Choosing between Carer Payment and Age Pension

In some situations, you can choose to get Carer Payment or Age Pension.

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Who can choose

You can choose to get Carer Payment or Age Pension if both of these apply to you:

  • you‘re over Age Pension age
  • you‘re providing care for someone with a disability or medical condition.

What each payment is for

Carer Payment is an income support payment if you provide constant care to someone who:

  • has a severe disability or medical condition
  • is an adult who is frail aged.

The term frail aged means an older Australian who’s in need of a substantial level of care and support.

Age Pension gives you income support and access to a range of concessions. If you get Age Pension you can also access incentives to maximise your income.

Just before you reach Age Pension age, we’ll invite you to transfer to Age Pension. You’ll need to tell us if you:

  • want to transfer to Age Pension or stay on Carer Payment
  • have any superannuation.

How they are similar

Some ways Carer Payment and Age Pension are similar include:

  • the rate of payment depends on your circumstances
  • both payments have income and assets tests
  • you can get a Pensioner Concession Card
  • Rent Assistance rates are the same, except if you’re single and share privately rented accommodation.

Both are also taxable. However, Carer Payment is only taxable when the carer or the care receiver reaches Age Pension age.

How they are different

If you get Carer Payment or Age Pension, there are some different rules.

Circumstances Carer Payment Age Pension
Income and assets tests for the care receiver. We assess the income and assets of the care receiver. We’ll do this if they’re not already getting income support from us or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Does not apply.
Reviews. We may review your and your care receiver’s circumstances. This is to confirm the care receiver’s needs still qualify you for Carer Payment. If you get Age Pension and Carer Allowance, we may review your circumstances. We may also review that you continue to provide daily care and attention. This helps us confirm that you continue to qualify for Carer Allowance.
Travelling outside Australia.

If you travel temporarily outside Australia without the person you provide care for, we can pay Carer Payment. We can pay you for up to 6 weeks if you have respite days available.

If you travel temporarily outside Australia with the person you provide care for, we can pay Carer Payment. We can pay you for the first 6 weeks. In some circumstances we can pay Carer Payment for longer than 6 weeks.

If you or the person you provide care for stop living in Australia, your Carer Payment will stop on departure. It won’t stop if you qualify under an international social security agreement.

Read more about Carer Payment if you travel outside Australia.

There are separate rules for Carer Allowance if you travel outside Australia.

You can get Age Pension for the whole time you’re outside Australia. It doesn’t matter if you travel temporarily or to live in another country. Some exceptions may apply.

The rate of Age Pension you’re paid outside Australia may change.

Read more about Age Pension if you travel outside Australia.

There are separate rules for Carer Allowance if you travel outside Australia.

Breaks from caring (respite) or hospitalisation.

You can take a break from caring for up to 63 days each calendar year. This won’t change your Carer Payment. If you stop providing care for more than 63 days, we may cancel your payment.

You are also allowed 63 additional days from caring per calendar year. This is if the person is in hospital temporarily and you still help with their care.

You can take a break from caring. This will not affect your Age Pension.

Carer Supplement.

If you get Carer Payment or Carer Allowance on 1 July, you’ll be eligible for an annual Carer Supplement of $600. You’ll get the Carer Supplement each year for as long as you remain eligible.

If you get Carer Payment and Carer Allowance on 1 July, you’ll be eligible for a further annual Carer Supplement. You can get up to $600 for each person you provide care for.

You won’t be able to get Carer Supplement if you only get Age Pension. But, you will be eligible if you also get Carer Allowance.
Rent Assistance.

You may get a higher maximum rate of Rent Assistance if you’re:

  • getting Carer Payment
  • single
  • sharing privately rented accommodation.

You may get a lower maximum rate of Rent Assistance if all of the following applies. You’re:

  • getting Age Pension
  • single
  • sharing  privately rented accommodation.
Working, volunteering, studying or training.

You can get Carer Payment and still either:

  • work
  • volunteer
  • study
  • train.

You can do this for up to 25 hours a week, including travel time.

Any income you get may affect your rate of payment.

If you get Age Pension, there’s no limit on how many hours a week you can either:

  • work
  • volunteer
  • study
  • train.

Any income you get may affect your rate of payment.

Study assistance.

If you study and get Carer Payment, you may get a Pensioner Education Supplement and an Education Entry Payment.

If you study and get Age Pension, you can’t get a Pensioner Education Supplement or an Education Entry Payment.

Casual or contract work.

You may have to wait to get Carer Payment. This applies if during the 6 months before you claim, you or your partner stopped any of these high income types of work:

  • contract
  • casual
  • intermittent.

We consider this a seasonal work preclusion period.

If you get Age Pension, there’s no seasonal work preclusion period.

If you have a partner who currently gets Wife Pension.

If you transfer to Carer Payment, your partner will no longer be eligible for:

If you get Age Pension, your partner will keep getting their Wife Pension.

There are additional rules if you get Carer Allowance and Age Pension.

What if the person you care for dies

There are differences in how the death of the person you provide care for affects your Carer Payment or Age Pension.

Circumstances Carer Payment Age Pension

The person you cared for was your partner.

You may get a lump sum bereavement payment if your partner was getting an income support payment from either:

  • us
  • the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

You may keep getting Carer Payment for up to 14 weeks. We’ll adjust your regular fortnightly payments to the single rate. You can then consider transferring to another payment such as Age Pension.

You may get a lump sum bereavement payment if your partner was getting an income support payment from either:

  • us
  • the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

You’ll keep getting Age Pension.

We’ll adjust your regular fortnightly payments to the single rate.

You weren’t the partner of the person you cared for, but their partner is getting either:

  • a Centrelink pension or benefit
  • a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Service Pension
  • an income support supplement.

You can’t get a bereavement payment.

You may keep getting Carer Payment for up to 14 weeks. You can then consider transferring to another payment such as Age Pension.

You can’t get a bereavement payment.

You’ll keep getting Age Pension.

You weren’t the partner of the person you cared for, and their partner is not getting either:

  • a Centrelink pension or benefit
  • a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Service Pension
  • an income support supplement.

You may get a lump sum bereavement payment.

You may keep getting Carer Payment for up to 14 weeks. You can then consider transferring to another payment such as Age Pension.

You can’t get a bereavement payment.

You’ll keep getting Age Pension.

The person you cared for was single.

If you get Carer Payment you may get a lump sum bereavement payment.

You’ll keep getting Carer Payment for up to 14 weeks. You can then consider transferring to another payment such as Age Pension.

If you get Age Pension you can’t get a bereavement payment.

You’ll keep getting Age Pension.

Related payments and services

Page last updated: 9 April 2019