Farm Household Allowance
A payment for farming families in financial hardship.
- a farmer who spends a major part of your time and capital working on the farm, or the partner of a farmer who does
- is not over the income and assets test limits
- meets mutual obligation requirements
Eligibility & payment rates
What it covers
- a fortnightly payment for a maximum period of three years
- a Farm Household Case Officer to work with you to improve your financial circumstances
- an Activity Supplement worth up to $4,000 to pay for study, training or professional advice that will help improve your financial position
Watch our video to find out more about Farm Household Allowance.
Who can get it
You can get Farm Household Allowance if you:
- are a farmer or partner of a farmer
- are 16 years of age or older
- contribute labour and capital to an Australian farm, or are the partner of a farmer who does
- meet an income and assets test
- meet residency rules, and
- have had less than 3 years of Farm Household Allowance
Your farm must have significant commercial purpose. We'll assess this based on:
- the purpose of your farm
- the prospect for profit
- consistency of activity
- whether your farm runs as a business, and
- the size, scale and permanency of your farm activity
Watch our video to find out more about eligibilty.
Mutual obligation requirements
- complete a Farm Financial Assessment.
Financial advisors can help you do this. The assessment looks at your, your partner’s and your farm’s financial position.
- sign a Financial Improvement Agreement.
This aims to help improve your financial circumstances. A Farm Household case officer will work with you on this and anything that may affect your agreement.
- have regular contact with a Farm Household Case Officer.
They'll meet with you every 3 months to talk about your progress. This can be in person or over the phone.
How much you get
Income and assets tests
Your income must be below the cut off for the Newstart Allowance income test.
We’ll also look at any off-farm income when working out your payment.
Read more in the Farm Household Allowance Guidelines on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
If you earn less than $0 from your farm, you can use your off-farm income against a loan. You can offset up to $80,000 of off-farm income against interest repayments on a loan. You must prove the loan contract isn’t renegotiated.
To see if the off-farm income offset applies to you, submit a claim or call the Farmer Assistance Hotline.
There are 2 parts to the assets test.
Part 1 – non-farm and liquid assets test
The first part looks at non-farm and liquid assets owned by you, your family and your business.
Liquid assets include:
- business bank accounts
- term deposits, and
- other financial accounts
They don’t include your family home and up to 2 hectares of land surrounding it, if:
- it’s listed on a single title, and
- used for domestic purposes
Part 2 – total net assets
The second part looks at your family’s total farm assets. These must be below $2.55 million.
If you or your partner own water assets, you need to tell us when you claim or if your circumstances change.
You must tell us the:
- water asset you hold
- way it’s used, such as:
- 70% for watering crops
- 20% for environmental management
- 10% for domestic use
- volume of each asset by kilolitre, megalitre, or gigalitre
- estimated market value of each type of asset, for example the dollar amount per megalitre
You also need to give us evidence to support your:
- ownership of the water assets
- estimate of the value of your water assets, such as advice from a water authority or bank valuation
If you need help estimating your water assets, contact your:
- state or territory water authority
- an accountant or financial adviser
If your water asset is security for a loan, we’ll consider this. You’ll need to provide evidence of the loan.
Liquid assets waiting periods will not apply to FHA claims granted on or after 5 April 2017.
Ordinary Waiting Periods will not apply to FHA claims granted on or after 5 April 2017.
The time you spend waiting doesn’t count as part of your 3 years of entitlement to Farm Household Allowance.
Other waiting periods may be applied depending on your circumstance.
Check if you’re eligible before you start your claim.
- find out what you need before you start
- choose your claiming option
- submit any documents we ask for
- submit your claim
- wait for us to assess your claim and tell you the result
Managing your payment
Tell us your income by:
- using your Centrelink online account through myGov
- calling the income reporting line on your reporting day
- calling the Farmer Assistance Hotline between 8 am to 8 pm on your regular reporting day
Update your business income estimate through the Farmer Assistance Hotline or visit a service centre.
Read more about income reporting
Business income reconciliation
Reconciliation for 2015-16
If you were getting Farm Household Allowance in 2015–16, you needed to send us your income tax returns and financial statements by 30 June 2017. If you haven’t done this, your payment may be cancelled.
We may ask you to pay money back. If the Australian Taxation Office has given you an exemption or extension, you must send us proof. You can upload documents via your MyGov account, or supply them in person. Contact your Farm Household Case Officer or the Farmer Assistance Hotline for more information.
Waiver of reconciliation debts for 2014-15
You don’t have to repay business income reconciliation debts from 2014–15. However, you do have to repay any Farm Household Allowance debts after this in full.
This waiver doesn’t cover debts:
- where there’s evidence of fraud, or
- where you haven’t met your mutual obligations
Despite the waiver, you must still provide documents to follow the reconciliation process.
The reconciliation process
There are 3 steps in the reconciliation process:
Step 1: Estimate your farm’s business income
When you apply for Farm Household Allowance, we'll ask you to:
- estimate your business income for the current financial year, and
- every financial year after that
You can update your income estimate any time during the year. You must tell us within 14 days.
Changes may affect the amount of Farm Household Allowance you get.
Step 2: Submit your income tax return and financial statements
After submitting your tax return to the Australian Taxation Office, you must send us:
If you're no longer getting Farm Household Allowance, you still need to send us your documents. Otherwise, the amount you get that financial year will count as debt.
You should let us know if you get an extension on your tax return.
How to submit your documents
You can submit your documents:
- by post to:
Rural and Climate Change Services
Reply Paid 7816
CANBERRA BC ACT 2610
- at a service centre
Step 3: We'll reconcile your actual business income against your estimated business income
We compare your tax returns and financial statements with your estimated business income. This allows us to work out your Farm Household Allowance.
We’ll tell you:
- if you’ll get a top up payment
- need to repay an amount, or
- if there’s no change
If you need to repay a debt, we’ll let you know how much.
You can still get Farm Household Allowance while repaying a debt.
You can ask for a review of a decision.
You can claim an Activity Supplement of up to $3,000. This will help pay for activities in your Financial Improvement Agreement.
If you’re in your third year of getting Household Allowance, you may be able to claim an extra $1,000. This will help pay for high value activities by the end of your 3 years.
Talk to your Farm Household Case Officer to check if you can get the Activity Supplement.
Change of circumstances
If you don’t tell us when changes happen, you may be doing the wrong thing.
You need to tell us if:
- you change your address
- your income changes
- you don’t have to lodge a tax return
- you get a partner or separate from your partner, or
- your workload changes
How and when to tell us
The easiest way to tell us about changes is through our self service options.
You need to:
- tell us within 14 days of the change
- make sure your details are up to date in myGov
It’s never too late to report a change.
If you don’t tell us
If you don’t tell us about changes in your life, we may pay you too much. If this happens, you must pay the money back, plus a fee.
If you don’t tell us when your circumstances change, you could be committing fraud.
While travelling outside Australia
Rules for Farm Household Allowance outside Australia
If you leave Australia to live in another country, your Farm Household Allowance payment will stop on departure.
If you leave Australia temporarily, you need to be travelling for an approved reason or your payment will stop on departure.
Approved reasons for payment overseas
Farm Household Allowance may be paid outside Australia for a negotiated period of up to 6 weeks for the following approved reasons:
- to attend an acute family crisis, for example to visit a family member who is critically ill
- for humanitarian reasons, for example to adopt a child or attend custody proceedings, or
- to receive eligible medical treatment that is not available in Australia
If you are attending a training camp with the Australian Defence Force Reserves you can get your payment for the duration of the training.
When to tell us about your travel
You should always tell us if you are leaving Australia.
The easiest way to tell us about your travel plans is to use your Centrelink online account through myGov. You can get information on how your payments and concession cards could be affected. You may need to phone us to discuss your circumstances further.
Read more about payments while outside Australia.
You don’t have to use these 3 years all at once.
Once you use your 3 years, your payment stops. You may be able to get an extra activity supplement in your third year.
Your case officer can help and connect you with other support services.
You can also:
My bank account is overdrawn
Overdrawn bank account
A bank account is overdrawn if your balance goes below zero.
This can happen if:
- it looks like you have money to take out but another transaction hasn’t gone through yet
- you use direct debit to pay your bills
This creates a debt to the bank. Your bank might also charge you a fee. Remember, you have to pay the debt and fee back to them.
Sometimes your bank will take money from your account to pay back the debt and fee. They can't take& more than 10% of your Centrelink payment. This is to protect your payment.
Bank means a bank, building society or credit union where you have an account.
Under the Code of Operation, your bank can't take more than 10% of your payment if you get:
- Age Pension
- Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment
- Bereavement Allowance
- Carer Allowance
- Carer Payment
- Crisis Payment
- Disability Support Pension
- Double Orphan Pension
- Education Entry Payment
- Farm Household Allowance
- Income Support Bonus (payment no longer exists)
- Mobility Allowance
- Newstart Allowance
- Parental Leave Pay
- Parenting Payment
- Partner Allowance
- Pension Supplement
- Schoolkids Bonus
- Sickness Allowance
- Special Benefit
- Widow Allowance
- Widow B Pension
- Wife Pension
- Youth Allowance
Also, if you get one of the payments above, your bank can't take more than 10% of your:
- ABSTUDY supplements
- Assistance for Isolated Children
- Baby Bonus
- Bereavement Payment
- Carer Adjustment Payment
- Carer Supplement
- Child Care Benefit
- Child Care Rebate
- Child Disability Assistance Payment
- Dad and Partner Pay
- Energy Supplement
- Essential Medical Equipment Payment
- Family Tax Benefit
- Low Income Family Supplement
- Low Income Supplement
- Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement
- Pension Bonus Bereavement Payment
- Pension Bonus Scheme
- Pension Bonus Top Up
- Pensioner Education Supplement
- Pension Loans Scheme
- Pharmaceutical Allowance
- Remote Area Allowance
- Rent Assistance
- Single Income Family Supplement
- Stillborn Baby Payment
- Telephone Allowance
- Utilities Allowance
- Work Bonus
- Youth Disability Supplement
And, they can't take more than 10% of these Department of Veterans' Affairs payments:
- Crisis payment
- Defence Force Income Support Allowance
- Education Entry Payment
- Income Support Supplement
- Periodic Payments of Wholly Dependent Partner's Pension
- Service Pension - age, invalidity, or partner
- War Widow(er)'s Pension
You can repay more than 10% to your bank if you wish.
This agreement about how banks recover money from you does not cover all types of income. Speak to your bank about their fees and repayment policies.
Example of a protected payment
If you get a payment of $200, you can keep at least $180 (90%) of your payment. The bank can take up to $20 (10%) to repay the debt and fee.
Banks that agree to the protected payment
A list of banks, building societies and credit unions that agree to the Code are on these websites:
- Australia Bankers' Association members
- Australian Finance Industry Association members
- Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) members who have signed the COBA Code of Practice
When the Code doesn't protect your payment
The Code doesn't protect you if:
- your account is overdrawn due to a dishonest or unlawful act
- a third party gets money you owe them from your account - for example, they have a court order to do so
Help from your bank
Talk to your bank if you overdraw your account. They can help you manage your debt.
You need to respond to requests from your bank about your debt within 60 days. If you don’t they could:
- make a report to a credit reporting body which can affect your credit rating, or
- take legal action to force you to repay your debt
If you can't resolve disputes with your bank, contact the:
Help from us
If you don’t have enough money to live on, we can help. We'll check if your bank has followed the Code. Call your regular payment number if you’d like us to help.
Other support services
Find a financial counsellor in your area on the Financial Counselling Australia website.
Helping you transition off
There are a number of reasons why you may be about to transition off FHA, including you:
- are in a better financial situation
- have received the maximum period of payment
- are no longer farming
- are preparing for retirement
- have had your circumstances change
Also on this page you can read about:
When you stop receiving FHA, your Health Care Card will also stop.
Better financial situation
If your financial situation has improved, let us know as soon as this happens so we don’t overpay you. If we overpay you, you will get a debt and may have to pay the money back.
If you haven’t reached the maximum period of payment you will be able to apply for FHA again, if you need to in the future.
Even if you no longer get FHA you still need to reconcile your business income for each financial year that you got it. Just send us your tax returns and financial statements and we will work out if we have paid you:
- the right amount
- too much, or
- if you need a top up payment
Received the maximum period of payment
You can get FHA for a maximum of 1,095 days – about 3 years. As you enter the third year of payment, talk to your Farm Household Case Officer about transitioning off the payment. You may be able to get an additional activity supplement in your third year.
Additional Activity Supplement
If you haven’t accessed your Activity Supplements yet, you may still be able to access it. This includes the $1,000 Additional Activity Supplement available in the third year.
Activity Supplements aim to help you reach financial independence when getting FHA. For some people, their goal is to remain on the farm. They use the activity supplements to pay for advice or training related to their farm. For others, their goal is to find work away from the farm. They may use the supplement to pay for study or training. This applies even if you haven’t finished the activity by the time you come off the payment.
No longer farming
If you’re no longer farming, or your partner is no longer farming, you may not be eligible for this payment. If your situation has changed and your farm is no longer significantly used for commercial purposes, your payment may stop.
We can gear your Financial Improvement Agreement towards you improving your skills to find work in other areas. As you improve your skills and come off the payment, you may be eligible for income support or other benefits, including:
- Newstart Allowance if you’re looking for work
- Disability Support Pension if you’re not able to work due to a disability
- Family Tax Benefit and Parenting Payment if you’re raising children
- Low Income Health Care Card if you’re on a low income
You can check to see if you’re eligible for our other payments and services. Use our Payment and Service Finder.
Preparing for retirement
They can give you details about succession planning and what to consider when you plan for retirement.
They can also help you apply for the Age Pension and give you details about fees to do with moving into aged care facilities.
Ask a FIS officer if your decision to retire affects your eligibility for Age Pension. You have to meet an income and assets test when you claim Age Pension. Your decisions about selling or handing over your farm to your family may impact this.
Read more about Age Pension and planning your retirement.
You can get free financial advice about succession planning from Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ rural financial counsellors.
If you haven’t met with one yet your Farm Household Case Officer can refer you to a rural financial counsellor.
Your circumstances have changed
We may be able to help if you have a crisis in your health, relationship, or financial situation. If you are no longer on your farm where you had been receiving Farm Household Allowance we may be able to help.
If you’ve left your relationship and are no longer a farmer or farmer’s partner you may be eligible for other payments and services. You can talk to one of our social workers. They help people who are suffering loss and bereavement, relationship breakdown, mental health or other issues.
If you have children, we can help you claim child support payments from a previous partner. Read more about your choices as a separated parent.
People who are not able to work due to disability or illness can apply for the Disability Support Pension and Sickness Allowance.
Farm Household Case Officers
Farm Household Case Officers can refer you to a number of services as you transition off the payment.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ Rural Financial Counselling Service can provide free financial advice. The counsellors can help you with long term financial plans for your farm. They can also help with short term issues like debt mediation. A rural financial counsellor can see you even if you don’t get a payment from us.
Our Financial Information Service also provides free financial information. Officers give details to help you make informed decisions about investment and financial matters. This can be both for your current and your future needs.
Our social workers can help with short term counselling, support and information to help you through a difficult time.
Farm Household Case Officers can also help you access local government and community support services.
Other payments and services
You can also check to see if you’re eligible for our other payments and services. Use our Payment and Service Finder. Most income support payments and concession cards have an income and assets test. You may not be eligible if your income or assets are high.
If your assets are high but your income is low, you may be eligible for the Low Income Health Care Card. It has an income test, but doesn’t have an assets test.
You can check for other support services in your state or territory through our Payment and Service Finder.
Find details about state government assistance in:
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
Financial Information Service
Our Financial Information Service gives you free, confidential help and information on money and lifestyle issues.
Read about the Financial Information Service.
Help from social workers
Our social workers can offer support and information to help you during difficult times. Social workers can link you to other supports and services.
Try self service
Do your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self service options, including our Express Plus mobile apps, online accounts and phone self service.
Read more about using self service.
Payment and Service Finder
Find, estimate and compare payments and services you may be eligible for. You can also work out what a change in circumstance might mean for the payments and services you currently get from us.
Manage your money
We’ve got advice and tools to help you with budgeting, borrowing and credit, and managing debt.
Read about how to manage your money.
Regular deductions using Centrepay
You can use our free and voluntary service to pay bills as regular deductions from your Centrelink payments.
Read more about how Centrepay works.