With the end of the year approaching fast, it’s time to take a look a some of the changes you can expect in the New Year with regard to certain Government benefits and services.
January 1, 2013
The SchoolKids Bonus replaces the Education Tax Refund. Around a million families will receive a cash handout of $820 for every high school child and $410 for every primary school child as part of the new bonus. The direct, upfront payments require no paperwork.
Tightening Eligibility for FTB
The Government will limit eligibility for Family Tax Benefit Part A to young people under 18 years of age or, where a young person remains in secondary school, the end of the calendar year in which they turn 19. Individuals who no longer qualify for FTB Part A may be eligible to receive Youth Allowance.
Parenting Payment Changes
All unemployed single parents will lose the Parenting Payment when their youngest child turns eight. For unemployed partnered parents, the payment will stop when their youngest child turns six. Although the cut-offs were introduced in 2006, it did not apply to parents who were already receiving the support payment. Now, it will apply across the board and force these parents on to the Newstart Allowance while they seek employment. Also, recipients of the Parenting Payment will have compulsory part-time participation requirements when their youngest child turns six.
Income Test Changes
There will be a more generous income test for single principal carer parents on Newstart Allowance that will allow them to earn around $400 more per fortnight before ceasing eligibility for payment.
Less time overseas
Individuals can travel overseas and continue to receive income support payments such as the Parenting Payment, Austudy, Rent Assistance and Family Tax Benefit Part A and B – among others – for only six weeks as opposed to 13 weeks.
Dad and Partner Pay
The Dad and Partner pay will be available to eligible working fathers and partners who:
- care for a child born or adopted from January 1, 2013
- work full-time, part-time or are casual, seasonal, contract or self-employed workers
- have worked at least 330 hours – just over a day a week – in 10 of the 13 months before the birth of their baby with no more than an eight week gap between two consecutive working days
- earned $150,000 or less in the previous financial year, and
- fulfil the Australian residency test.
Visa Charges Going Up
The government will increase a number of visa application charges for skilled graduates, partners, working holiday makers and temporary overseas workers.
Restricted Telehealth Services
The government will restrict telehealth services to those patients for whom distance is the most significant barrier to accessing specialist care, meaning the eligibility criteria for the Medicare Benefits Schedule will be amended to exclude patients in outer metropolitan areas and major cities of Australia.
March 1, 2013
New Supplement Payment
Recipients of eligible income support payments will benefit from the introduction of a new lump sum Supplementary Allowance. The means-tested, tax-free, indexed payments will be an additional $210 a year for singles and $350 a year for couples – paid in two instalments in March and September.
July 1, 2013
Baby Bonus Changes
The Baby Bonus payment for second and subsequent children will be cut from $5,000 to $3,000.
FTB Maximum Rate to Increase
The maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A will increase by $300 a year for families with one child and $600 per year with families with two or more children. The base rate of the Family Tax Benefit will increase by $100 per year for families with one child and $200 per year for families with two or more children.
Newly unemployed Australians and students will no longer have to wait 13 weeks to access income support if they have liquid assets of up to $5,000 for singles without children and $10,000 for all others.