Government Family Benefits – Are You Entitled to Financial Help?
The Australian Federal Government offers a number of forms of financial assistance to help with different levels of parenthood. Raising a family is both expensive and hard work, so knowing where the government will pay for things you’re entitled to can alleviate the financial strain.
Simply searching online can lead to a wild goose chase across hundreds of different articles in order to fully establish what you can (and cannot) claim for. Therefore, if you would like to quickly get your head around what payments are available to you, read this article to find out which government benefit payments you can receive in Australia.
Parents with a Newborn
The previous Baby Bonus was scrapped in 2013 and was replaced by the newborn upfront payment in March 2014. The payment is for parents following the birth or adoption of a child.
If you meet all of the below requirements then the maximum amount of money you can receive is $2,091.84 for your first child. The amount for your second child is $1,046.25 along with any more children. The sum is added to your Family Tax Benefit Part A as a supplement. There are a few different ways in which you can receive your payment, but this will depend on how you have your Family Tax Benefit Part A set up, i.e. lump sums or fortnightly.
Eligibility Requirements for Parents with a New Born:
- Be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A.
- Have a baby or adopt a child on or after March 1st 2014.
- Not be receiving parental leave pay for the same child.
Dad and Partner Pay
It's a relief to know that dads and partners can receive two weeks of government-funded pay after the birth of a new baby or adoption of a child. The amount paid out by the government for Dad and Partner pay is $657 per week before tax. The government pays the money directly into your bank account once your claim is confirmed.
Dad and partner pay does not change the amount of leave entitlement you have. However, to be sure it’s always a good idea to check with your employer to understand what leave you are entitled to. Under the Fair Work Act 2009 if you have worked for the company for at least 12 months you should be entitled to unpaid parental leave.
Eligibility Requirements fo Dad and Partner Pay:
- Complete an income test.
- Be on unpaid leave or not be working whilst on leave.
- Claim the money within 52 weeks of the child’s birth or adoption.
- Provide care for the new born or adopted child.
- Worked at least 10 of the 13 months before the date your Dad and Partner pay period starts and 330 hours (1 day of work per week) in those 10 months.
Parental Leave Pay
Parental Leave Pay entitles parents up to 18 weeks of pay at the rate of minimum wage to help take time off work whilst adjusting to having a new baby or adopted child in their lives.
The amount that Parental Leave Pay offers is $657 per week before tax for a maximum time period of 18 weeks. The amount is taxable so it could affect your existing family assistance entitlements, child support arrangements and tax obligations. The money can be received directly from your employer or the government. You current type of employment doesn’t need to be full time in order to receive Parental Leave Pay.
The scheme does provide money but it does not entitle you to leave from work, this is something that you will need to discuss with your employer about maternity leave entitlements. The recommended notice period you should provide is 10 weeks to your employer.
Eligibility Requirement for Parental Leave Pay:
- Complete a Parental Leave income test.
- Be the primary carer for the new born or adopted child.
- You should be on leave or not be working from the time you become the child’s primary carer until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period.
- Worked at least 10 or the 13 months before the date your Dad and Partner pay period starts and 330 hours (1 day of work per week) in those 10 months.
Family Tax Benefits
This subsidy is designed to help with the continued cost of raising children and is broken down into two parts called, Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B.
Family Tax Benefit Part A
The amount of money that you are entitled to receive is based on the income of your family, the amount of children you have and the their ages. You could be eligible for the benefit if you have either children aged 0 – 15 years old dependent on you, or children aged 16 – 19 years old. If you have 16 – 19 year old dependents then they must be undertaking full-time education or training in an approved course.
If you need assistance in understanding more about your entitlements then you should contact the Family Assistance Office to find out exactly how much your family will receive in Part A. To help the office give you a rough idea, you will be required to provide an estimate of your income.
Family Tax Benefit Part B
This is an extra payment that you can receive for being a single parent or a family with one source of main income. This could mean that there is one parent who stays home to care for the child full-time or only earns a small income. You could be entitled to a pay-out if you care for a child for at least 35% of the time who is either of the following:
- A child who is under the age of 16 years old and dependent on you.
- A full time secondary student dependent on you until the end of the calendar year of which they are 18 years old.
The Australian government will not pay Family Tax Benefit Part B if you are already receiving Parental Leave Pay and from July 2016 they will no longer pay out Family Tax Benefit Part B if you’re a couple and your youngest is 13 years old.
Child Care Benefits
The Child Care benefit is pretty obvious, it helps parents with the cost of caring for their child as long as they are at a registered child care establishment either on long day care, family day care, occasional, outside school or vacation care.
The amount you are eligible to receive under this subsidy depends on your family income, but if it’s under $43,727 per annum then you will receive the full amount of $152,147 for one child, $157,654 for two and $178,023 for three plus an additional $33,671 for each child after your 3rd. The pay-out gets paid in either a lump sum or can be claimed in reduction fees. It’s also handy to know that grandparents, relatives, friends and neighbours can be registered carers, meaning parents can receive Child Care Benefits for Registered Care.
Eligibility Requirement of Child Care Benefits:
- Employ approved or registered child care.
- Provide your child with immunisation.
- Have responsibility for paying the child care fees.
Child Care Rebate
This rebate covers the cost of 50% of your child’s care expenses for approved childcare and can be a great relief to parents. The maximum amount of money that can be claimed per child per year is $7,500. There are four ways in which you can request to receive your money and they are: directly to the approved childcare service, directly to your bank account fortnightly, direct to your bank account quarterly or to your bank account annually.
Eligibility Requirements for Child Care Rebates:
- Both you and your partner must take the Work, Training, Study test.
- Use a Child Care Benefit approved service.
- Eligible for Child Care Benefit from approved care, even if your income is too high to receive payment.
This benefit is designed to help with the rising costs of school and it comes as an automatic payment so there is no need to apply for it. The subsidy is being phased out and the last payments will be made in July 2016.
If you receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A fortnightly then the Schoolkids Bonus will be automatically added to your payments each January and July. The amount that is currently awarded is $422 per year for primary school students and $842 per year for high school students. Both of these amounts come in the form of two instalments over the course of the year.
Eligibility Requirements for School Kids Bonuses:
- An income of $100,000 or less of adjusted taxable income (amended January 2015).
- A parent receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A for a dependent child attending primary school or high school.
Parenting Payment Benefit
Parenting payment is financial support for those parents or guardians that need help with the cost of raising a child or children. Only one parent can receive the benefit and the amount that is received will depend on the assets that both you and your partner have.
Eligibility Requirements for Parenting Payments:
- You are single and care for a child under 8 years old.
- You have a partner and care for a child under 6 years old.
- Complete the income and assets test.
There are certain circumstances where if you qualify for the Parenting Payment, then you may also be eligible to apply for further payments and services that are as follows:
- Helping your parents
- Health Care Card
- Energy Supplement
- Clean Energy Advance
- Telephone Allowance
- Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee assistance