Family Partner and Parenting Allowances
Partner Allowance (benefit)
Note: There have been no new claims of Partner Allowance since 20 September 2003.
The partner of a person receiving a benefit may also receive a Partner Allowance. The same eligibility requirements apply as for Partner Allowance (pension).
A Parenting Payment (PP) is paid to a “principal parent” who has at least one “Parenting Payment child”.
Parenting Payment (partnered) (PP (partnered)) is paid to a member of a couple where the child is under six years old, and Parenting Payment (single) (PP (single)) is paid to a single person where the child is under eight years old. The person must be an Australian resident and in Australia at the date of claim.
If a person was receiving a Parenting Payment before 1 July 2006 and has been continuously eligible for PP since this date, or does not cease to be eligible for more than 12 weeks, they may receive this payment until their youngest child turns 16, but will have participation requirements from the time the child is seven years old.
However, this only applies with respect to children in the person’s care immediately before 1 July 2011.
A recipient of the PP may have “participation requirements”. Penalties for non-compliance apply (see: “Newstart Allowance“).
The rates of payment and income and assets tests are different for PP (partnered) and PP (single) (see below).
A “principal parent” is a person with the care of at least one dependent child, i.e.:
- a natural or adopted child or young person, in the adult’s care, and the adult is legally responsible for the young person’s day-to-day care, welfare and development; or
- not the dependant of someone else, and wholly or substantially in the adult’s care.
The child can be the PP child of only one person at a time.
Members of a couple, both those legally married and not living separately and apart on a permanent or indefinite basis, and those determined to be living in a “marriage-like relationship” with another person, including a person of the same sex, are generally precluded from receiving PP (single).
The question of whether two people are living in a “marriage-like relationship” is complex, and takes account of many factors, with a non-exhaustive list in section 4(3) of the SSA. They include financial aspects of the relationship, the nature of the household, social aspects, any sexual relationship and the extent of the persons’ commitment to each other.
A person applying for, or receiving, PP (single) may be obliged to provide Centrelink with information on their living arrangements and relationship with the other person. Failure to provide the information will lead to refusal, suspension or cancellation of the PP (single). If the information provided by the person does not establish that the person is single, the PP (single) is not payable.
Parenting Payment is also not paid if:
- another person is receiving PP for the same child;
- the person’s partner is receiving PP;
- the person is receiving another social security payment, or payments under another Commonwealth scheme; or
- the person is serving a waiting or deferment period.
A Parenting Payment recipient may be required to sign an Employment Pathway Plan. Failure to comply with the Parenting Payment Employment Pathway Plan may result in a penalty being imposed. The penalties are the same as for Newstart Allowance breaches (see: “Newstart Allowance“, above).
There are two rates of Parenting Payment:
- the Parenting Payment – single rate; and
- the Parenting Payment – partnered rate.
The PP (single) rate is subject to the same income and assets tests as for pension payments. The income test is subject to frequent changes – check Centrelink for details.
The PP (partnered) rate will depend on whether the person’s partner is receiving a benefit. It is paid to a person whose partner is receiving a social security pension, a service pension, or if the family is on a low income. An asset limit applies which is the same as the pensioner assets test.
A person receiving the PP (single) or the benefit PP (partnered) is entitled to receive the Pharmaceutical Allowance, Rent Assistance and Remote Area Allowance (if qualified). A person receiving non-benefit PP (partnered) is not entitled to these additional benefits.
The Baby Bonus is a lump sum payment paid to:
- a parent who is eligible for Family Tax Benefit (FTB) (see below) within 26 weeks of the birth of the child; or
- a person who is not the parent of the child but who has the care of the child within 26 weeks of its birth and who is eligible for FTB.
A parent may also be qualified for the Baby Bonus for an adopted child or a stillborn child. Generally only one individual is eligible for the Baby Bonus in respect of a child. In some circumstances the Baby Bonus can sometimes be apportioned amongst multiple persons, but cannot exceed 100% of the current rate.
The current amount of the Baby Bonus is $5,437 per child, and is paid in 13 fortnightly instalments. A higher amount is paid in the first instalment. The Baby Bonus is income-tested and payable to families with an adjusted taxable income of $75,000 or less in the six months following the birth of the child or the child’s entry into care. There is no assets test.
Paid Parental Leave (PPL)
Under the PPL scheme eligible parents/carers who have or adopt a child after 1 January 2011 are paid a maximum of 18 weeks parental leave pay, at a weekly before-tax rate of $606.45. Applicants must be the primary carer of the newborn or recently adopted child, meet work, income and residency tests, and not be working.
The work test requires that the applicant have undertaken qualifying work (at least one hour per day) for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption, and for at least 330 hours in that 10-month period. No more than eight weeks may elapse between two consecutive qualifying work days. Exceptions may apply for premature births or where pregnancy complications prevent work.
PPL and the baby bonus – cannot both be paid for the same child.
Family Tax Benefit
To be eligible for FTB an adult must have at least one “FTB child” and be an Australian resident, or hold a Special Category or prescribed visa. An FTB child is generally under 18 where the adult is legally responsible for the child’s day-to-day care, and the child is in the adult’s care and living in Australia or with the adult. Persons aged 18-20 may also be an FTB child if in an adult’s care and living in Australia or with the adult. Persons aged 21–24 may be an FTB child if in an adult’s care, living in Australia or with the adult, and undertaking full-time study (although the maximum age for FTB will be 21 from 1 January 2012). Rent Assistance can be paid with FTB(A). An FTB activity test may apply if the child is aged 16-20. FTB(B) provides extra assistance to predominantly single-income families.
Since 1 July 2011, payment of FTB(A) for a child turning four is conditional on the child undergoing a health check.
The base rate of FTB(A) can be paid for three years of temporary absence from Australia. More than the base rate of FTB(A) and (B) can generally be paid for only 13 weeks of a temporary absence from Australia. However, the length of the recipient’s last return to Australia, or type of visa held, may affect entitlement to FTB while absent from Australia.
FTB can be paid as a fortnightly payment, as a reduced tax instalment or as an end of the year lump sum tax rebate. There is no assets test for FTB (A) or (B).
Only one member of a couple caring for an FTB child can be paid the FTB. If the parents are separated FTB can be divided between both parents depending on the proportion of care each provides for the child. However, if the level of care provided is less than 35%, the child is not taken to be a FTB child of that care provider.
Rate of Assistance (s58, Schedule 1)
The rate of payment depends on the age of the child, with different maximum rates of FTB(A) for children aged 0–12 years, 13–15, 16–17, and 18–24. A different minimum rate of FTB(A) applies to children under 18 and to those 18–24.
FTB(A) is subject to an income test. The maximum rate of FTB(A) is paid where the taxable income of the adult is less than the threshold in the current year of income. For every $1 received as income above this amount the rate of FTB(A) reduces by 20 cents. The minimum rate of FTB(A) is paid where taxable income is less than the higher income threshold for the current year. The threshold is increased for the second and any subsequent children. For every $1 received as income above this amount the rate of FTB(A) reduces by 30 cents until the rate is nil. There is no income test for persons receiving a social security payment.
The rate of FTB(B) also depends on the age of the child; either 0–5 years or 5–18. Once income exceeds the threshold, the rate of FTB(B) is reduced by 20 cents for every $1 of income above this amount.
Note: FTB(B) is paid to families where the primary earner has an adjusted taxable income of less than $150,000. In which case, it is the income of the lower earner that affects how much FTB(B) the family will receive.