Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Carers Adjustment Payment- my tips


After receiving our second payment on Monday I have been asked by many people to share any tips and tricks to receiving this payment. A one-off payment up to $10,000.
This is the one I talked about last year and our life changer. When I couldn't pay for medication this payment came in.
So here we go, the ins and outs:

The Carers Adjustment Payment is designed as:
A one-off payment helping families with increased costs following a sudden accident, illness or disability involving a child aged under seven years.

  • car accident
  • childhood stroke
  • diagnosis of a serious or severe illness such as childhood cancer
  • fall
  • fire
  • poisoning
  • near drowning
  • another type of accident
From the Centrelink website.

First and most important thing- you must be claiming Carers Allowance to be eligible for this. Hence the name. The payment is not just for children with disabilities it covers accidents and illness. The payment is designed to assist with the extra costs or financial burdens arising from the incident. This payment isn't means tested but I have heard of families being turned down as they are considered financially stable or not "in need" of the money. It does state on their website "you have a very strong need for financial support immediately after the catastrophic event." So they may consider your current circumstances when processing the application.
Some points to remember before applying:

  1. You qualify for "Carers Allowance"
  2. The child must be aged UNDER seven years
  3. The claim must be lodged within two years of the incident or diagnosis
  4. You should have cared for the child for at least 2 full months afterward (minimum)
  5. You do not qualify for "Carers Payment" means tested...
  6. You need time to fill out the application and it must be lodged in person
First step is to print out the form found here: http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/forms/ss454
The form asks for your personal details and then your financial. So yes they do consider how much you already earn, although how much this plays a part only they know.
They ask for assets and details of your house and mortgage.
Question 27: Has there been a change to your income as a result of this disability or condition?
(shortened version)
This is where the detail comes in. Note it says you can attach extra pages if needed. We answered yes to this. As a result of caring for a child I was unable to work. Due to therapy appointments, increased need for supervision and their reliance on me I was unable to work. Consider facts like these when answering the question. The more detail you give the better they understand.
Question 28: Have you or your partner had to give up work?
In my case the answer was yes. Loss of income is a big factor for them. Tell them why you can't work. Can anyone else care for your child? What restricts you from finding a job? Explain the full time care needs of your child.
Question 33: What type of catastrophic event occurred?
This was the big one. With both of my girls I hand wrote the application and it took several A4 pages to answer. For Miss A it was her diagnosis of cerebral palsy. I explained how we found out, what tests were performed and what Doctors we had to see. For Miss L it was harder as she really only had the diagnosis of Intellectual Disability which didn't explain her health issues. I then went into detail of her hospital stay and what the Doctors had told me.
Question 37: How long will this child have significant care requirements?
This was a tricky one so really look at how your child is. For Miss L we have seen vast improvements but had no knowledge of this when lodging her form. Look at what the Doctors have told you and go with their guidelines. IF they think you will need to be a carer for a few months make sure you give a broad timeframe so you don't look too positive.
Question 39/40: Costs while in hospital?
This is a good one to consider. When Miss L was in hospital Andrew had to take time off work to care for the other children. This is counted as lost hours so put it on the form. Also it asks what costs did you incur. So consider extra petrol, parking, food, baby sitting or day care costs. Anything you had to pay for that you wouldn't if at home.
Question 44: Other expenses that you have occurred.
This asks if you have to had to buy a new car, new equipment pay for medical expenses etc. Make sure you sit down and go through receipt, bank statements and more. IT can be easy to underestimate what you have already paid out.
Question 45: How will the financial assistance help you?
This is the one that took me pages to answer and to me the hardest. I answered in as much detail as possible and I was very specific.
For Miss A: We would like to cover extra therapy as she wasn't receiving enough at the time. Due to her thermal regulatory issues an air conditioner in the home or in her bedroom would vastly improve her physical well being. As our outdoor area isn't shaded we would love to fix that to ensure she is safe while paying outside. For equipment a trampoline, or a stimulatory piece of equipment would be beneficial to her sensory wise and also to improve her core strength and balance. Miss A would really benefit from specialised suits that are made to support her joints but as they cost several hundred of dollars we haven't yet been able to buy one. The extra money would also enable me to invest in future therapy when funding cuts out and when she is at school, to ensure she fits in well in mainstream education.....getting the idea?
For Miss L: We would like to invest in specialised feeding material to ensure she is safe while eating and can eat the right foods. It will help cover the costs of the extra medications she has and the prescription milk she drinks. As she is likely to be in a pram or possibly a wheelchair for longer we would put money aside to enable us to purchase this when it become necessary. Doe to already having a special needs child at home we are limited on time and I would love to see Miss L be given therapy at home instead of travelling to the hospital all the time. Being able to afford private therapy would make a big difference to her. We could also invest in programs such as private swimming lessons to work on her unstable core muscles.

As you write what you want reach for the stars! Enable them to see what would make your childs life better. They have a chance to improve their life and improve yours so go for it! The more detail you provide on not just what you want but why the more they can see the benefits.

Question 51: Is there anything else you would like taken into account, such as disruption to family life, adjustments you have made, you must demonstrate financial need.
For me this just meant giving them more details on how our life has changed. Our family life has changed dramatically. My career has been put on hold which then alters the chances of me getting back into the workforce later. Financially we have had to stop any sporting or after school acitvities for our other child due to not being able to afford it. It affected our ability to send our son to school and we had to consider whether or not we could afford it.
Here you really need to look at life before and after. What can't you afford to do now that used to be an option?

And breathe!
Don't forget this is just my explanation of what I have done for my 2 girls. Each family needs to look at their own circumstances. Talk it over with other people, give yourself time to write it all down. Don't rush into it as you only get one chance.
I certainly hope that by spreading the word that more families get the help they need.

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