Centrelink for twins and multiples explained

Centrelink and twins

Author:  Vanessa Cartledge

As a multi mum, I fully understand that Centrelink for twins and multiples can often seem complicated and overwhelming. So I thought I would share my knowledge to help other multi-parents navigate Centrelink’s system. As multi-parents, there are payments that we may be entitled too, but the Centrelink website can be confusing. If you know what you’re entitled to and how to apply, it makes everything easier and much less stressful. Please note that I do not work for Centrelink, and I am just sharing this information as a guide only.  Please check all information for yourself.

Centrelink for twins and multiples explained.

I have written three sections:

  1. When you are pregnant, or have newborn babies [Families Payments]
  2. When you have children in childcare or outside hours school care (OHSC) [Childcare Subsidy (CCS)]
  3. Applying for Centrelink payments [My Gov website]

 

1) When you are pregnant, or have newborn babies [Families Payments]

Your family may entitled to one, some or all of the following Families Payments:

  1. Multiple Birth Allowance – Triplets and quadruplets only – not twins. Bizarrely, the Australian Government does not consider twins to be multiple births for the purpose of their Multiple Birth Allowance.
  2. Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement – Newborn Upfront Payment is universal, but the Newborn Supplement his income tested.
  3. Paid Parental Leave (PPL) – If you meet the work test.
  4. Dad and Partner Pay – A separate one off payment for the working parent who does not claim Paid Parental Leave.
  5. Family Tax Benefit A (FTB A) – Income tested ongoing fortnightly payments or a one-off end of financial year payment (plus an end of financial year supplement) to assist with parenting costs.
  6. Family Tax Benefit B (FTB B) – Additional income tested ongoing fortnightly payments or a one-off end of financial year payment (plus an end of financial year supplement) to assist with parenting costs.

 The following information regarding each of these Families Payments is copied from the Centrelink website.  Please click on the various links to ensure you have the most up to date information.

 

Multiple Birth Allowance

(Click HERE and scroll down to ‘Other Payments’ to be taken to the website which may have more up to date information)

If you have care of triplets or quadruplets, you may be eligible for Multiple Birth Allowance. We’ll pay you $158.06 a fortnight for triplets or $210.56 a fortnight for quadruplets or more. We’ll automatically assess you for this, you don’t need to submit a separate claim  centrelink for triplets

Multiple children

(Click HERE to be taken to the website which may have more up to date information)

 If you have a multiple birth, including twins, you may receive the following for each child:

  • Newborn Upfront Payment, as a lump sum of $550, and
  • Newborn Supplement, at a maximum rate of $1,649.83 even if you already have other children

If you’re also eligible for Parental Leave Pay, you can receive Parental Leave Pay for one child and Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement for other children.

 

Newborn Upfront Payment

(Click HERE to be taken to the website which may have more up to date information)

 This is a lump sum payment of $550 per child. It’s not taxable.

  

Newborn Supplement

(Click HERE to be taken to the website which may have more up to date information)

 This is an ongoing payment for up to 13 weeks. It’s not taxable.

If you’re eligible for the base rate or more of FTB Part A, you’ll receive the maximum rate of Newborn Supplement. If you’re eligible for less than the base rate of FTB Part A, you’ll receive a reduced rate of Newborn Supplement.

centrelink and twins

Paid Parental Leave (PPL)

(Click HERE to be taken to the website which may have more up to date information)

 A short term payment while you’re on leave from work to care for your new child.

 Eligibility basics

  • be the primary carer of a newborn or newly adopted child
  • individually earned less than $150,000 in the last financial year
  • be on leave or not working whilst receiving Parental Leave Pay
  • have done enough work in the 13 months before to meet the work test

 How much can you receive

(Click HERE to be taken to the website which may have more up to date information)

  • Parental Leave Pay is currently $719.35 per week before tax. This is based on the weekly rate of the national minimum wage.
  • You can receive Parental Leave Pay for up to 18 weeks. We can pay it directly or your employer can pay it to you.
  • Your partner may also be eligible for Dad and Partner Pay for up to 2 weeks. This means your family can receive a total of up to 20 weeks pay.
  • As an individual, if you’re eligible to receive Parental Leave Pay as well as Dad and Partner Pay for the same child, the total you receive from both payments can’t be more than 18 weeks pay.
  • When you’ll start receiving your payment depends on when you complete your claim. Read more about the payment start date.

Family Tax Benefit A and Family Tax Benefit B

Eligibility for these payments is more complicated.  Please refer to this Centrelink link for detailed information and to assess your eligibility.

(Click HERE to be taken to the website)

 

 

2) When you have children in childcare or outside hours school care (OHSC) [Childcare Subsidy (CCS)]

If you have children attending childcare or outside hours school care (OHSC), you may be entitled to receive childcare subsidy (CCS).

CCS is a new payment that came into effect on 2 July 2018, replacing the old Childcare Rebate (CCR) and Childcare Benefit (CCB).

You are eligible to claim CCS if your combined family income is below $351,248. If your family earns $186,958 or less, you won’t have an annual cap on your subsidy.

CCS is calculated as a percentage from a minimum of 20% (over $341.248) up to a maximum of 85% (family income of $66,958 and below).

This percentage is applied to daily or hourly childcare or OHSC fees up to a maximum of 100 subsidised hours per fortnight per child.

The activity level of you and your partner (if applicable) determines how much CCS you can receive. Below is a handy table from the Centrelink website. Please note the number of hours of CCS you can access per fortnight applies to each child.

If you do recognised activities each fortnight forWe’ll subsidise your child care each fortnight for
Less than 8 hours0 hours
8 to 16 hours36 hours
More than 16 to 48 hours72 hours
More than 48 hours100 hours

More information regarding activity level can be found HERE.

Recognised activities include paid work, training and volunteering, and if you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer, why not volunteer with your local Multiple Birth Association? It’s a great way to utilise or increase your skill set and meet other families.

centrelink for twins at school

Child Care Subsidy

 (Click HERE to be taken to the website which may have more up to date information)

 Eligibility basics

  • care for a child 13 or younger and not attending secondary school, unless an exemption applies
  • use an approved child care service
  • responsible for paying the child care fees
  • meet residency and immunisation requirements

3) Applying for Centrelink payments [My Gov website]

Applications can be made online using the My Gov website (https://my.gov.au)

If you have not used My Gov before, you will need to create a My Gov account and link it to your Centrelink online account. If you do not have a My Gov and/or Centrelink account, you may need to go into a My Gov or Centrelink office to set up online access.

Unless you need help with online access, going into a Centrelink office to talk about Families (or CCS) payments is usually a waste of time. Many Centrelink staff do not have sufficient knowledge of Families payments. Therefore, if you go into a Centrelink office with an enquiry, they will generally tell you to phone the Families phone line using one of their telephones, or do your own research on the Centrelink website using one of their computers. So it’s best to apply online in the comfort of your own home. I would also recommend completing your application on a computer.  That way you can print a copy of your application for your records.

To make any Centrelink application

Log onto the My Gov website, click on the Centrelink link, and go to the Families section. You answer a series of questions and Centrelink will automatically assess your entitlement to various payments depending on your personal circumstances and estimated taxable income for the financial year.

Applying for the Childcare Subsidy (CCS)

You can apply online as soon as your child has been registered at your nominated childcare centre. I do not think you can apply for CCS until your nominated childcare centre has registered you at their end. Once they have registered you, the centre details will be added to your Centrelink account and you can complete your application for CCS.

If you are pregnant with twins (or more), you can apply to Centrelink up to three months before your due date.

As twins are generally born no later than around 37 weeks, I highly recommend applying online as soon as you can.  This will help your claim to be assessed early and then payments can be made as soon as possible after the birth. As you complete the application process, your answers to the questions will automatically determine which payments you are entitled to.

centrelink for twins

Please note – There is a question asking if it will be a multiple birth. If you have twins, you must say no. This is because, bizarrely, the Australian Government does not consider twins to be multiple births for the purpose of their Multiple Birth Allowance. This allowance is only applicable to triplets and quadruplets.

It may take a few days or a few weeks for you to receive an online letter from Centrelink confirming which Families payments you are entitled too, and how much the payments will be.

As well as the My Gov website, Centrelink also have a very useful Centrelink Express Plus App that you can download on your phone.

You can access information such as letters and payments, update personal details, and perform tasks such as change your estimated income for the financial year or apply for an advance of Family Tax Benefits.

If you have applied for Families payments while pregnant, you will need to complete the application process after the birth by providing evidence of birth.

Your midwife will give you a proof of birth form at the hospital that they will sign.  This form must be provided to Centrelink in order to complete the application process. An easy way to do this is to take a photo of the form on your phone. You can then upload it through the Centrelink Express Plus App to finalise your claim.

Once your claim has been processed, you will receive an online Centrelink letter advising of the payment date(s) and amount(s). Centrelink and Medicare are directly linked, so you do not need to do a separate Medicare claim. Instead, a new Medicare card will be automatically issued and posted to you.

When you get home with your newborns

When you get home with your newborns, after around a week or so, I highly recommend calling the Families phone line (136 150) to ensure your claim is processed correctly. Many multi-parents have encountered problems with getting both twins registered with Centrelink and Medicare. This is because the application process does not make it clear that there are twins, probably because we are forced to answer “no” to the Multiple Births question! There is an option to enter details for more than one baby during the application process.  However it appears that many Centrelink workers still miss out the second twin entirely.

My personal financial circumstances meant that I really needed my Centrelink payments to begin as soon as possible. Therefore, after around a week at home with my twins, I called the Families phone line and asked that my claim be processed while I was on the phone because of financial hardship. If you say you’re in financial hardship, they might be able to process your claim immediately

Call first thing in the morning if you can. I was told that my claim was only able to be processed immediately because it was early and they weren’t busy! I talked to three different Centrelink staff members and reminded each of them that this was a twins application. Each of the staff thanked me for pointing this out, as it wasn’t clear on the application and they would have missed it (!) I made sure that both twins were correctly registered for Centrelink payments and Medicare, and also that their names were spelt correctly (multi-parents have had issues with this too!)

One final tip

If you ever have any issues getting through on the Families phone line (136 150), or you are not happy with the service you have received, you can call the Complaints phone line (1800 132 468). Staff on this phone number can be more knowledgeable and better able to assist you or transfer you to someone who can.

 

 

Twinfo would like to thank Vanessa for sharing her experience as a multi mum navigating Centrelink for twins and multiples.  Please always refer to Centrelink regarding your individual circumstances.

 

Twinfo

 

Twinfo provides a connection to resources, information, products and service providers who specialise in supporting multiple births at every stage of their life.

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