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Turning 16 and Disability Support (Financial Assistance)

Last Updated: 26th May 2022

When your child with a disability turns 16 years of age, Centrelink treats them as an adult. Carer’s Allowance (Under 16yrs) payments and the linked Health Care Card in your son or daughter’s name stop. There are other financial support payments available to eligible people with disabilities aged 16 years or over. You (or your child) may need to apply for other disability support payments and additional forms.

Where to start?

BEFORE your child turns 16, start by ensuring that your child has the following:

Before their 16th Birthday, a bank account and TFN can be obtained with fewer identifying documents. A bank debit card in your teen’s name also contributes toward 100pts of ID. After their 16th Birthday, your teen will need to have 100 points of ID in order to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN), bank account, AND for any eligible Centrelink payments. A WA Photo ID Card from the Department of Transport can be applied for after their 16th Birthday. In the application for the Photo ID, it is possible to apply for two cards, one listing home address, and one without. The Photo ID Card can be used in place of a Driver’s Licence.

Please note that it is preferable to have a bank account in your child’s name (if needed, parent/guardian can have authority to operate the bank account through application at the bank, and some banks will also link children’s bank accounts to parent bank accounts for easy access through internet and phone banking) for payments such as Disability Support Pension (if eligible). Payments into a bank account in the name of the person with disability means that they will continue to be able to access their payments if their parent / carer passes away, and the risk (or perceived risk) of financial abuse is reduced.


What financial assistance could my teen be eligible for?

There are a range of payments available from Centrelink and other government agencies that your teen and/or you as a carer may be eligible for. It’s a good idea to tell Centrelink of your intention to claim any Centrelink payment. You can do this by phoning Centrelink on 13 27 17 or visit your nearest Centrelink branch. The payments below are only applicable (if your child meets the eligibility criteria) from the date of their 16th Birthday. You can start the application process prior to their 16th Birthday, as the process can be quite intensive (eligible payments will only apply from the date of your son or daughter’s 16th Birthday).

Once you have notified Centrelink of your intention to claim, you have 2 weeks to submit all completed forms and evidence (diagnostic reports, proof of ID, medical reports etc) in order for approved payments to be back-dated to the date you notified Centrelink of your intention to claim. You are able to take as long as you need to complete the required Centrelink application forms. If documents are submitted after the 2 weeks allocated by Centrelink, payments will be back-dated to the date all completed forms were submitted to Centrelink. It is important to make sure that all forms are completed accurately, so take your time doing this, rather than rushing submit all paperwork within the 2 weeks.

Disability Support Pension

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) provides financial assistance to people over the age of 16yrs who have a physical, intellectual or psycho-social disability (or are permanently blind) that prevents them from working more than 15 hours per week, or be re-trained for work. A medical report from the person’s Doctor is required to apply (the medical report form is available from Centrelink as part of the DSP application package). You will need to book a long appointment with your son or daughter’s GP to complete the medical report, and your son or daughter will need to attend the appointment. Your son or daughter may also need to undergo a Job Capacity Assessment with Centrelink. Not all individuals with a diagnosis of autism are eligible for the Disability Support Pension. To be approved for DSP, your teen would need to meet at least 20 points on one of the 2011 Social Security Impairment Tables.  If they meet 20 points or more on multiple impairment tables, they will need to be engaged with a Disability Employment Service for at least 18 months prior to reapplying for DSP.

Authorising a person or organisation to enquire or act on your child’s behalf

Centrelink can be a complicated system to understand and interact with. Completing the SS313 form Authorising a person or organisation to enquire or act on your behalf gives permission for one person (eg. parent, sibling, carer, advocate) or an organisation to interact with Centrelink on behalf of a person (ie. your son or daughter). The person is still able to interact with Centrelink direct, and can remove the nominee’s permission to. You can attend Centrelink with your son or daughter to submit all application forms including the SS313, and have your son or daughter sign this form with Centrelink staff as witness. Please explain to your son or daughter the purpose of this form before they sign. If you son or daughter is unable to sign this form, please attend Centrelink together to advise them.

Pensioner Education Supplement

If eligible for the Disability Support Pension, your son or daughter may also be eligible for the Pensioner Education Supplement. To be eligible, the applicant must be:

  • studying a secondary (high school) or tertiary (University, TAFE, or eligible private training organisation) course
  • already receiving a pension or eligible payment
  • studying full time in an approved course, undertaking approved activities or in some circumstances, part time

Carer Allowance (Over 16yrs)

If you currently receive Carer Allowance (Child Under 16yrs) or partial-allowance if you provide part time care, you may be eligible to receive Carer Allowance (Over 16yrs). A medical report from the person’s Doctor is required to apply (the medical report form is available from Centrelink as part of the Carer Allowance application package). You will need to book a long appointment with your son or daughter’s GP to complete the medical report, and your son or daughter will need to attend the appointment.

Carer Payment

Carer Payment is an income support payment for people who personally provide constant care in the home of someone with a severe disability, illness, or who is frail aged. If you are deemed eligible to receive Carer Payment, you will automatically receive Carer Allowance. See full eligibility requirements

Ex-Carer Allowance (Child) Health Care Card

If you are eligible for Carer Allowance (Over 16yrs), your child will not automatically be allocated a Health Care Card in their name. If you already have a Health Care Card for your entire family, or your child is eligible for the Disability Support Pension, you will not need to apply for the Ex-Carer Allowance (Child) Health Care Card. Your child may still be eligible for this even if you have been deemed ineligible for Carer Allowance (Over 16yrs) by Centrelink.

Mobility Allowance

Mobility Allowance is a Centrelink payment for people with disability, illness or injury who cannot use public transport without substantial assistance and who participate in approved activities. To qualify for Mobility Allowance, a person must be:

  • aged 16 years or older
  • unable to use public transport without substantial assistance because of a disability, illness, or injury
  • travelling to and from home for paid work, voluntary work, study or training, or to look for work

Country Age Pension Fuel Card (Western Australian Government Scheme)

If your son or daughter is eligible for the Disability Support Pension, or you receive Carer Payment or other eligible pension and live in regional Western Australia, the payment recipient is eligible to receive the Country Age Pension Fuel Card. The Fuel Card application can be obtained from your local Australia Post office, and you can submit the completed form (you must show Australia Post staff the Pensioner Concession Card as proof of eligibility) direct at your local Australia Post Office. The fuel card will automatically be reissued annually as long as the person remains eligible. The fuel card assists with transport costs, and can be used with taxis and petrol stations registered with the Country Age Pension Fuel Card Scheme.

Continence Aids Payment

The Continence Aids Payment helps you meet some of the costs associated with continence and continence related products if you have permanent and severe incontinence and are 5 years of age or older.

Medicare Card (in own name)

When your teen turns 15 years of age, they can apply for their own Medicare card. Complete a Medicare copy or transfer Application form and submit it at your local Medicare service centre. You’ll need to provide identification, such as a student card or birth certificate, as well as details about the card you are transferring from. Make sure you register your teen’s bank account details to receive their Medicare rebate faster. You can complete and submit the Bank account details Collection form

What if I need help?

A disability advocate can assist with applying for the Disability Support Pension.  You can find an advocate near you here.  SWAN may also be able to assist in some circumstances.


Photo of Nick Avery, a woman with long strawberry blonde hair, and fair skin. She's wearing glasses with bright blue lenses, a light blue floral scarf and a cobalt blue shirt.

About the author

Nick Avery is an autistic parent of two autistic young adults, and has been volunteering, advocating and working in the south west disability sector since 1999. Her background is in Youth Work, Community and Disability Services, and is a Youth Mental Health First Aid trainer. Nick has been involved with SWAN as a volunteer since 2010, a year after the organisation was founded, and became an employee in 2014. Her knowledge of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is extensive, and she’s very experienced in providing individual and systemic advocacy. Nick also has physical disability.