For single mothers receiving Centrelink payments, returning to paid employment can mean the amount they receive is cut or eliminated altogether. Many single mothers make the decision on how many hours to work in paid employment based on how much of their Centrelink payment they will lose.
It’s a balancing act, so to make your decisions about the type of employment you want and the amount of hours you wish to work easier, here’s some information about how much you can earn before your payments start to get cut, and how much they will decrease.
The circumstances of every single mother is different, so please use this as a guide only, and contact Centrelink for details specific to your individual situation.
If you receive Parenting Payment Single
In order to receive the Parenting Payment, you must meet the income and assets tests. The amount you get depends on your income, assets, and residence rules.
Centrelink uses your fortnightly income to work out your payment.
If you return to work, and you receive the Parenting Payment Single you must report your income. If you don’t, you may be overpaid, and could wind up accumulating a debt.
Single mothers can earn an income up to a certain amount before their payments are reduced.
The income you can earn before your payments begin to reduce depends on how many children you have.
Your payment will reduce by 40 cents for every dollar of income you have over the income amount listed in this table. Payments change every quarter.
|Number of children||Income per fortnight before your payment starts to reduce|
|More than 3||$251.80 plus $24.60 for each extra child.|
Find out more information about Parenting Payment cutoffs here.
If you receive JobSeeker
If you are currently receiving JobSeeker payments and begin paid work, your income can reduce how much you receive.
If you are on JobSeeker and return to work you must report your income to Centrelink. If you don’t, you may be overpaid, and could wind up accumulating a debt.
These are the income rules if you’re single and a principal carer of at least one dependent child younger than 16.
|Your income per fortnight||Amount your payment reduces|
|Up to $150||$0|
|Over $150||40 cents for each dollar over $150, if you are single and principal carer (i.e. youngest child under 16), 50 cents for each dollar between $150 and $256 then 60 cents for each dollar over $256 for those who are single and not a principal carer of a dependent child younger than 16.|
If your income in a fortnight goes over specific cut-off points, you won’t receive a payment you for that fortnight. NIL rate may apply.
Be aware that your cut-off point may be higher if you get the Pharmaceutical Allowance or Rent Assistance.
Cut-off points per fortnight if you’re a single mother:
|Your situation||The income cut off point|
|Single, principal carer of a dependent child younger than 16.||$1,985.75|
|Single, principal carer of a dependent child younger than 16, no mutual obligation requirements.||$2,484.00|
|Single, with a dependent child younger than 16, but not the principal carer.||$1,381.17|
Find out more information about income cut off points for JobSeeker here.
The nil payment period
A nil payment period starts when you report employment income over a certain amount, and it reduces your income support payment to $0. This includes your partner’s employment income.
Usually, a nil payment period can be up to six fortnights in a row. After six fortnights in a row, if your employment income is still too high, your payment will be cancelled.
If Centrelink pay you at least $1 before the end of the six fortnights, they won’t cancel your payment.
Note: these details are correct at the time of writing but may be changed by Services Australia at any time. Keep up-to-date with changes here.
Considering returning to paid employment?
Bloom is CSMC’s FREE 10 week careers and employment guidance program for single mums to help grow your confidence, career ideas, study or employment pathway.
Whatever job it is you want, and whatever road you are on, the Bloom program can help guide you. Our experienced facilitator has lived experience of being a single mothers and will provide professional guidance and support. If you have just one hour a fortnight and one morning a month, we can help.
For more information, call Erika on 0423 189 340 or email Erika at firstname.lastname@example.org.