Single parent benefits

Within Australia, Federal Government generated parenting payments are managed through Centrelink. Payments are designed to help parents support the cost of one or more children and are separate from other forms of government assistance. In New Zealand the Ministry of Social Development is responsible for administering the Domestic Purposes Benefits (DPB). See section below on New Zealand specific information.

Due to the complexity of many families, parenting payments may be extended to include grandparents, foster and kinship carers. The payment is made to the person who is the main carer and is usually delivered in fortnightly instalments directly into a designated bank account.

Payments: Criteria for Qualifying

  • If you are a sole parent and caring for at least one child aged under 8 years; or
  • You have a partner and are caring for at least one child aged under 6 years; and
  • Your combined income and assets are below a certain threshold.
  • You are an Australian citizen or hold a permanent resident visa.

If you fit the criteria for receiving parenting payment as a single parent, you may need to attend a training course or prove you are seeking employment. From your youngest child’s 6th birthday you will need to show evidence that you are doing this. This is known as an Employment Pathway Plan. Supports and incentives are available for single parents who show motivation to become employed and no longer rely wholly on parenting payments. Access to subsidised child care, training, return to work programmes and updating of skills are all available through Centrelink.

How Much Can I Get?

The amount of parenting payment you qualify for depends on your own and your partner’s income and assets. Full, as well as part payments, are provided to eligible families. In cases where there is some income, a part payment is estimated based on the fortnightly earnings coming into the household.

Example of Income Test for Single Parents

  • For maximum payment the sole parent’s income must be no more than $170.60 per fortnight, plus $24.60 for each additional child. Income over this amount reduces the rate of payment by 40 cents in the dollar.
  • A part payment may be available if the recipient’s income is less than $1735.35 per fortnight, plus $24.60 for each additional child. This amount may be higher if you’re eligible for Pharmaceutical Allowance.

Example of Payment for Single Parents Who Qualify

  • A basic rate of up to $625.90 per fortnight. Included in this is a pension supplement which for those under pension age is $20.40.

Other Entitlements for Those Who Meet the Criteria May Include:

  • Rent Assistance. This is normally paid with Family Tax Benefit Part A.
  • A Health Care Card
  • Remote Area Allowance
  • Child Care Benefit
  • Access to the lower threshold of the Medicare Safety Net
  • Telephone Allowance. This is a payment to assist with maintaining a telephone service, not for calls.
    N.B. The income threshold for these payments changes frequently so it is worthwhile checking the Centrelink website to ensure you have the most up to date information.

What If My Circumstances Changes?

Centrelink has very clear frameworks for when and how they provide parenting payments. Each year, thousands of dollars is paid to individuals who no longer qualify for federal government support.

If your conditions or circumstances change, if you start working or you re-partner then you need to tell Centrelink about this.

They need to know within 14 days so they can make the necessary changes to your details.

Some examples of change would be

  • You start a relationship with a new, live-in partner
  • Your child leaves home and you are no longer supporting them
  • You start working or your income changes. This applies if it decreases or increases
  • You separate from your partner
  • You move house or go interstate

Each year, thousands of people need to repay Centrelink for overpaid money to which they were not entitled. If you feel you have made a genuine mistake in underestimating your income or have not been able to contact Centrelink don’t delay advising them. Being charged with fraud constitutes a major offence.

Family Assistance

In order to be paid Family Tax Benefit Part A and Family Tax Benefit Part B you will need to meet the criteria for an income test. Some assets are excluded from needing to be tested.

You have the right of appeal if you feel you are entitled to financial and other support but have been denied. The Social Security Appeals Tribunal and Administrative Appeals Tribunal both provide a means of fair appraisal of claims when individuals feel they have been unjustly denied payments.

Where to Get Help In Australia

15/09/21 - min Read

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