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
1. Eligibility Farm Household Allowance
What Farm Household Allowance covers
Farm Household Allowance can help with your household bills and financial circumstances.
- 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
Who can get Farm Household Allowance
You can get Farm Household Allowance if you meet certain criteria.
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 Farm Household Allowance videos to find out more about eligibilty.
Mutual obligation requirements for Farm Household Allowance
To get Farm Household Allowance, you must agree to follow the mutual obligations 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.
Residence rules for Farm Household Allowance
On the day you claim Farm household Allowance you must be an Australian resident and in Australia.
2. Payments Farm Household Allowance
How much Farm Household Allowance you can get
The amount of Farm Household Allowance you can get depends on your circumstances.
Income and assets test for Farm Household Allowance
You must meet an income and assets test to get Farm Household Allowance.
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.
Waiting period for Farm Household Allowance
You may have to wait a period of time to get Farm Household Allowance depending on your circumstances.
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.
Income reporting for Farm Household Allowance
Your off-farm income can affect your payment. You must tell us how much you earn each fortnight.
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
Activity Supplement for Farm Household Allowance
You can claim an activity supplement if you get Farm Household Allowance and are doing activities to meet your mutual obligation requirements.
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.
3. Claiming Farm Household Allowance
Claiming Farm Household Allowance
The easiest way to claim Farm Household Allowance is online.
Before you start
Check if you're eligible for Farm Household Allowance.
Watch our Farm Household Allowance videos to find out about claiming.
Information you need
Make sure you have:
Property and real estate
Assets and liabilities
Income and financials
Intent to claim
You can claim Farm Household Allowance by calling the Farmer Assistance Hotline. When you call you can register your intent to claim. You should do this as soon as possible to help you get paid from the earliest possible date.
If you want us to pay you from the date you registered an intent to claim, you need to submit your claim within 14 days.
You can claim Farm Household Allowance online. It is secure, convenient and easy to claim online.
Start your claim online
To make a claim online you need a Centrelink online account linked to myGov.
I have a myGov account linked to Centrelink
Sign in to myGov to start your claim.
I have a myGov account, but it’s not linked to Centrelink
Sign in to myGov and select Services. For help, read our online guides to link Centrelink to your myGov account.
I don’t have a Centrelink online account or a myGov account
If you’ve received a payment or service from us, you can use your Customer Reference Number (CRN) to get an online account. Find your CRN on a letter we’ve sent you or your Health Care Card, if you have one. Then, go to myGov to create a myGov account and use your CRN to link Centrelink.
You can then create a myGov account and link Centrelink.
If you need help with your Centrelink online account or mobile app, read the online account guides or watch our video demonstrations.
If you need help to submit your claim you can contact a Rural Financial Counsellor on 1800 686 175. Read more about the Rural Financial Counselling Service on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
Unable to claim online
If you are unable to claim online you can claim Farm Household Assistance by form or by calling the Farmers Assistance Hotline.
Complete the Claim for Farm Household Allowance form.
If we ask you to provide supporting documents, present them at a service centre within 14 days of your intent to claim.
Submit your claim
If you’re claiming online, you can submit your claim and most supporting documents electronically at the end of the process. Read more about submitting your documents online.
Submit your form and supporting documents within 14 days of advising your intent to claim:
- by post to:
Rural and Climate Change Services
Reply Paid 7816
CANBERRA BC ACT 2610
in person, at a service centre
Wait for the Results
We'll tell you if:
- your claim is successful, and
- any waiting period apply
You have the right to appeal our decision. Read more about reviews and appeals.
4. Managing your payment Farm Household Allowance
Farm Household Allowance business income reconciliation
To calculate Farm Household Allowance, we compare your estimated and actual business income. We reconcile your business income at the end of each financial year.
Reconciliation for 2016-17
If you got Farm Household Allowance in 2016–17, you have until 30 June 2018 to send us your income tax returns and financial statements.
Reconciliation for 2015-16
If you got Farm Household Allowance in 2015–16, you should have sent us your income tax returns and financial statements by 30 June 2017. If you haven’t done this, we will ask you to pay back the amount of Farm Household Allowance you received.
If the Australian Taxation Office has given you an exemption or extension you will have longer to send us your tax and financial documents. You need to send us proof of your exemption or extension. You can upload documents via your myGov account, or take them to a service centre. Contact your Farm Household Case Officer or the Farmer Assistance Hotline for more information.
If you have been overpaid we will ask you to pay the money back. This is because we work out how much Farm Household Allowance to pay you based on your farm’s business income.
If you’ve been underpaid you’ll get a top up payment.
Waiver of reconciliation debts for 2014-15
You don’t have to repay business income reconciliation debt from being overpaid in 2014–15. The government has waived those debts. However, you do have to repay any Farm Household Allowance business income reconciliation debts after this in full.
This waiver doesn’t cover business income reconciliation debts where:
- there is evidence of fraud, or
- 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
We ask you to estimate your farm’s business income:
- for the current financial year when you apply for Farm Household Allowance, and
- every financial year after that
We base the amount of farm household allowance we pay you on your estimated farm business income for the financial year.
Changes to your income and circumstances may affect the amount of Farm Household Allowance you get.
You can update your income estimate any time throughout the year, if your farm makes more money than you expected or your circumstances change. You must tell us about changes to your income within 14 days so that we don’t overpay you.
Step 2: Submit
After you submit your tax return to the Australian Taxation Office, you must send us your:
If you no longer get Farm Household Allowance, you still need to send us your documents. Otherwise, the amount we’ve already paid you that financial year will count as a debt.
Let us know if you get an extension on your tax return.
How to submit your documents
You can submit your documents:
Rural and Climate Change Services
Reply Paid 7816
CANBERRA BC ACT 2610
Step 3: Reconcile
We compare your tax returns and financial statements with the business income estimate you gave us. This allows us to work out the right amount of Farm Household Allowance for that year.
We’ll tell you if:
- you’ll get a top up payment
- you have been overpaid and need to repay an amount, or
- there’s no change
Repayment of debts
If you need to repay a debt, we’ll let you know how much.
You can still get Farm Household Allowance while you repay the debt.
You can ask for a review of a decision.
Change of circumstances when you get Farm Household Allowance
You need to report any changes to your circumstances when you get Farm Household Allowance.
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.
Farm Household Allowance while you travel outside Australia
There are rules about when we can pay your Farm Household Allowance while you are 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, your travel has to be for an approved reason or your payment will stop on departure. If it is for an approved reason your payment will continue for up to 6 weeks.
Approved reasons for payment overseas
Farm Household Allowance may be paid outside Australia for these 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 get eligible medical treatment that isn’t 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.
Telling us about your travel
You should always tell us if you plan to leave Australia.
Read more about payments while outside Australia.
Time limits for Farm Household Allowance
You can only get Farm Household Allowance for 3 years.
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
You can get help to manage your money if your 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
- 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 Farm Household Allowance
When you stop getting Farm Household Allowance you may be able to get other payments or support services.
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
Farmer Assistance Hotline
A phone service for farmers and their partners to talk to us about Farm Household Allowance.
Specialist staff can give you advice about:
- progress of applications
- change in circumstances
- reporting, and
- general enquiries
Call the Farmer Assistance Hotline and talk to us about assistance we give to farmers.
5. Resources Farm Household Allowance
Our Farm Household Allowance videos can help you
Watch our new Farm Household Allowance videos to see how we can help you and your farm.
We know that applying for Farm Household Allowance is a big step. Our 3 videos will help you find out what you need to know to make claiming easy.
Our Farm Household Allowance video tells you why it’s something you should consider applying for. It lets you know what financial support you could get in hard times.
To help you work out if you can get it, watch our Farm Household Allowance Eligibility video. It walks you through what you need to be eligible.
To find out how to claim and who can help you, watch our Farm Household Allowance Claiming video.
Remember, the best way to claim is online and it’s important you send us all the documents we need when you do the claim.
Financial Information Service and Farm Household Allowance
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 and Farm Household Allowance
Our social workers can offer support and information to help you during difficult times. Social workers can link you to other supports and services.
Read more about social workers.
Payment and Service Finder
Select the options that describe your circumstances, then explore a list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
Payment and Service Finder can help you work out amounts of:
- Centrelink payments, including pensions and allowances
- Family Tax Benefit
- Child care fee assistance
To work out how much money you may get, answer the questions and choose a payment you want to estimate.
Manage your money
We’ve got advice and tools to help you with budgeting, borrowing and credit, and managing debt.
- how our payments and services may help you manage your money day to day
- how to manage money and debt
- about how borrowing and credit can help you better manage your money
- ways to manage your money to build savings
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.
You can start, change or stop using it whenever you like.
You can use it for your regular bills and other ongoing expenses – such as rent, electricity and phone.
Read more about how Centrepay works.