Carer Adjustment Payment - Questions and Answers
- What is the Carer Adjustment Payment?
- Who may be eligible for CAP?
- Where to Claim this assistance?
- What is a 'catastrophic event'?
- Why is CAP restricted to the adjustment period following a catastrophic event?
- How old can the child I care for be?
- What constitutes significant care requirements?
- Are there specific medical criteria?
- Must I apply for Carer Payment (child) to be eligible for CAP?
- Can I be in receipt of another income support payment?
- What is meant by very strong financial need?
- Can I claim if I share care of the child?
- Are there any other restrictions I should know?
- How do I apply?
- How long will my claim take to process?
- Who will make the decision?
- How much can I get from CAP?
- Can I request a review of the decision?
- Can I retest my eligibility at a later date?
1. What is the Carer Adjustment Payment?
The Carer Adjustment Payment (CAP) is a one off ex gratia payment providing financial assistance of up to $10,000 to families in exceptional circumstance who do not qualify for any Government income support payments.
CAP is intended to assist families to adjust following a catastrophic event where a child aged under 7 years is diagnosed with a severe disability or severe medical condition. The event must have caused an adjustment in the care arrangements that cause the family financial hardship that can be assisted by a one-off ex-gratia grant.
Examples of catastrophic events may include (but are not limited to);
- diagnosis of a severe medical condition such as childhood cancer
- childhood stroke
- car accident
- near drowning, or
- other type of accident
Note: For the purpose of this payment a claimant must be eligible for and receiving Carer Allowance in respect of the child.
2. Who may be eligible for CAP?
Families will be able to apply for assistance through CAP where, following a catastrophic event, all of the following criteria are met:
- the child, aged under 7 years, is diagnosed with a severe disability or severe medical condition; and
- the child has significant care requirements – that is, requires full-time care from the carer for a minimum of two months following the catastrophic event; and
- the child's carer is eligible for and receiving Carer Allowance in respect of the child; and
- the carer is not eligible for and receiving Carer Payment; and
- the carer and/or their partner are not eligible for an income support payment; and
- the carer is able to demonstrate a very strong need for financial support during the adjustment period after the catastrophic event; and
- the claim is lodged within 2 years from the date of diagnosis of a severe disability or severe medical condition following the catastrophic event.
3. Where to claim this assistance?
Your claim for CAP must be lodged with the Australian Government Department of Human Services (Centrelink) within 2 years from the date of diagnosis of a severe disability or severe medical condition following the catastrophic event.
4. What is a 'catastrophic event'?
A catastrophic event for the purposes of CAP is where a child aged under 7 years is diagnosed with a severe disability or severe medical condition. The catastrophic event (diagnosis) must have caused an adjustment in the care arrangements that cause the family financial hardship that can be assisted by a one-off ex-gratia payment. Examples of catastrophic events may include (but are not limited to):
- diagnosis of a severe medical condition such as childhood cancer,
- childhood stroke,
- car accident,
- near drowning, or
- other type of accident.
5. Why is CAP restricted to the adjustment period following a catastrophic event?
CAP is intended to assist families to adjust to changed or sudden caring requirements immediately following a catastrophic event. The adjustment period is generally the period of change from the previous caring arrangements for the child to the new caring regime following a catastrophic event. The adjustment period for the purposes of CAP is taken to be 12 months from the catastrophic event (diagnosis date). CAP is not designed to pay for ongoing, regular care requirements or for catastrophic events that occurred some time ago.
6. How old can the child I care for be?
A requirement of CAP is that the child being cared for is under 7 years when the catastrophic event occurs.
Claims can be lodged after the child turns 7, but the adjustment period must have commenced before the child turns 7.
7. What constitutes significant care requirements?
To indicate significant care a child would generally require continuous and intensive personal care and attention from the carer, in their own home or in hospital, for a minimum period of 2 months after the catastrophic event. There is no maximum time frame. As a guide the care would generally be provided for a significant period every day, that is, the equivalent of a full working day. The care required for the child would generally go beyond that required for a child of a similar age not suffering from a disability, medical condition or illness.
8. Are there specific medical criteria?
No. Every application for CAP is considered on a case-by-case basis. The diagnosis of a specific, disability or medical condition, including congenital conditions, will not automatically preclude or guarantee eligibility for CAP.
9. Must I apply for Carer Payment (child) to be eligible for CAP?
You must test your eligibility for income support payments if you are not already in receipt of an income support payment (see question 10).
If you are eligible for an income support payment you are not eligible for CAP. This is because customers receiving income support payments are considered to need, and already have access to, ongoing financial assistance and other benefits, such as a concession card.
If your declared income and/or assets (carer and partner) is/are clearly above the prescribed income support payment limits, then for the purposes of CAP, you will be considered to meet the criterion that you are ineligible for any other income support payment.
10. Can I be in receipt of another income support payment?
To be eligible for CAP, neither the claimant nor their partner can be receiving an income support payment during the whole adjustment period, which is 12 months from the date of event.
If the claimant or their partner is eligible for, and receiving an income support payment such as Carer Payment, Parenting Payment, Disability Support Pension, Age Pension, and Newstart Allowance, note – this list is not exhaustive, they already have access to ongoing financial assistance and other benefits, such as a concession card.
Income support payment is defined under section 23(1) of the Social Security Act 1991 and means a payment of:
- a) A social security benefit, or
- b) A job search allowance, or
- c) A social security pension, or
- d) A youth training allowance, or
- e) A service pension, or
- f) Income support supplement, or
- g) Exceptional Circumstances Payments (ie drought assistance).
Information on income support payments administered by Centrelink is available through “A Guide to Australian Government Payments” link on the Centrelink website.
Income support also includes payments by Department of Veterans Affairs (which can be paid 5 years earlier than the age pension). These include:
- Age Service Pension
- Service Pension, similar to Age Pension and Disability Support Pension paid by Centrelink,
- Partner Service Pension, and
- Income support supplement paid to eligible war widows/widowers.
If during the adjustment period there were periods where the claimant and/or their partner were not receiving income support payments they may be eligible for CAP.
11. What is meant by very strong financial need?
A requirement of CAP is that you are able to demonstrate a very strong need for financial support during the adjustment period after the catastrophic event. Generally this would mean that the change in your caring requirements following the catastrophe has significantly diminished or exhausted your available funds and you have no alternative means of meeting financial commitments.
Families will need to present their case by setting out their circumstances and the ways in which the family needs extra support in response to a catastrophic event and that they are undergoing a significant adjustment during the adjustment period.
This may include disruptions to things like your capacity to work and/or care arrangements for your child or other children and/or the caring costs associated with medical treatments and interventions.
12. Can I claim if I share care of the child?
As long as you are receiving Carer Allowance for the child concerned you can still claim for CAP.
13. Are there any other restrictions I should know?
Where a person is qualified for a Carer Allowance Health Care Card, but are not qualified for the Carer Allowance payment, they are not eligible for CAP.
Standard residency requirements also apply to CAP. CAP is only payable to permanent residents of Australia. CAP claims must be lodged in Australia.
14. How do I apply?
You can obtain a CAP claim form by phoning Centrelink on 13 2717, by downloading a form from the Centrelink website or from your local Centrelink Office. Completed claim forms can be lodged at your local Centrelink office, or mailed to the address on the claim form.
The claim form needs to be completed by the carer who is in receipt of Carer Allowance for the child concerned.
15. How long will my claim take to process?
If you provide all the necessary information when you lodge the claim, you should receive a response from Centrelink within 12 weeks of lodging.
16. Who will make the decision?
All eligible applications will be considered by a Department of Social Services (DSS) assessor. The DSS assessor will provide a recommendation to a senior officer in DSS. The recommendation will be considered and a final determination made by a DSS senior officer.
17. How much can I get from CAP?
CAP is a one-off non taxable payment available to families in exceptional circumstances. The amount payable depends on the family’s individual circumstances. The amount available to any family is up to $10,000 for each child in a single catastrophic event.
18. Can I request a review of the decision?
A claimant can have the decision for their CAP application reviewed. A request for review should be provided to Centrelink in writing within 13 weeks of the date of the original decision. A written request provides a claimant with an opportunity to clearly outline the reasons why they believe the decision to be incorrect and also to provide any further information and supporting documentation to be considered.
Please note: the DSS does not have the authority to overturn decisions where Government eligibility for CAP is not met, such as age of child, customers claiming who are already receiving income support, etc.
19. Can I retest my eligibility at a later date?
Where a claim has been unsuccessful and there have been changes in circumstances, i.e. another catastrophic event resulting in a new adjustment period, a claimant can retest their eligibility.