to an assets test.
A Low Income Health Care Card entitles you to:
- cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
You may also be entitled to:
- concessions offered by private companies (e.g. attractions such as museums, cinemas etc.); and
- state and territory government and local council concessions, such as:
- energy and electricity bills;
- health care costs, including ambulance and dental and eye care;
- public transport costs;
- educational fees; and
- water rates.
Check with your state or territory government to find out what concessions are available to you. Concessional entitlements may vary between states and territories. You can find more information here.
The Energy Supplement
The Energy Supplement is an ongoing payment for pensioners, families who receive family assistance, income support payment customers and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders. To be eligible you must:
- receive an income support payment, pension or Family Tax Benefit from Centrelink; and
- be residing in Australia.
In addition, in NSW, the Family Energy Rebate provides eligible households a credit on an energy bill of $150, or $15 if the household also qualifies for the Low Income Household Rebate. This rebate should be applied for each financial year. It is in addition to the Energy Supplement provided by Centrelink. See my hints and tips page on how to apply.
The School Kids Bonus
The School Kids Bonus helps with education costs and is automatically paid in January and July. To be eligible you must be a parent or carer of a primary or secondary school student or a young person receiving eligible income support payments. An income test also applies.
From 1 January 2016, eligible families will receive the School Kids Bonus in:
- 2 instalments of $215 for each child in primary school—a total of $430 each year; and
- 2 instalments of $428 for each child in secondary school—a total of $856 each year.
If you share the care of your child with another person, you will receive a percentage of this payment. This will be based on the percentage of Family Tax Benefit you receive for the child.
School Kids Bonus is being phased out. The final installment of School Kids Bonus will be paid in July 2016.
Low Income Supplement
The Low Income Supplement is an annual $300 payment for each qualifying individual, limited to one payment per year. You may be eligible for the Low Income Supplement if, in the previous financial year, you met the:
- tax requirement;
- income requirement; and
- residence and other payment requirements.
Please check the Centrelink website for detailed information on the requirements.
Income Support Bonus
The Income Support Bonus is a tax free payment to help people receiving some income support payments. To be eligible for the Income Support Bonus, you need to be receiving one of the following payments:
- ABSTUDY Living Allowance;
- Farm Household Allowance;
- Newstart Allowance;
- Parenting Payment;
- Sickness Allowance;
- Special Benefit; or
- Youth Allowance.
You do not need to do anything to get your Income Support Bonus. If you are eligible, you will receive $111.50 as a single person.
If you are eligible, you will automatically receive your Income Support Bonus after 20th September.
Single Income Family Supplement
The Single Income Family Supplement is an annual payment of up to $300 to help eligible households. You may be eligible for the Single Income Family Supplement if in the financial year being claimed:
- your household had one main income earner whose income was between $68,000 and $150,000; and
- you received Family Tax Benefit for at least 1 child; or
- you had a child who would have been eligible for Family Tax Benefit except that the child or someone on the child’s behalf was receiving an ‘at home’ rate of one of the following payments:
- Disability Support Pension;
- Youth Allowance;
- Special Benefit;
- ABSTUDY Living Allowance;
- an education allowance under the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme; or
- Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme.
Approved Care Organisations are not eligible for Single Income Family Supplement.
Use the Centrelink rate estimator to check your eligibility and how much you may be entitled to.
Low Income Family Supplement
The Low Income Family Supplement is an annual $300 payment to help eligible low income households. To be eligible for the Low Income Family Supplement you will need to meet the:
- tax requirement;
- income requirement; and
- residency and other payments requirements.
Note that from 1 July 2017 this payment will no longer be available and no new claims will be accepted from this date unless special circumstances exist.
The Crisis Payment is a one off payment to help people who are experiencing difficult or extreme circumstances. There are certain criteria for eligibility. You may be eligible if you:
- are in severe financial hardship; and
- submit your claim within 7 days after the event where you have left your home and cannot return because of an extreme circumstance such as domestic violence, and you have set up or intend to set up a new home.
If you are not a member of a couple, you are considered to be in severe financial hardship if your available funds are less than the fortnightly equivalent of 2 weeks of the maximum payment rate of your income support payment.
Crisis Payment is a one off payment equal to 1 week’s payment at your existing income support payment rate. The Crisis Payment does not include extra allowances or supplements.
If you are already receiving or qualify for a payment from Centrelink, with the exception of Family Tax Benefit or Child Care Benefit, you may be able to get the Crisis Payment as an extra payment.
See the Centrelink website for further details on eligibility.
Child Dental Benefits Schedule
The Child Dental Benefits Schedule provides financial support for basic dental services for children aged 2–17. To be eligible, you must:
- have a child aged between 2 and 17 for at least 1 day of the calendar year;
- receive certain government benefits such as Family Tax Benefit Part A for at least part of the calendar year; and
- be eligible for Medicare.
Benefits for basic dental services are capped at $1,000 per child over 2 consecutive calendar years. If you do not use all of your $1,000 benefit in the first year of eligibility, you can use it in the second year if you are still eligible. Any remaining balance will not be carried forward at the end of the second year.
Benefits will cover a range of services including examinations, x-rays, cleaning, fissure sealing, fillings, root canals and extractions, but are not available for orthodontic or cosmetic dental work and cannot be paid for any services provided in a hospital.
You cannot claim a benefit under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule and from a private health insurer for the same dental service. If your dental provider:
- bulk bills, you do not need to submit a claim;
- does not bulk bill, you will need to pay the account and claim your benefit from Centrelink.
Additional Payments for Other Circumstances
- Disability Support Pension – financial support for people who have a physical, intellectual, or psychiatric condition that stops them from working or who are permanently blind.
- Parental Leave Pay – financial support for up to 18 weeks to help working parents care for a newborn or recently adopted child.
- Newstart Allowance – financial help if you are looking for work or participating in approved activities that may increase your chances of finding a job.
- Austudy – financial help to full-time students and Australian Apprentices aged 25 years or more.
- Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement – an increase to your Family Tax Benefit Part A payment when you have a baby or adopt a child.
- Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme – help for families with students who cannot go to a state school because of geographical isolation, disability or special health needs.
- Carer Allowance – an income supplement for carers who provide additional daily care and attention for someone with a disability or medical condition, or who is frail aged.
- Sickness Allowance – a payment for people aged 22 years or older, but under age pension age, who temporarily cannot work or study because of an injury or illness.
- Pensioner Education Supplement – helps students with the ongoing costs of full-time or part-time study in a secondary or tertiary course.
- Mobility Allowance – payment for people with disability, illness or injury who cannot use public transport without substantial assistance and who participate in approved activities.
- External Breast Prostheses Reimbursement Program – a reimbursement for new or replacement external breast prostheses for women who have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy as a result of breast cancer.
- Essential Medical Equipment Payment – helps with the additional cost of running essential medical equipment, medically required heating or cooling, or both.
- Continence Aids Payment Scheme – helps people aged 5 years or more who have permanent and severe incontinence to meet some of the costs of incontinence products.
- Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Scheme – helps with treatment costs for specialised services for cleft lip and cleft palate conditions.
- Farm Household Allowance – help for farmers and their families experiencing financial hardship.