Life can change quickly. Sometimes, a shift in your circumstances means your Centrelink payment needs to be adjusted. Failing to contact the agency to update your information can lead to overpayments and, if that occurs, you could owe a debt to the government. To avoid a Centrelink debt, here are some of the changes that need to be reported as soon as they occur.
Change in Relationship Status
If you become partnered or separated while receiving Centrelink payments, you need to inform the agency immediately. Many benefits are calculated based on the size of your family, and becoming partnered or separated changes the number of members of your household.
If you get married, register a relationship, or are deemed to be in a de facto relationship, your benefit amount may need to be adjusted. Similarly, if you separate or divorce, your Centrelink payment amount may change. In some cases, a change in relationship status means you are entitled to a larger payment, so failing to update the agency means you are missing out on some money. However, overpayments are also possible if your Centrelink payment should be adjusted downward, and you could be generating a debt.
You also need to report if you are single and begin residing with an individual who is aged 16 or older and is not a member of your family, as this could affect your benefit payment.
Change in Work Status
Benefit calculations also take into consideration your current work-based income. If you begin working at a new job, you need to report this change to the agency. Similarly, if you were employed, but aren’t any longer, this update should be communicated as well.
You also need to contact Centrelink whenever there is a change if your income, even if you are with the same employer. For example, a significant cut in hours resulting in a smaller paycheck should be reported as well as if your income goes up because of additional hours or a pay raise.
Care Arrangement Changes
If you are caring for a child or an adult with a health condition, and the circumstances surrounding this care change, you need to contact Centrelink. For example, if you place your child in child care or if they begin residing with someone else, your information needs to be updated. Similarly, if you start providing more care for a child or an adult with a health condition, this information should be relayed as well.
Caring for a child or a person with a medical condition may affect your eligibility for certain benefits. If you are being overpaid, you will begin accruing a debt to the government. However, if you are now considered underpaid, additional assistance may be available.
There are a variety of other situations that could change your benefit payment including receiving a lump sum, acquiring or releasing assets, starting or finishing studying, or leaving the country on a temporary or permanent basis.
For more information about what needs to be reported, refer to the Centrelink site for specifics based on the payments you receive. That way, you can make changes as required and avoid owing a debt for overpayments.