Hi Brad, thank you for sending in your question. It’s a great question and Centrelink services are incredibly complex to navigate, so I’d say you probably aren’t alone with this question.
There are a few key pieces of information I don’t have, such as the age and number of your children, and what you are earning, however, I’ve tried to cover most bases that I think might apply to your situation, so hopefully, you can arrive at the right answer for you.
Being a single dad and working full time, my first assumption is that you are currently receiving, or have in the past, qualified for the Single Parenting Payment. The factors that will result in a higher payment here, are being the primary carer for a child under 8 years of age and how much you earn/own. Most people who need this service will be income test limited, meaning the more they earn, the less financial support they are eligible to receive from Centrelink. According to the latest Centrelink updates from 15 October 2020, your payment will be affected as follows:
1. If you earn under $192.60 per fortnight, you will receive the full amount of $805.10 per fortnight including supplements.
2. If you earn between $192.60 to $2,220.80 per fortnight, your payment will be reduced by 40c for each dollar
you are over the lower limit. Your benefits would stop once you are earning $2,220.80 per fortnight.
3. If you have more than one child under 8 years old, each additional child increases your lower limit by $24.60 per fortnight
before your benefits start reducing. That means your lower limit for two children is $217.20 per fortnight, and for
three children it would be $241.80.
Of course, if your children are under 8 years old you may also be eligible for the Child Care subsidy to assist with the cost of childcare, especially while you are working full time. The only difference here is that you won’t receive the benefit directly, you would just pay any out-of-pocket costs after the subsidy has reduced your fees.
If your child or children are over 8 years old, you may still be eligible for other payments. For instance, Family Tax Benefit A and B would still apply, or if your child is aged between 16 and 19 and you care for them at least 35% of the time, they may be eligible for Youth Allowance or AUSTUDY, which could go towards supporting your family until they leave home. It’s worth noting that if your family does receive Youth Allowance or AUSTUDY, your Family Tax benefit will reduce, so it’s worth weighing up which payment is better for your family.
As I mentioned, Centrelink services are a very complex area to navigate, there are so many rules and considerations that may apply to you. Depending on your situation, there may be more support available if one of your children also suffers from a disability, or if your own health was compromised. The best resource for information on all things Centrelink is to contact a FIS officer (Financial Information Services). They work within the Services Australia department and it’s their job to help people make informed decisions about their potential Centrelink benefits and to understand the short- and long-term implications of making changes to their situation. They cannot give financial advice, but with permission, they are usually happy to discuss your particulars with your financial adviser so that between the two professionals, you can plan to be in the best position that is available to you.