Centrelink will want to know whether you’re single or in a relationship because that affects how much money you can get.

You have 14 days to let Centrelink know if someone moves in with you. They may ask you to fill out a Relationship Details form to get an idea of your relationship with that person.

Centrelink can say you’re a couple from the day you move in together. If Centrelink says you’re in a relationship but you don’t think that’s right, ring us for advice.

Video Resource: Are you in a relationship? What to do if Centrelink wants to know more about your relationship status.

If you don’t tell Centrelink that you live with your partner, you may be paid too much and you’ll have to pay it back. If there is a lot of money involved and Centrelink thinks you didn’t tell them on purpose, you could also be criminally charged.

If you are worried about this happening, please give us a call straight away for legal advice. Everything you tell us is completely confidential.

Centrelink can look at whether you might be in a relationship even if you don’t think you are. They call that ‘deciding whether you’re a member of a couple’. 

Centrelink will try to gather as much information about you as possible. They might look at things like:

  • How you use your money
  • How you live in your house
  • Whether friends, family and others think you’re in a relationship
  • Whether you have a sexual relationship 
  • Whether you help and support each other

You can find out more about the kind of things Centrelink considers here

If Centrelink decides you’re in a relationship but you don’t agree, you have the right to appeal. Contact us for advice.

Sometimes peoples’ relationships are so difficult that they shouldn’t be considered ‘members of a couple’. That can include situations of domestic violence where you don’t get any financial or emotional support from your partner. It can also include situations where:

  • You don’t know about your partner’s financial situation
  • Your partner won’t let you tell Centrelink about them or their work
  • Your partner is controlling or taking your Centrelink payments
  • Your partner is threatening to report you to Centrelink if you leave
  • You want to leave your partner

We understand that it’s tough without enough money to live on so it can be difficult to work out what to do. It’s important that you contact us for advice rather than hide information from Centrelink. Everything you tell us is confidential

If you are a member of a couple, your partner’s income will affect the type of payments you can get from Centrelink and how much you can get. For most payments you will need to report your partner’s income every fortnight. 

You’ll also need to make sure you report both your income and your partner’s ‘annual income’ for Family Tax Benefit. For more information, click here.

If you separate from your partner, you should tell Centrelink as soon as possible so you can get the single rate straight away. If you don’t tell them straight away, you may not get back paid to the date you separated.

If you’re being investigated, it’s very important you get legal advice before you talk to Centrelink. Anything you discuss with Centrelink can be used against you but Centrelink can’t force you to talk so we might advise you not to attend any meetings or interviews.


You can find out more about how Centrelink considers relationships here.