Can You Be a Carer on Disability Pension?

Can You Be a Carer on Disability Pension?

  • Prakash Bartaula
  • 28 June, 2024
10 Min Read

Yes, you can be a carer while receiving the Disability Support Pension (DSP) in Australia, but you cannot receive the DSP and Carer Payment at the same time. You can receive the Carer Allowance in addition to the DSP, providing extra financial support. Ensure that caregiving does not exceed your work capacity or affect DSP eligibility, and report any changes to Centrelink.

Can You Be a Carer While Receiving Disability Support Pension?

The question of whether you can be a carer while receiving Disability Support Pension (DSP) is complex and requires a nuanced understanding of the Australian social security system. This comprehensive guide aims to explore this topic in detail, providing clarity on the possibilities, limitations, and considerations for individuals who find themselves in this unique situation.

can you be a carer on disability pension

What is Disability Support Pension (DSP)?

Before delving into the specifics of being a carer while on DSP, it’s crucial to understand what the Disability Support Pension entails.

The Disability Support Pension is a financial support payment provided by the Australian government to individuals whose physical, intellectual, or psychiatric impairment prevents them from working or being retrained for work within the next two years.

Eligibility for DSP

To be eligible for DSP, you must:

  1. Be aged between 16 and Age Pension age
  2. Meet the residency requirements
  3. Have a physical, intellectual, or psychiatric condition that meets the required impairment rating
  4. Be unable to work 15 hours or more per week at or above the relevant minimum wage for the next two years due to your impairment
  5. Have actively participated in a Program of Support, if required

Carer Payments and Allowances

To address the question of being a carer while on DSP, we need to understand the different types of carer support available in Australia.

Carer Payment

The Carer Payment is an income support payment for individuals who provide constant care to someone with a severe disability, illness, or who is frail aged.

Eligibility for Carer Payment

To be eligible, you must:

  • Provide constant care to someone with a severe disability, illness, or who is frail aged
  • Meet the income and assets tests
  • Be an Australian resident
  • Not be in substantial paid employment, education, or volunteering for more than 25 hours a week

Carer Allowance

The Carer Allowance is a supplementary payment for carers who provide additional daily care and attention to someone with a disability or medical condition.

Eligibility for Carer Allowance

To be eligible, you must:

  • Provide daily care and attention to someone with a disability or severe medical condition
  • Be an Australian resident
  • Live in Australia while caring for the person

Unlike the Carer Payment, there are no income or assets tests for the Carer Allowance. However, there is a family income test of $250,000 per annum.

Can You Be a Carer While on Disability Support Pension?

The short answer is yes, you can be a carer while receiving the Disability Support Pension, but there are important considerations and limitations to keep in mind.

Combining DSP and Carer Allowance

While you cannot receive both the DSP and Carer Payment simultaneously (as they are mutually exclusive income support payments), you can receive the Carer Allowance in addition to your DSP.

Benefits of Combining DSP and Carer Allowance

  1. Additional Income: The Carer Allowance provides extra financial support on top of your DSP. As of June 2024, the Carer Allowance rate is $153.50 per fortnight.
  2. Recognition of Care Work: Receiving Carer Allowance acknowledges the care you provide, even with your own disability.
  3. Access to Carer Supplement: You may be eligible for the annual Carer Supplement payment, which is $600 for each person you care for as of June 2024.
  4. Potential Eligibility for Other Support: Being recognized as a carer may open doors to other support services and programs.

Considerations When Being a Carer on DSP

  1. Work Capacity: Being on DSP means you have limited work capacity due to your disability. It’s crucial to ensure that your caring responsibilities don’t exceed what you’ve declared to Centrelink regarding your work capacity.
  2. Impact on DSP Eligibility: Your caring duties should not affect your DSP eligibility by demonstrating increased work capacity. If your condition improves to the point where you can work more than 15 hours per week, it could affect your DSP eligibility.
  3. Reporting Changes: You must inform Centrelink of any changes in your circumstances, including taking on caring responsibilities. Failure to do so could result in overpayments that you’ll need to repay.
  4. Health Management: It’s essential to balance your own health needs with your caring responsibilities. Ensure that your role as a carer doesn’t exacerbate your own condition.
  5. Care Needs Assessment: The person you’re caring for must meet certain care needs thresholds for you to be eligible for Carer Allowance. This is assessed using either the Adult Disability Assessment Tool (ADAT) for adults or the Disability Care Load Assessment (Child) (DCLA) for children under 16.

How to Apply for Carer Allowance While on DSP

If you’re already receiving DSP and want to claim Carer Allowance:

  1. Complete the “Claim for Carer Allowance” form
  2. Provide medical evidence about the person you care for
  3. Submit the form and supporting documents to Centrelink

Centrelink will assess your claim and may require additional information or assessments. They may also conduct a review of your DSP to ensure your caring duties don’t affect your eligibility.

Balancing Caring Responsibilities with Your Own Needs

Managing your own disability while caring for someone else can be challenging. Here are some strategies to help maintain this balance:

1. Self-Care

Prioritize your own health and wellbeing. This includes:

  • Following your treatment plan
  • Getting enough rest
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Engaging in activities you enjoy

can you be a carer on disability pension - selfcare

2. Time Management

Develop a schedule that allows time for:

  • Your own medical appointments and treatments
  • Caring responsibilities
  • Rest and relaxation

3. Seek Support

Don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed. This could include:

  • Family members and friends
  • Respite care services
  • Support groups for carers with disabilities

4. Use Assistive Technologies

Explore assistive technologies that can help both you and the person you’re caring for. This might include:

  • Mobility aids
  • Communication devices
  • Home automation systems

5. Regular Reviews

Regularly assess whether your caring responsibilities are compatible with managing your own condition. Be prepared to make changes if necessary.

Additional Support Services for Carers with Disabilities

There are various support services available that can assist you in your dual role as a person with a disability and a carer:

1. National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

If you’re eligible for the NDIS, your plan can include supports that help you in your caring role, such as:

  • Assistive technologies
  • Home modifications
  • Support worker assistance

2. Carer Gateway

The Carer Gateway provides a range of services for carers, including:

  • Counselling
  • Respite care
  • Skills courses
  • Connecting you with other carers

These centres can help arrange short-term and emergency respite care.

4. State and Territory Carer Associations

Each state and territory has a Carer Association that provides information, advice, and support to carers.

Financial Considerations

Managing finances can be complex when you’re receiving multiple payments and allowances. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Income Reporting

You need to report any income you earn to Centrelink, as it may affect your DSP payment rate. However, Carer Allowance is not considered income for tax purposes or for other Centrelink payments.

2. Tax Implications

While DSP is taxable, Carer Allowance is not. It’s advisable to consult with a tax professional to understand your specific tax obligations.

3. Concession Cards

As a DSP recipient, you’re eligible for a Pensioner Concession Card. If you receive Carer Allowance, you may also be eligible for a Health Care Card for the person you care for.

4. Additional Supplements

You may be eligible for additional payments such as:

  • Energy Supplement
  • Pharmaceutical Allowance
  • Rent Assistance (if you’re renting privately)

5. Financial Counselling

Consider seeking advice from a financial counsellor who can help you manage your income and expenses effectively.

financial support

Understanding your rights and having access to advocacy support is crucial when navigating the complex systems of disability support and carer payments.

1. Know Your Rights

Familiarize yourself with your rights under:

  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • The Carer Recognition Act 2010
  • Social Security Law

2. Advocacy Services

There are various advocacy services available, including:

  • Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA)
  • National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP)
  • Carers Australia

These organizations can provide support if you face issues with your payments or services.

3. Appeals Process

If you disagree with a decision made by Centrelink regarding your DSP or Carer Allowance, you have the right to appeal. The process typically involves:

  • Requesting a review by a Centrelink Authorised Review Officer
  • If still unsatisfied, appealing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Future Planning

When you’re managing your own disability while caring for someone else, it’s important to think about the future:

1. Advance Care Planning

Consider creating an Advance Care Directive for yourself and discussing this with the person you care for.

2. Financial Planning

Think about long-term financial security. This might include:

  • Superannuation
  • Insurance
  • Estate planning

3. Care Contingency Plans

Develop plans for what will happen if:

  • Your condition worsens and you can no longer provide care
  • The care needs of the person you’re caring for increase beyond your capacity

4. Skills Development

Consider opportunities to develop skills that could help you in your caring role or potentially lead to employment opportunities in the future.

Conclusion

Being a carer while receiving the Disability Support Pension is possible and can provide additional financial support through the Carer Allowance. However, it requires careful consideration of your own health needs, the intensity of care required, and potential impacts on your DSP eligibility.

Remember that your health and wellbeing should always be the priority. If at any point you feel that your caring responsibilities are negatively impacting your own health or exceed your capabilities, it’s crucial to reassess the situation and seek additional support.

Navigating the system can be complex, so don’t hesitate to seek advice from Centrelink, disability advocates, or legal professionals. Stay informed about your rights, available support services, and any changes to policies or payment rates.

Balancing your own needs with caring responsibilities is challenging, but with the right support and information, it’s possible to find a sustainable arrangement that works for both you and the person you care for.

Additional Resources

For more information and support, consider the following resources:

  1. Services Australia: www.servicesaustralia.gov.au
  2. National Disability Insurance Scheme: www.ndis.gov.au
  3. Carers Australia: www.carersaustralia.com.au
  4. People with Disability Australia: www.pwd.org.au
  5. Carer Gateway: www.carergateway.gov.au
  6. National Disability Services: www.nds.org.au
  7. Australian Government Department of Social Services: www.dss.gov.au

Remember, every situation is unique. While this guide provides general information, it’s always best to seek personalized advice for your specific circumstances. Your dual role as both a person with a disability and a carer is valuable and deserves recognition and support.

 

Prakash Bartaula

Joined : 5 April, 2024

I’m deeply passionate about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and dedicated to exploring its intricacies. Through research, communication, and writing, I aim to shed light on NDIS provisions and empower individuals with disabilities. Join me as we navigate the transformative potential of the NDIS together.

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