Family assistance changes

Maree O’Halloran
Welfare Rights Centre

The Baby Bonus ceased on March 1 and has been replaced with a Family Tax Benefit Part A loading payment.

The rate is $2000 for the first child and $1000 for subsequent children, paid as an initial instalment of $500 with the remainder paid as fortnightly Family Tax Benefit.

The time limit to lodge a past period Family Assistance claim has been reduced from two years to one year. Families have until June 30, 2014 to claim payments for the 2012/2013 entitlement year.

A new provision allows for an extension of what was previously a strict time limit in special circumstances. The extension is, however, only possible to the end of the second income year after the income year to which the claim relates.

Time limits for a number of other related family assistance requirements (for example, immunisation requirements, tax return lodgement and so on) have also changed from two years to one year.

Since January 1, parents losing eligibility for Parenting Payment (single) once their youngest turns eight are able to retain their Pensioner Concession Card for 12 weeks. This provision is for those parents who are not eligible for Newstart Allowance when they lose the Parenting Payment (single).

The Pensioner Education Supplement is now available to single parents on Newstart Allowance.

From March 20 the income-free threshold for Newstart (unemployment benefit) will increase from $62 per fortnight to $100 per fortnight. The threshold is to be indexed every July in accordance with changes to the Consumer Price Index.