Surrogacy, Medicare and Centrelink
Big questions for birth parents and intended parents – who is eligible for Centrelink’s Paid Parental Leave, and will the parents be able to access Medicare benefits for the baby? As with all things bureaucratic, there are as many different answers to those questions as there are bureaucrats.
If you are new to surrogacy, you can read about how to find a surrogate, or how to become a surrogate yourself. You can also download the free Surrogacy Handbook which explains the processes and options.
Looking for a surrogate and not sure where to start? We Need a Surrogate – What’s Next? And if you have a surrogate or intended parents, you can get started on the surrogacy process.
You can read a broad overview for surrogacy in Australia and how it works.
You can also book in for a consult with me below, and check out the legal services I provide.
Before worrying about Medicare and Centrelink, you should be registering the birth with the birth parents listed as parents.
In usual circumstances, parents can apply for their new baby to be placed on their Medicare card from birth. In surrogacy, the baby will sometimes end up listed on the birth parents’ Medicare card. Other intended parents have had no difficulty having the baby listed on their own Medicare card, and in some cases Medicare has determined to give the baby their own card. Medicare usually lists a baby on the parents’ card based on who is listed as the child’s parents on their Birth Certificate, so surrogacy can cause some confusion for Medicare staff and the parties all at once.
For intended parents applying to have the child placed on their Medicare card, they can try emailing Medicare at MES@servicesaustralia.gov.au. Some intended parents have been able to have the baby placed on their Medicare card by explaining the surrogacy arrangement and providing a copy of the surrogacy agreement or approval certificate. You can explain that the Parentage Order application is underway but could take a few months before it is finalised.
The intended parents should have no difficulty listing baby on their Medicare card once the Parentage Order has been processed and they are listed on the Birth Certificate. My advice, if you are wondering what to do, is for the birth and intended parents to visit a Medicare office together, and seek that the baby be listed on the intended parent’s Medicare card. If the staff are not willing to do that, then it might be worth waiting to get the Parentage Order before trying again.
Centrelink’s Paid Parental Leave
Fun fact: surrogates can apply for Centrelink’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme. And intended parents, with primary care of the child, can also apply for Paid Parental Leave. Unfortunately, because surrogacy is not common in Australia, most Centrelink staff will not be aware of their own policy and may determine that the surrogate cannot access PPL. However, Centrelink’s own policy directs that the surrogate can apply for PPL, and most surrogates I have had contact with have been granted the benefit. My advice, again – the birth parents should attend Centrelink with the intended parents to apply in person. If the staff are not familiar with the policy, then insist on speaking with someone who knows more about it. If you are refused the benefit and think you are eligible, then appeal the decision.
Centrelink may ask for evidence that the surrogate has relinquished care of the baby to the intended parents. You can use this template Statutory Declaration as evidence of the relinquishment.
You can read more about surrogacy parental leave and workplace policy application in surrogacy arrangements.
Having trouble with the bureaucrats? Get in touch and see if I can help out.
And if you’re getting ready to apply for a Parentage Order, you can do some preparation – even before baby arrives!