3.1.7.12 Exempt Maintenance Income

Summary

In some situations, maintenance (1.1.M.10) income is not assessed under the maintenance income test for FTB Part A. This topic provides information about exempt maintenance income where the individual:

  • receives maintenance for a child who does not attract more than the base rate (1.1.B.10) of FTB Part A,
  • or their partner is permanently blind,
  • receives maintenance specifically for their child's disability expenses, or
  • receives maintenance from the estate of a deceased payer (1.1.P.72).

Child does not attract more than the base rate of FTB Part A

Maintenance income is not assessable for a child who:

  • is not an FTB child, or
  • does not attract more than the base rate of FTB Part A.

Act reference: FAAct Schedule 1 clause 20 Effect of maintenance income on FTB rate

Individual or partner is permanently blind

If an individual or their partner is permanently blind, and they receive one of the following payments:

  • social security Age or DSP, or
  • a DVA service pension or income support supplement,

then maintenance income received by either the individual or their partner is not assessed.

Example: Stella cares for her 2 grandchildren and receives FTB for them. The children's father pays maintenance to Stella. Stella's partner is permanently blind and receives DSP. The maintenance Stella receives is not assessable under the maintenance income test. As their ATI (1.1.A.20) is below the income free area (1.1.I.40), Stella receives the maximum rate of FTB Part A.

Act reference: FAAct Schedule 1 clause 19B Application of maintenance income test to certain pension and benefit recipients and their partners

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.2.3.10 Age Pension (Age) - Description, 1.2.5.10 Disability Support Pension (DSP) - Description, 1.1.S.90 Service pension

Disability expenses maintenance

Maintenance received for an FTB child specifically for expenses due to a disability or learning difficulty that is permanent or long term is not assessable under the maintenance income test.

Example: Disability expenses maintenance includes:

  • special equipment purchase or hire,
  • special school fees, and
  • medical or pharmaceutical expenses.

However, not all maintenance received for a child who has a disability is necessarily for disability expenses maintenance.

Example: Kirsten privately collects 100% of her child support (1.1.C.20) administrative assessment, and occasionally receives extra for clothing or special outings. None of the maintenance is specifically identified in relation to her child's physical disability. All the maintenance is assessed as usual under the maintenance income test.

Act reference: FAAct section 19(3) Maintenance income

Identifying disability expenses maintenance

The following table shows how to work out how much of an individual's maintenance income is for disability expenses maintenance.

If maintenance is collected… The amount of disability expenses maintenance is…
by Child Support, nil, unless any extra child support is paid because the special needs of the child significantly affect maintenance costs. Only the extra amount is for disability expenses maintenance.
privately, as above (Child Support collection), unless the payer pays more than the assessed amount and the extra amount is specifically to meet the costs of the child's disability or learning difficulty. Only the extra amount is for disability expenses maintenance.
privately under an informal agreement, the amount identified by the individual.

The individual should be asked to provide supporting documents if there is any doubt as to the amount of maintenance paid specifically for the child's disability expenses.

Note: Where a child support assessment includes an amount specifically indicated for a child's disability expenses, Child Support may provide a breakdown to the payee in writing. The payee should provide a copy of this letter or other such evidence of the child's disability expenses to Centrelink to determine what amount of the assessment should be disregarded.

Maintenance received from the estate of a deceased payer

An individual may receive a payment of maintenance arrears from the estate of a deceased payer if it is reasonable to do so. Any payment received from the estate is not assessed as maintenance income. Any arrears owing should be exempt from the maintenance income test (3.1.5.50).

Explanation: Maintenance is defined as financial support from the payer to the payee (1.1.P.71) for a child. Since this payment has been made by the estate, not a person, it is not maintenance.

Policy reference: FA Guide 3.1.5.50 Reasonable Maintenance Action Completed

Last reviewed: 11 May 2015