Carer Payments – Are you receiving all you can?
Are you receiving all you can?
WHO IS A CARER?
If you provide unpaid care and support to family members, friends or a loved one who has a disability, medical condition or is frail of age, then you’re a Carer.
Carers differ in age, sex, location, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds which reflect the diversity of our Australian community and collectively play an integral part in Australia’s health system.
As unpaid carers help to relieve pressures in our healthcare system, the Government makes financial payments and services available to assist carers and their families. They include:
- Carer Payment
- Carer Allowance
- Carer Supplement
- Essential Medical Equipment Payment
- Continence Aids Payment Scheme
- Pensioner Education Supplement.
FACTS ABOUT CARERS IN AUSTRALIA
Australia has over 2.7 million carers, so 1 in every 10 Australians is a carer. Of these 2.7 million, almost half, 1.3 million cares for an aging parent, spouse or elderly loved one. One
third are primary carers – carers who provide most of the informal help for a person with disability or for someone who is frail of age. Over two-thirds of primary carers are women and most care for a close relative such as a partner, parent, or child. Depending on the care provided and the situation of the one being cared for, there are a few payments made available by the government as listed before.
TYPES OF CARE
Caring may include physical personal care and assistance. • Carers may provide emotional, social, or financial support. • Caring may also involve helping the person they are caring for to be organised, reminding them to attend appointments, and dealing with emergencies.
Caring extends beyond just physical care. It can involve physical personal care and assistance such as dressing, lifting, showering, feeding or providing transport. However, it can also involve care of a supervisory nature, such as helping the person they are caring for to be organised, reminding them to attend appointments, dealing with emergencies, and ensuring they are safe from harm.
One of the things all carers and the people they care for have in common is being in a care relationship. Care relationships can be long term, such as caring for a person with lifelong disability or chronic conditions such as dementia, or short term, such as caring for a person with a temporary medical condition.
LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT EACH AVAILABLE PAYMENT AND THEIR ELIGIBILITY CRITERIAS:
1 Carer Payment,
Is a payment that provides income support if you’re unable to work in substantial paid employment because you are providing full time care to a child with a severe disability, or a severe medical condition. As this is paid at the pension rate, it also qualifies the carer for a Pensioner Concession Card. The current maximum rate for a single person is $967.50 per fortnight, or $729.30 for a member of a couple.
- Constant care is defined as daily care which is the equivalent of a normal working day. The Treating Health Professional and carer are generally required to state this in the application. • Pensions income and asset test is the same as the Age Pension.
- The care receiver must be on a means tested income support payment – for example, a person in receipt of a DVA War Widow payment will need to complete the Income and Asset for care receiver form.
- There is no requirement for the carer and care receiver to live together.
- You and the person you care for must be Australian Permanent Residents and in Australia to claim.
- Care generally cannot be shared for Carer Payment, except in some extreme cases.
2 Carer Allowance
Is an income supplement available if you’re providing additional daily care and attention for an adult or child with disability or a medical condition. It is not assets tested and can be paid in addition to wages or another income support payment. The current rate of Carer
Allowance is $131.90 per fortnight. It can be paid for up to two adults over 16 in your care.
- Care and Attention is care that is required daily for a minimum of 12 months unless the care receiver is an adult with a life expectancy of 3 months or less.
- Care must be provided in a private residence that is your home or a private residence that is the care receiver’s home for Carer Allowance.
- If you don’t live with the person, you care for, you have to provide at least 20 hours of care every week. An additional form is required (the Carer Allowance questionnaire).
- You and the person you care for must be Australian Permanent
- Carer Allowance can be paid for a maximum of two adult care receivers and any number of children.
- Carer Allowance may be shared by two carers who are NOT members of the same couple. The two carers must care for the same (adult or child) care receiver and each meet Carer Allowance qualification criteria.
- If you are caring for a child and do not qualify for payment level of Carer Allowance you may still be eligible for a health care card.
- The above list is not exhaustive. Additional eligibility criteria does apply.
3 Carer Supplement
An annual payment for those who care for a person with a disability or medical condition. • The carer must be in receipt of Carer Allowance or Carer Payment on 1 July each year.
- The supplement is $600 each year for each eligible payment and each care receiver. • There is no need to claim this separately as it is paid automatically. • A Child Disability Assistance Payment of $1,000 per child under 16 may also be payable if you receive carer payments in respect of a child.
4 Essential Medical Equipment Payment (EMEP)
This payment helps with the additional costs of running essential medical equipment, medically required heating or cooling, or both. If you are the carer of a dependent child, you can claim EMEP where the dependent child is the person with medical needs. A payment of $164 per year can be used for each piece of eligible essential medical equipment.
5 Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS)
Is an annual or biannual payment that helps you meet some of the costs associated with continence and continence related products if you have permanent and severe incontinence. • You must be 5 years or older to qualify and meet residency requirements. • You must have permanent and severe loss of bladder and bowel function.
- You must be a holder of a Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Pensioner Concession Card unless you have an eligible neurological condition.
- The payment rate for 2021/22 is up to $635.10 per person.
- To apply, download a copy of the CAPS application form on the Department of Health website. A section of the form must also be completed by an appropriate Health Professional.
6 Pensioner Education Supplement
This payment helps with the cost of study in an approved course if you get certain payments, such as Carer Payment. This payment is up to $62.40 per fortnight for eligible students. The easiest way to apply for a payment from Services Australia is via your MyGov account. Centrelink must be linked to your account. Or you can claim via Centrelink online. Alternatively, you can contact the Disability, Sickness and Carers line on 13 2717. Please note that you are no longer able to complete a paper form for Carer Allowance or Carer Payment, however you can ask for the Service Officer to assist you with a telephone claim if needed.
Other supports for carers include the Carer Gateway, a resource to assist carers in meeting their own needs and taking care. They provide phone counselling, an online carer forum, and self-paced coaching and skills programs designed to equip carers with support, skills and general information.
It is important for carers to take a break from their roles to recharge and take care of their own needs. Carers can access respite care, which can be provided by family and friends or by a respite service. Respite can occur in home, at a centre or in a residential care facility. Respite can be for a short period of time, such as a few hours per week, or for a longer period of time. Some community organisations offer care for particular groups (for example, activities for children or cultural groups). They may also offer activities for the care receiver, such as social events or therapy sessions. Some carer groups also offer activities for carers (for example, morning teas or yoga classes) to help carers take a break.
Contact the Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 to find out more about the respite care that is available in your area.
This information is current as of 3 December 2020.
Written by Rosie Bourton.