What Is Centrelink In Australia? - A Complete Guide

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People want to know what Centrelink in Australia is and what financial assistance it offers.


Centrelink is an Australian government service that supports Aussies needing financial assistance.


The service provides various benefits to people from all walks of life, such as older people, people with disabilities, job seekers, students, families, and indigenous Australians, to name a few.


Keep reading to know more about Centrelink, what it is, its payment type, the qualifying criteria, the online estimator tool, the claim process, and more.



1. What Is Centrelink?


Centrelink is a statutory authority run by the Services Australia department in Australia.


It began as a Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency in early 1997. After the passage of the Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency Act 1997, the agency's name changed to "Centrelink" in late 1997.


Centrelink regulates the payment of income support and other payments for people at times of significant change.



2. What Is The Purpose Of Centrelink Australia?


Centrelink works in every State and Territory of Australia to deliver social security payments and services to people.



3. What Are The Benefits Of Centrelink?


Centrelink payments deliver a range of allowances, pensions, and benefits to eligible people in specific conditions, such as:


  • Older Australians

  • Retirees 

  • Unemployed

  • Students and trainees

  • Apprentices 

  • Families

  • Carers

  • Parents

  • People with disabilities

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

  • Visitors, refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers who live in Australia

  • People from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.



So, what services does Centrelink offer? The most common types of Centrelink payments include:


  • Newstart is a payment for jobless people looking out for a job.


  • Youth Allowance is a payment for full-time students, trainees, and Australian apprentices between 16 and 24 years of age, job seekers, or those who are unwell.


  • Austudy is a payment for full-time students and Australian apprentices who are 25 years and more.


  • ABSTUDY is a living allowance payment and various additional benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and apprentices.


  • Tertiary Access Payment is a payment to help eligible students moving from remote and regional locations pursue senior-level tertiary studies.


  • Disability Support Pension is a pension for people with physical, intellectual, or mental disabilities or permanent blindness that stops them from working.


  • Rent Assistance is a payment to help people with low-income pay rent.


  • Age Pension is a pension for senior Australian citizens above retirement age.


  • Double Orphan Pension is a regular payment to people caring for a child whose parents have died or can't care for them.


  • Mobility Allowance is a payment to help disabled, ill, or injured people who can't use public transport for study, work, or job search.


  • Disabled Australian Apprentice Wage Support Program offers payment to help employers of eligible Australian Apprentices with disabilities.


  • Child Care Subsidy is a payment to help parents manage childcare costs.


  • Cost of Living Payment is a one-time payment of $250 to help people with the cost of living.


  • Language, Numeracy, and Literacy Supplement is an additional payment once every fortnight to support people who are enhancing their skills in the Skills for Education and Employment program.


  • Status Resolution, Support Services payment is a regular payment to help students manage standard living costs while they wait for their immigration status.


  • Family Tax Benefit is a payment to help families with the cost of raising their children.


  • Parenting Allowance is the principal income support payment you can get while you are the primary carer of a young child, either as a single parent or a stay-at-home mother.


  • Health Care Card - If you qualify for Youth Allowance, you can get a health card. It enables you to buy prescription medication economically and pay less or nothing when visiting your doctor. You also get concessions on water or electricity bills, public transport, cinema, etc.


  • Medicare – If you are 15 or above, you can also get a Medicare Card.


  • Sports Rebate - Families can take advantage of Centrelink family payments through a sports voucher. They can use it for their child to pay registered activity providers towards the sports membership, registration, or participation fees.



4. Who Is Eligible For Centrelink In Australia?


The eligibility conditions vary based on the type of payments you apply for. Check the below links to know whether you qualify for the desired payment type.   




5. How Much Money Can You Earn While On Centrelink?


Many people ask whether Centrelink gives money. Yes. If you fall in any of their payment categories and meet the eligibility criteria, then Centrelink pays you money.


You can use the Online estimator tool to estimate or compare Centrelink payments you may get based on your personal and family circumstances.


You need to answer a few questions about your family and choose the type of Centrelink family payments you want to claim, and the calculator will determine what you are entitled to receive.



6. How To Apply For Centre Link? 


To take advantage of the diverse Centrelink payments, you must have your online Centrelink account. It will help you manage your details and claim your payments online.


To create and use an online Centrelink account, you must set up a myGov account. Here is how to create a myGov account on the myGov website.


After you create a myGov account, use myGovID to log in to the myGov website and link Centrelink to your myGov account. Once linked, you can access an array of Centrelink services from your account.



7. How To Update Your Details On Centrelink Online?


Using your Centrelink online account, you can view, update or add the following information:


  • Personal details

  • Family and child care details

  • Carer details

  • Income and Employment details 


You can use any of the below ways to view and update the above details:


  • Your Centrelink online account through myGov

  • The Express Plus Centrelink mobile app



8. What Centrelink Payments Can You Claim Online?


You can access Centrelink online account through myGov to claim most payments online.


Below we have mentioned the payment categories and the type of payment you can claim under each category:



Older Australians


  • Age Pension

  • Home Equity Access Scheme

  • Transfer to Age Pension



Job Seekers


  • JobSeeker Payment

  • Youth Allowance





  • Carer Payment

  • Carer Allowance





  • Child Care Subsidy

  • Dad and Partner Pay

  • Stillborn Baby Payment

  • Parental Leave Pay

  • Family Tax Benefit

  • Parenting Payment

  • Single Income Family Supplement



People With Disability


  • Mobility Allowance

  • Essential Medical Equipment

  • JobSeeker Payment

  • Disability Support Pension



Rural and Remote Australians


You can claim Farm Household Allowance.



Students and Trainees


  • Youth Allowance

  • ABSTUDY Incidentals Allowance

  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance

  • Austudy

  • Pensioner Education Supplement



Concession and Health Care Cards


  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card

  • Foster Child Health Care Card

  • Ex-Carer Allowance (Child) Health Care Card

  • Low-Income Health Care Card



9. How Do You Claim A Centrelink Benefit?


With the online Centrelink Account, you can easily make a claim online without visiting their website or calling their customer care.


Follow the steps to make a claim online:



Step 1: Log in to myGov and choose Centrelink.


Step 2: Choose Menu from the homepage, click Payments and Claims and Make a Claim.


Step 3: On the My Claims page, choose to Make a Claim. On this page, you can also perform other claim-related actions, such as:


  • Continue Claim

  • Cancel Claim

  • View Claim

  • Withdraw Claim


Choose the category that suits your circumstances and click "Get Started."


Step 4: Check your Eligibility by answering a few pre-claim questions related to:


  • Personal details

  • Circumstances

  • Financial details


Step 5: Once you qualify to make a claim, begin your claim and answer questions related to the claim. The steps required to make a claim differ based on your chosen payment category. In each section, save your answers and proceed to the next section.


Step 6: Review and confirm your claim


Step 7: Before you submit the claim, you will have to complete some additional tasks. Besides each task, you will see "Required" or "Supplementary." 


Some of the required tasks include:


  • Upload the necessary documents digitally (using Centrelink online account or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app).

  • Confirm your Identity


You must do all the required tasks before you can submit the claim. Once you complete the task, the status changes from "Required" -> "Done."  


  • After completing all required tasks, click on submit a claim. Choose "Book to make an Appointment." Choose the appointment date, time, and contact number and confirm the Appointment. Click Next, and Submit the Claim.


  • On successful claim submission, you will get an estimated date for processing the claim. Note your Claim Id for further use. You can also view the claim and check its progress using your online account.  


To continue receiving payments, you must inform about changes to your living situation, work, and relationship to get the right amount. You can use any of the below self-service options to tell them about any change:


  • Centrelink online account through myGov

  • Centrelink phone self-service

  • the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app


For more details on the procedure to claim a payment online, click here.



10. How To Manage Your Centrelink Appointments Online?


You can reschedule your appointments online using any of the below methods:



Centrelink Online Account Through MyGov


  • Sign in to myGov and choose Centrelink.

  • Select MENU from your homepage.

  • Select Documents and appointments -> Appointments and Manage appointments.

  • Select View details -> Reschedule Appointment to modify your Appointment.



Using The Express Plus Centrelink Mobile App


  • Use your myGov PIN to sign in to the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.

  • Choose Appointment from the home screen.

  • Choose to Reschedule an Appointment to modify your Appointment.

  • You will see your appointment details on the home screen. Choose Appointment, then Add to the calendar to add/ update your Appointment in the device's calendar.


Though you can manage most of your appointments online, you need to call the Centrelink payment support line to manage some appointments.



11. Can The Government See Your Bank Account?


Yes. The government has the authority to look at individual Australian personal bank accounts.


Government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office, the Internal Revenue Service, etc., are endowed with legal authority allowing access to your personal bank information and statements, including Centrelink benefits.


Due to these capabilities, these agencies can get your Australian bank statements directly from your financial institution.



12. How Does Centrelink Check Your Income?


Centrelink has the authority to request details of your bank accounts. As a part of the service agreement you sign while applying for benefits, they have permission to find out what lies in your bank account.


It receives an individual's financial information encrypted and sends it to a specialized staff for review. Such a process helps it identify and examine any cases of welfare fraud.


So, does Centrelink look at your bank account? Yes. It can access your income, bank balance, investments, and assets details and use it to determine your Eligibility for income assistance and at which rate it should pay you.



13. Can You Get Centrelink If You Quit Your Job?


If you end your current job, Centrelink may categorize you as 'voluntarily unemployed.' In this case, you may have to wait eight weeks before receiving payments.


However, you don't need to wait until Centrelink decides the work was unsuitable or the circumstances were reasonable to quit the job.


Some of these scenarios could be:


  • The staff bullied you

  • Your employer violated a workplace safety law

  • You earned lower than the industry average

  • Your circumstances couldn't allow you to continue the job


However, if you are assigned an 8-week waiting period, you have the right to seek further advice and appeal Centrelink's decision. Visit the Centrelink Contact page to know more about contacting them for any queries.



14. What If You Can't Afford To Stay Unpaid During The Waiting Period?


Centrelink can end your waiting period sooner if staying unpaid would cause you acute financial hardship and you have:


  • A dependent child

  • Caring responsibilities

  • An illness

  • A disability needing treatment that you can't afford after paying living essential costs

  • A recognized mental illness

  • A neurological or cognitive damage 

  • You are homeless or at risk of homelessness 

  • No access to secure and proper housing



15. What Happens If Centrelink Say They've Overpaid Me?


If Centrelink overpays you, it can't take out the funds directly from your bank account but can exercise specific means to recoup excess payments. These include:


  • They will send you an official letter outlining the amount you owe them along with the reason, the due date, and the ways to make the payment.

  • On failing to begin repaying the debt, Centrelink can lower your benefit payment by 15% or more if you earn income besides your benefit payment.

  • Centrelink may even order a debt collection agency to recover your debt.

  • They can also file a legal action and claim your earnings, income, assets, and tax return – including your bank balance.



16. How Many Hours Can You Work And Still Get Centrelink?


It depends on your earnings than the days worked. Regardless of the number of hours you work in a fortnight, if you earn less than the employment income threshold, you will receive at least a portion of your Centrelink payment.


Check this link to learn more about the employment income threshold.



17. Tips To Deal With Centrelink


The following tips will help you satisfy the various necessities of Centrelink and stay patient, compliant, and hopefully with payment:



Tip 1: Record all dealings with Centrelink and keep it updated.


Tip 2: Prefer to seek assistance via phone as it helps you get the correct security settings to make a claim. Telephonic assistance enables Centrelink to log your call and initiate its record of dealings with you.


They will log the date of the first call as the official application date, and your waiting period for benefits will commence from that date. Remember to take the receipt number from the call centre operator.


Tip 3: Always have a valid proof of your identities, such as a tax file number, a driver's license, an ATM card, and a passport, before applying for a Centrelink account.


Tip 4: Please supply the correct information regarding your circumstances, income, employment status, or relationship, as it can result in an overpayment and a debt repayment demand.


Tip 5: Find the right Centrelink Call Centre number to avoid getting through to an operator. If it is for youth allowance, call 132490. Ask for a primary contact staff member and get their email address and direct telephone number for prompt query resolution.


Tip 6: Have your Customer Access Number ready, as you need it for identity verification each time you call the support team to assist you.


Tip 7: Waiting on hold forever, multiple appointments, and constant application changes make Centrelink a tricky department to deal with. Having a financial adviser specializing in Centrelink advice can be beneficial to handle the issues on your behalf.



18. Conclusion


Centrelink is one of the best Australian support systems you can rely on when undergoing a financial crisis.


Ensure you honestly disclose your personal and financial details to continue benefitting from its regular payments.


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