Expat Guide to Centrelink (Government) Benefits - Aussian (2023)

Last updated November 15, 2019

If you move to Australia on a PR visa you can get some government benefits. These benefits or payments are provided by the Australian Government under the Centrelink program and are therefore often referred to as Centrelink benefits or Centrelink payments. Centrelink services are not just limited to low income groups, but are also available to families, jobseekers, the disabled and the elderly.

There are over 100 different Centrelink benefits covering almost every aspect of life, such as: For example, having a baby, starting a family, looking for a job, paying for education, paying rent and electricity, and even housekeeping... Phew! The Australian government certainly knows how to look after its people. 😉

What Centrelink benefits can you get as a migrant?

While there is a wide range of Centrelink benefits, that doesn't mean you get them all. All of these benefits have elaborate criteria about who can and cannot receive them. As a newly arrived migrant, you can access certain services immediately, while others have to wait. Here is the list of benefits you can claim immediately as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.

Family tax benefit

This Centrelink benefit is given to families to help them with raising children. This payment is especially useful for families with a single source of income.

The Family Tax Benefit consists of two parts, calledFTB Acomplement andFTB BAddition. Depending on your family's income and how many children you have, you can receive FTB A or FTB B, or both. You can find all the gory details here -https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/family-tax-benefit/payment-rates

In short, the family allowance depends on three things:family income, number of childreneyour age.

It is important to understand what family income consists of. Most people only consider family income as taxable income. It is not!

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Family income basically means the sum of taxable income, pension contributions and foreign income for you and your spouse for one year. It also includes other things like fringe benefits, pensions, investment losses, but for most cases the above three things should be good enough.

family income= taxable income + retirement + foreign income + fringe benefits + tax-free pensions or benefits + net investment losses + child support payments

In addition to the above income criteria, you must have a dependent child to qualify for this benefit. This should be obvious as the payment is a financial help to raise the children. Also,Your child should have all the vaccinations required by the national immunization program schedule. Otherwise there are no benefits for the child.

Waiting time changes in 2018

There is a suggestion for thisIntroduction of a three-year waiting period for newly arrived migrantsbefore they can claim the Family Tax Benefit and some other Centrelink benefits. There is currently no such waiting period for family allowance. Fortunately, the new waiting period does not apply to childcare allowance. The new bill has not yet been adopted by Parliament and will come into force on July 1, 2018. More details can be found here:https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/FlagPost/2017/December/Waiting_period_for_migrants

To update: ab 1stJanuary 2019, new migrants must wait 1 year to receive FTB Part A. There is no waiting period for FTB Part B.

Child Care Allowance and Child Care Allowance

Raising a child can be financially difficult in a country like Australia where childcare costs are skyrocketing. To help families with these costs, the Australian Government offers two types of childcare benefits – Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR).

Child Assistance Benefit oder CCBit is a payment to support childcare costs. It can be paid directly to the day care center so that they can charge reduced fees, or you can have it paid out directly to you as a lump sum. Again, there is a household income test andcompulsory vaccinationto claim this benefit. Also, your child must attend an approved childcare facility, which means you cannot claim them for hiring a nanny. Depending on your situation, you can get up to $215 per week in Child Care Allowance.

Day care discountdoes not depend on your family income

In addition to Child Care Allowance, the Australian Government also helps you by paying 50% of child care fees for each child per yearDiscount for childcare or CCR. The best thing about CCR is that there is no income test, which means you don't have to earn less to get it. However, depending on your income level, there is a cap on how much you can earn per year. The only two conditions are that a) you work or are looking for work at least 15 hours a week and b) your child must be vaccinated.

Day care allowance

From July 2, 2018, the CCB and CCR childcare allowances mentioned above will no longer apply. Instead, the Australian government has introduced a new benefit calledChild Care Allowance or CCS. The childcare allowance will replace all previous Centrelink childcare benefits.

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There are three important factors you need to understand to get the most out of childcare grants.

1. Hours of Operation

How much subsidy you can get depends on the number of hours you work per 14 days. However, activity does not only mean paid work. Job hunting, unpaid work, leave of absence, working in family businesses, professional development and volunteering are some examples of activities.

You can also combine two or more activities to calculate total activity hours. In principle, if you practice any of these activities for more than 48 hours every two weeks, you can receive the maximum compensation of 100 hours every two weeks. Here are the panels for the subsidy.

Activities per 14 daysMaximum subsidized hours
less than 8 hours0
8 to 16 hours36
More than 16 to 48 hours72
More than 48 hours100

You are exempt from the above criteria and can still receive a 24 hour biweekly subsidy if your household income is $66,958 or less per year. There is also an exemption if your child is 4 years old and attends kindergarten, where you can claim an extra 36 hours every 14 days.

An important consideration herewhich I only found out after discussing it with the nursery. Let's say your child goes to kindergarten 5 days a week and you are eligible for CCS depending on your income level. It is very important to check how many hours you put your child in daycare. If you wear it for more than 10 hours, your direct expenses will increase. For example, if your child is 12 hours a day for 5 days, it will be 120 hours every two weeks. However, since the state subsidizes a maximum of 100 hours per week, you have to pay for 20 hours of unsubsidized care. If you can only change your small-volume drop-off and pick-up times to limit childcare time to 10 hours or less, your costs will decrease.

How much does the government pay?

The amount of the subsidy varies depending on the total household income. The government pays a maximum of 85% of your childcare costs if your income is up to $66,958 and pays nothing if your household income is $351,248 or more.

family incomechild care allowance %
0 US$ bis 66.958 US$85%
>$66,958 and <$171,958Between 85% and 50%*
>=$ 171.958 e <$ 251.24850%
>=$ 251.248 e <$ 341.248Between 50% and 20%*
>=$ 341.248 e <$ 351.24820%
>=$ 351.2480%
*Percentage decreases by 1% for every $3,000 of household income

This subsidy is paid directly to the daycare center, allowing you to pay reduced fees. This is a change from the current system, where you can choose to receive a flat fee or lower fees. In addition, 5% of maternity allowance is withheld by the state until the end of the financial year. This amount is used for an adjustment if, after filing the tax return, the government finds that it has overpaid. If there is no need for adjustment, the government will credit this amount to your account. This percentage also changed from 10% to 5%. More power for you!

Annual Subsidy Limit

This is another important area that will bring further savings to us as a family. In the case of the current Child Care Discount (CCR), there was an annual cap of $7,613 per child, which was grossly inadequate in any practical sense.

However, with CCS, the annual limit also depends on family income. If your household income is $186,958 or less, there is no CCS cap. If your household income is higher, CCS is capped at $10,190 per child per year. BTW, I have no idea where they get so many weird numbers from. Why not round to the nearest 100?

If your annual household income is $186,958 or less, your Child Care Allowance isNOcut

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Either way, you'll still save at least an additional $2,577 per child per year if you use the entire grant, which is awesome!

Evaluation of the child care allowance

You will not automatically get CCS even if you get CCB and CCR. If you have a registered myGov account, you may have already received too many reminders to complete the childcare grant assessment.

Expat Guide to Centrelink (Government) Benefits - Aussian (1)

The childcare allowance assessment is a 4-step process in which you provide information about your household income, employment status for you and your spouse, your child's educational status, and childcare information. It's very simple and can be completed in less than 15 minutes. All you need is a pay slip for you and your spouse to calculate family income.

When filling out the household income estimation section, I usually usepayment calculatorto quickly get annual taxable income and super contribution figures. It's super easy to use and very accurate. Highly recommended!

An important point to remember when completing the Child Care Allowance Assessment: If you changed child care during the year, you may see current and previous child care facilities listed on the assessment.

Expat Guide to Centrelink (Government) Benefits - Aussian (2)

In this case, click the verify button for the previous daycare and mark it as incorrect. This is important, as otherwise your childcare allowance could be wrongly paid out to the previous institution.

After the assessment is complete, Centrelink will send you a letter in about a week letting you know that your assessment is complete. If, like me, you marked entries as wrong during the assessment, you will need to go to the Centrelink website and check those entries again. This time you will be introduced to the reasons why your application details are incorrect. Select the appropriate reason and submit your statement.

In addition to these Centrelink benefits, you may receive other benefits such as: B. Newstart Allowance or Parenting Payment. However, they have a long waiting period of 2 years. As such, they are not very helpful to new migrants.

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In short, move to Australia before July 2018 if you can. As of July 2018, expect a longer wait time as the rules are changing. HoweverThese changes are unfair to newly arrived expats, the Australian government seems determined to implement them. Much luck!

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