Are You Eligible for a Disability Carers Allowance?
Caring for someone with a disability is a selfless act of love and dedication. However, it can bring about a unique set of challenges, both emotionally and financially. In Australia, there is crucial support available designed to alleviate some of the financial burdens that come with being a full time carer.
If you care for someone full time with a disability, medical condition or someone who is frail aged or elderly then you are likely to be eligible for a Disability Carers Allowance. This is a bi-monthly tax-free supplement to any other income you have to help you pay for expenses.
At Maple, our aim is to empower carers and support workers with the knowledge they need to access the assistance they rightfully deserve. If you’ve just started caring for a loved one or have just found out about Carers Allowance, our comprehensive guide compiles essential information from trusted Australian resources. We’ll look at the requirements and eligibility of the Carers Allowance so you can work through the process with ease.
What Financial support is there for Carers in Australia?
In Australia, individuals who provide continuous care for someone in need can receive financial support from the government. These carer payments are categorised into two primary types, and your eligibility is determined based on both your specific circumstances and the requirements of the person you are providing care for.
- Carer Payments are available if you provide constant care to someone with a disability, a medical condition, or an adult over 65 in need of care. “Constant care” entails dedicating a significant portion of your day, essentially equivalent to a full day of work, to care for them, in turn preventing you from working full time. This payment can help you provide constant care for up to 6 months at a time.
- Carer Allowance is an additional fortnightly supplementary payment of $144.80 provided to a carer who cares for someone who has a disability, serious illness or is frail aged in Australia and needs daily support. You could qualify for this allowance if you care for someone with a terminal medical condition or someone who requires daily assistance for more than 12 months.
Do I Qualify for Carer Allowance?
As a carer you may be eligible for one or more of the government funding specified for those caring for loved ones. To qualify for Carer Allowance you and the person you care for must both be Australian residents and reside here in Australia.
This supplementary payment can be made in addition to the Carer Payment or any other pension or benefit. You can also qualify if you don’t currently receive any other benefits. Even if you are working or studying this should not affect your eligibility for the allowance.
If the person who you are providing care for has needs that score high enough on the Adult Disability Assessment Tool (ADAT) or Disability Care Load Assessment (for children) (DCLA), and will require extra care for at least the next 12 months or for the rest of their life, you should qualify for Carer Allowance.
In addition to this, to qualify for the Carers Allowance you must pass an income test. You (and your partner’s, if you have one) combined annual income would need to sit below $250,000 per financial year before tax. Thankfully, there is no assets test to qualify for Carers Allowance and it is not currently taxable.
If you are caring for an adult or anyone aged 16 years or older you will be eligible to receive a payment of $144.80 every fortnight. However, there is no Health Care Card for the person you provide care for.
If you are caring for a child under 16 years of age, the carer allowance is either:
- $144.80 and a health care card for a child with higher needs, or
- A health care card by itself for a child with lower needs to help with medicine and health care needs.
If you share the care with anyone who is not your partner, then the payments can be split and you will receive a percentage of it depending on how much care you each provide.
How can I spend my Carers Allowance?
The Carers Allowance is designed to provide financial support to individuals who provide ongoing care for others. While there are no strict rules as to how you spend your allowance, it is intended to assist you with any costs associated with caring for the person in need.
Your allowance might help you towards:
- Essential living or medical expenses, such as rent, mortgage payments, groceries, medication, mobility aids or transportation costs.
- Respite care, counselling, support services or social activities that provide you with a break from caregiving when needed.
- Education and training courses that can enhance your caregiving skills.
- Any debt reduction or an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses in the future.
It’s important to budget and prioritise your spending to ensure your allowance is used effectively to support both your caregiving responsibilities and your overall well-being.
How do I claim Disability Carers Allowance?
You can claim for disability carers allowance through the Services Australia website. You will need to create an account, prove your identity and provide supporting documents, such as your tax file number, financial income and assets and partner details before you can claim.
The documents that you need to provide will be outlined in your claim and you may be asked to provide additional information as they work through it. As each case is complex the claiming process can take some time to fully assess your specific situation.
Remember, they will contact you for more information if they need it. However, they will never ask you for money or to release your information so be aware of scams that ask for money or personal information.
What do I do if I don’t qualify for Carers Allowance?
While you wait to receive the Carers Allowance there may be other benefits that you are eligible for under the government or other organisations. If you’ve read through this information and believe you may not qualify for the Carers Allowance, there may be other benefits you do qualify for as a carer.
Whether you’re a dedicated family member or a professional support worker, we’ll do our best to provide all the knowledge you need to help you on your journey towards a better-supported carer. For more information please reach out to one of our advisors at Maple Services today.