Centrelink: Benefits and How To Claim

The Australian financial or fiscal year starts from July 1 - June 30. Because we arrived July 2018, we are on FY 2018/2019. If you arrive May 2019, you will still be under FY 2018/2019. Why is this important? Because at the end of the financial year, centrelink will be balancing your family assistance payments. They will compare your income estimate with your actual income to ensure that they have paid the correct amount.

To be able to transact easier with the government, you need to create your mygov account. After creating, secure your medicare number, CRN and TFN. Once you have them, link all your accounts to mygov and you can transact from there.

Homepage upon logging to mygov account

  1. Click on centrelink once you log-in in your mygov account.
  2. You will be redirected to the centrelink website.
  3. Click on "Make A Claim" then fill in the forms. You also need to upload some documents like proof of identity, child birth certificate, tenancy agreement, TFN etc. 
  • Family Tax Benefit (FTB)** -  this was our first claim. This is income tested. It comes in two parts, A and B. Upon payment, they will indicate whether you are receiving A and/or B. 
    • If you care for a child, you'll be receiving part A depending on income, residence status and care of percentage. (Starting January 2019, newly arrived citizens whose visa is granted on or after January 2019 will have a waiting period of 1 year.)
    • If you are a single parent, non-parent or grandparent carer or couple with one main income, you'll be receiving part B depending on income, residence status and care of percentage. (No waiting period.)
    • Make sure that your child's immunisation record is up-to-date. You can check in your medicare account online. The child's record will be linked to the main applicant.
    • In the application form, you need to provide your estimated FY household income to determine the amount to be paid.
    • You'll also receive 'rent assistance'. It is assessed together with your FTB when claiming.
  • Child Care Subsidy (CCS) - this was our second claim when our son started childcare. This is also income tested. Payment will be forwarded to the school (5% will be withheld from the payment to avoid overpayment. You can adjust the rate withheld through mygov). I read somewhere that you can file before your son starts childcare but for us, we lodged when he started school, January 7 and was completed January 31. Since we paid first while waiting for approval, centrelink paid us January 7 - January 25 and the remaining to the school. 
    • In the application form, aside from the estimated FY household income, you also need to put your activity hours like work, volunteering, looking for work etc. The parent with the lowest entitlement determines the hours of subsidised care for the child. Example: Child goes to childcare for 10 hours in 5 days (100 hours/fortnight), activity hours declared are 60 and 45. So the number of hours to be subsidised will be 72 hours only (based on 45 and not 60) and not 100.
  • Other Benefits (refer to centrelink website for eligibility)
    • Newstart allowance** - for jobseekers but with a 2 or 4 year residency rule
    • Parenting Payment
    • Parental Leave Pay
    • Dad and partner pay
    • Carer payment
To know what benefits you can claim and how much you can receive, you can refer to https://www.centrelink.gov.au/custsite_pfe/pymtfinderest/paymentFinderPage.jsf?wec-appid=pymtfinderest&wec-locale=en_US#stay. If link is broken, google 'payment and service finder centrelink' and follow the instructions.

End of Financial Year Balancing
All income information will be taken from ATO once you lodge your tax return. If you don't need to lodge a tax return, you have to inform centrelink through mygov. A letter will be sent once all payments are balanced.

If there is an overpayment, they may deduct it from your future family assistance payments including top ups or supplement payments. They may also take it from your tax refund if any. If you are unable to pay back the amount, you can work with them for a repayment plan that you can afford.

If you didn't receive your full family assistance payments, you may receive a top up.

Update (29/9/19): I filed my tax return on the 5th of July and my husband filed his on the 11th of July. With that we were able to receive a top-up on FTB on the 23th of July while the CCS took awhile. We received the CCS top-up on the 6th of September.

Be really careful on declaring your income here and make sure to file your income tax return too. If you know about the robo-debt stories... so make sure that you also have a little bit of understanding how payments are calculated just in case you receive a debt notice. 


**Updates

*There were changes that occurred due to COVID 19 like removing the waiting period for newly arrived citizens, asset and liquid tests, income tests etc. but some of these will commence by September. Refer to their website to be updated on these changes.
*Newstart Allowance becomes Jobseeker. Mutual obligations commenced with limited capacity as of June 9 I think but starting August, it will require job seekers to apply for at least 4 jobs (20 jobs pre-corona virus I think). The supplement of $550 will be reduced also to $250 from September 25 onwards until December.

**Follow their facebook for updates

*All those in blue are linked to their respective websites. Click for more information.

To understand more about Australia taxation, follow the links below...

Taxation in Australia
Maximising Your Return
How To Keep Your Records

Preparing Your Tax Return









Comments

  1. What a fantastic post! This is probably the best and most concise step by step guide I've ever seen. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete

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