How much does a single mum get from Centrelink?

mum worrying about finances

Wondering how much a single mum makes from Centrelink payments?

I did imagine myself as the glamorous girl boss of my own million-dollar empire. Instead, here I am: rummaging the internet for grocery coupons and promo codes while juggling a full-time and a part-time job to get by.

If you're like me, we're not alone. It really is extra challenging to be a parent - let alone a single parent - in this economy.

After all, 2023 researches reveal that one-third of single mums in the country experience financial hardship, with 1 out of 8 kids living below the poverty line.

If you're included in this statistic (or you're thinking there's a 100% chance you and your husband are separating soon), you must have been researching about the different benefits or subsidies you can get as a single mum. With this, I'm sure you've already heard about Centrelink payments.

Centrelink is part of Services Australia, a government department that provides money and services to Australian residents on behalf of other government programs. Centrelink supports those looking for jobs, students, parents or non-parent caregivers, Australian Aboriginals, and more.

Here's everything I know about the program.

There are various ways to receive assistance from Centrelink as a single mum.

1. Parenting payment (single)

If you're under 55, the principal provider of a child below 14 years old, meet residential requirements, do not receive other pensions from Centrelink, and have income and assets within the set limit, you may be eligible for Parenting Payment Single (PPS). This is the main income support for single parents who mostly look after a young child.

The amount you receive also includes a small energy supplement.

2. Family tax benefit

Another allowance you may apply for is Family Tax Benefit (FTB). In contrast to PPS, which is meant to support you as the parent, FTB is paid specifically to augment the cost of raising children. It is calculated using your taxable income and assets and the number of your kids.

To qualify for family tax benefits, your child must be 0 to 15 years old or a full-time secondary student (16 to 19 years old) who isn't receiving other benefits from Services Australia. Additionally, you must pass an income test, meet residence rules, and care for your child at least 35% of the time. Unlike PPS, you can apply for FTB even if you are not the principal carer.

Here, you can get two payments: one for individual dependent kids (FTB-A) and another for the family (FTB-B).

Aside from these, you can also apply for these subsidies:

3. Child care subsidy

If you're paying for childcare services for kids aged 13 and younger, you can get subsidised as well. This is paid directly to approved childcare providers to reduce fees before you get billed. You can get up to 90% of Child Care Subsidy (CSS) from the government.

This is such a great help for working mums. Even if you do not qualify for PPS and FTB because you're earning more than the income limits, you can still get CSS. Of course, your subsidy gets reduced as you earn more, but you still get help.

Like other benefits, the amount changes according to your family's circumstances, like your income, your child's age, how much time you spend with your kids, and the number of children. Use this calculator to see how much CSS you can get.

If your child is 14 to 18 years old and has a disability, you can also get CSS.

4. Rent assistance

Because I own a small home, I didn't qualify for this benefit from Centrelink. But if you're not a homeowner, you can get rent assistance from the government as well. You should be paying rent (outside of state housing) and already availing of any Centrelink payment.

The minimum rent is $1, and you get a subsidy of 75c. You don't have to apply for Rent Assistance, as Services Australia automatically assesses your eligibility.

5. JobSeeker Payment

But what if you don't have children under the age limits? You can still get government assistance through JobSeeker Payment. This allowance is given to help you get by while you don't have an income and looking for a job. This income is taxable, and you can request Services Australia to deduct this from your tax.

I'm not there yet since I'm still on PPS, but I heard once your youngest kid reaches the age limit, you automatically move from parenting to jobseeker.

There are still other benefits you may qualify for. For example, if your kids are Aboriginal Australians or if you're a rural farmer. Check out Services Australia for detailed information about other benefits the government can help you with.

how much does a single mum get from centrelink

OK, now we get to the point of this post. How much can you actually get from Centrelink?

Well, as you've probably guessed, the amount is not the same for everyone, as payments depend on your circumstances.

If you want to see how much you can receive, you can do so using the Payment Finder. Note that the amounts reflected here are only estimates and can change upon actual application.

But to give you an idea, I've compiled the maximum amounts you can get for different payment schemes discussed in this article, except CSS.

Payment Type (paid fortnightly)RecipientMaximum
(as of April 2024)
1. Parenting Payment SinglePer family$987.70
2. Family Tax Benefit Part A (0 to 12 years old)Per child$213.36
Family Tax Benefit Part A (13 to 15 years old)Per child$277.48
Family Tax Benefit Part A (16 to 19 years old)Per child$277.48
3. Family Tax Benefit Part B (0 to 4 years old)Per family$181.44
Family Tax Benefit Part B (5 to 18 years old)Per family$126.56
4. Rent AssistancePer family$188.20
5. JobSeeker Payment*Per parent$762.70
*JobSeeker Payment cannot coincide with Parenting Payment. You are eligible for only one benefit at a time.

There's also a yearly supplemental allowance of up to $879.65 for each eligible child under FTB-A and a lump sum of up to $420.77 per family under FTB-B.

Meanwhile, you can see examples of how Centrelink calculates CSS here.

As I mentioned before, the amount you can receive depends on individual circumstances. Some of the factors to look into are:

  • Your income. To be eligible for welfare payments from the government, you have to earn below a certain limit. If your income exceeds $2,730.85 for a fortnight, you don't get paid PPS for that fortnight. Income comes in the form of money and goods.
  • Your assets. What you own also impacts how much you get paid from Centrelink. For a single mum who owns a home, you must not have more than $301,750 in total assets. If you're a non-homeowner, you can't go above $543,750. Assets include financial investments, home contents, real estate, shares, and more.
  • Number of kids. The number of kids you have also affects not just how much you get paid but also your income and asset limits.

Calculate your income and assets here to see if you qualify.

There's no such thing as a free lunch, they say. If you have been approved for Centrelink payments, you also have some obligations to the government. They call this mutual obligation agreement.

First, you have to report your income every two weeks. Any increase or decrease in your fortnightly income can also increase or reduce the amount of money you receive for that period. If you don't, your payments will be cancelled.

Next, if you are eligible for the Family Tax Benefit, you must update your family income estimate before January 1.

If you are receiving a parenting allowance as a single mum, you also should inform them if there's a change in your circumstances, like having a partner.

Also, remember to make sure that your kids get immunised. My kids were once cut from receiving welfare because their paediatrician forgot to upload their vaccination records. (Don't worry; once your doctor updates their immunisation records, the payment will resume. Whew!)

If you're on JobSeeker Payment, you also have to agree to a job plan. Here, you have to reach a number of points or lose the allowance. These points come from doing tasks and activities such as looking for a job and getting interviews.

Find out about these commitments here.

Being a single mum, particularly being on government assistance, is challenging. As single mums, we find ourselves balancing multiple responsibilities while striving to make ends meet.

Services Australia through Centrelink provides support through various payments such as Parenting Payment Single, Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Subsidy, Rent Assistance, and JobSeeker Payment. These payments are tailored to assist with the financial cost of raising children and maintaining households.

However, it's crucial to understand that these benefits come with responsibilities. From reporting income regularly to fulfilling mutual obligation agreements, we are expected to meet certain criteria to continue receiving assistance. Despite this, Centrelink remains a lifeline for many single mums.

As an Australian, it's nice to think that we are not alone in this struggle. With the support of government programs like Centrelink, we can face these challenges head-on and provide a better future for ourselves and our kids.

Although the money you could potentially receive from Centrelink won't be enough to build your million-dollar girl boss empire, it can still make life as a single mum and providing for your children a whole lot easier.

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