Single Parent Payment: Centrelink Sole Parenting Payment explained

A guide to your entitlements

February 11 2020

There is no specific single parent payment or single parent pension in Australia. However, you can still access some government support as there are a few payments you may be eligible for. Here is a guide to the most common ones, which you can access as a single mother or father of a dependent child.

Parenting Payment
The main payment available to single parents is a Centrelink Parenting Payment, which you can access if you are the principal carer of a child younger than eight if you are single and a child younger than six if you have a partner. There are also other criteria you need to meet.

If you share the care of your child with an ex, only one person at a time can be the principal carer. If two people have equal care, they need to nominate a principal carer.
In order to qualify for the payment, you also need to meet residence rules and income and asset tests.

You need to be an Australian resident and in Australia on the day you claim your Parenting Payment. Newly arrived residents usually have to wait two to four years before they can claim this payment.

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Income test
If you’re single, you can get a part payment if you earn less than $2158.85 gross income a fortnight. If you have more than one child, this increases by $24.60 per child. Your payment will be reduced by 40 cents for every $ you earn over this amount.

If you have a partner who gets a pension from Centrelink, you and your partner’s combined gross income will be assessed. To get the full payment, you must earn less than $208 combined each fortnight. You can get a part payment if you have a combined income of less than $1956.68 each fortnight.

If you have a partner who doesn’t get a Centrelink pension your incomes will be assessed separately. You could get a part payment if you earn less than $978.34 each fortnight, your partner earns less than $1828.33 each fortnight and your combined income is less than $1957.34 each fortnight.

If you or your partner’s income changes you must inform Centrelink within 14 days of the changes.

Assets test
Any assets that you or your family own are assessed. This doesn’t include your family home but it includes almost everything else.

How much is single parent payment?
The amount you can receive depends on your and, if you have one, your partner’s income and assets. You are paid every fortnight, not every week or month. The most you can receive as a single person is $776.10 each fortnight. This includes a Pension Supplement.

The most you can get as a couple is $501.70. You can receive up to $601.10 if you’re a couple separated due to illness, respite care or prison.

You can lodge your Parenting Payment claim online. You can’t submit a claim before your child is born.

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Obligation and participation requirements
If you’re single and your youngest child is six or seven, you’ll have to attend an appointment and agree to a Job Plan. The Job Plan requirements could include looking for work, working part time, studying or doing an approved activity.

If your youngest child is under six, you may have participation requirements. You may have to take part in ParentsNext, a support service that helps with study and work goals.

If you don’t attend all your appointments and meet all your requirements, your Parenting Payment may be stopped or reduced.

Newstart Allowance
If you’re unemployed and looking for work, over 22 but younger than 65, and meet residence rules and income and assets tests, you may also be eligible for a Newstart Allowance.

You may also be able to receive it while earning money from a part-time or casual job. You can earn up to $104 a fortnight, so up to $52 a week. If you’re single, with at least one dependent child, and unemployed, your maximum fortnightly payment is $601.10, so $300.55 a week.

If you’re single and the principal carer of a dependent child, you need to be earning less than $1630.50 a fortnight. If you’re single with a dependent child but not the principal carer, you need to earn less than $1146.67 a fortnight.

You’ll need to look and apply for jobs as part of your Job Plan, attend any relevant training and tell Centrelink if your circumstances change.

Family Tax Benefit
If you’re a single parent with a child under 18 that is studying, you may also be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part B.

You need to meet residence requirements, your child must be fully vaccinated and you must have an annual adjusted taxable income of under $100,000.

The amount of family payments you receive depends on your income and the number of hours you care for your child. The maximum you can receive are family payments of $155.54 a fortnight if your child is under five and $108.64 a fortnight if they’re aged 5-18.

Single Income Family Supplement
This payment is now closed to new customers. However, if you were receiving this yearly payment of $300 before 30 June 2017 and are still eligible, you will continue to receive it.

You need to have one main income earner whose taxable income is between $68,000 and $150,000 and at least one eligible child in your care.
The Baby Bonus has now been abolished altogether.

Verifying your relationship status
If you’re a single parent and have lodged a Newstart Allowance or Parenting Payment claim after 20 September 2018, you will need to verify your relationship status. If your claim was lodged before this date, Centrelink will be writing to you to confirm your relationship status between January 2018 and November 2021. You will need to fill in a form and have an independent person verify your relationship status.

If you get a new boyfriend or girlfriend, you will need to notify Centrelink as it may affect your payment.

You can visit the Department of Human Services website for more information on any of these payments or for a calculator or online estimator for child support.

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