3.15.1 CEA - Qualification & Payability

Qualification (1.1.Q.10) criteria

Clean energy advance (CEA) payments to eligible government payment recipients ceased on 31 December 2013.

The CEA was paid until clean energy supplement (CES) payments commenced (3.15.2). From 20 September 2014 the ES replaced the CES. From 20 March 2017, the ES was closed to new CSHC holders. Refer to 3.15.2.30 for more details.

To qualify for a CEA, a person must have met the criteria listed in the table below. If more detail about a criterion is required, the second column contains or indicates where you will find this. The CEA was generally a one-off lump sum payment.

A person must have met ALL of the following:

Criteria More detail
Been residing in Australia, AND 3.1.1.10 Residence Requirements
Been in Australia on a determination day between 14 May 2012 and 30 June 2012 or during the advance period specified for the person's qualifying payment, AND See qualifying payments and advance periods below.

Been receiving greater than a nil rate of ONE of the following qualifying payments:

  • List 1:
    • age pension, OR
    • DSP (aged 21 or over, or aged under 21 with dependent children), OR
    • carer payment, OR
    • wife pension, OR
    • widow B pension, OR
    • parenting payment (single), OR
    • bereavement allowance, OR
    • seniors supplement, OR
    • newstart allowance, OR
    • parenting payment (partnered), OR
    • partner allowance, OR
    • sickness allowance, OR
    • SpB (whose rate is worked out as if the person were qualified for NSA), OR
    • widow allowance, OR
  • List 2:
    • youth allowance, OR
    • austudy payment, OR
    • DSP (aged under 21 without dependent children), OR
    • SpB (whose rate is worked out as if the person were qualified for Austudy or YA).

This topic.

3.1.12 Employment Income Nil Rate Period

CEA payments made with respect to the 'List 1' qualifying payments represented assistance for the period from 1 July 2012 to 19 March 2013 inclusive - the 9 month 'CEA period'.

Two CEA payments were made with respect to the 'List 2' qualifying payments. The first represented assistance for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 inclusive - the 12 month 'CEA period'. The second represented assistance for the period from 1 July 2013 to 31 December 2013 inclusive - the 6 month 'CEA period'.

Note: CEA payments may also have been paid to qualified payment recipients under the following legislation and administrative schemes:

  • the Farm Household Support Act 1992,
  • the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999,
  • the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986,
  • the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004,
  • the Veterans' Children Education Scheme,
  • the MRCA Education and Training Scheme, and
  • the ABSTUDY scheme.

SCV holders who were qualified for a one-off period of payment for up to 6 months of either SA, NSA or YA may also have qualified for a CEA provided they met all of the other CEA qualification criteria.

Act reference: SSAct section 914 Recipients of certain social security payments, 914A Recipients of Austudy, YA, some DSPs and some SpBs, section 23(1)-'clean energy qualifying payment', section 23(1)-'CEA period'

SS(Admin)Act section 47(1)(K) definition of a lump sum benefit

Duration of payment (CEA periods)

People receiving a qualifying government payment received assistance through a CEA, delivered from May 2012, before the carbon price started on 1 July 2012. The lump sum CEAs were followed by regular, ongoing CES once the carbon price impact was reflected in the normal indexation of the person's qualifying payment.

The timing of the changeover from the CEA to the ongoing CES was set to coincide with normal indexation dates for qualifying payments. As indexation takes place at different times of the year for different payments, the period of time for which the CEA was expected to assist the recipient (the CEA period) varied according to payment type. CEA periods corresponding to the various qualifying payments are shown in the qualification table above.

The amount of a person's CEA was determined using the following calculation: the relevant 'CEA daily rate' multiplied by the number of days from the person's qualification day to the end of the person's relevant CEA period.

Note: If the person qualified for the CEA before 1 July 2012, the number of days had to be counted from 1 July 2012.

This meant that people who qualified for a CEA on or before 1 July 2012 received a full CEA, calculated from 1 July 2012 to the end of the CEA period that corresponded to their qualifying payment. People who first became qualified for a CEA after 1 July 2012 were paid a pro-rata CEA calculated from the day on which they first qualified for the CEA to the end of their CEA period.

There were 3 different CEA periods, depending upon the person's circumstances:

  • The CEA period for people in receipt of various social security pensions or benefits other than Austudy, YA or DSP for a person who is under 21 with no dependent children began on 1 July 2012 and ended on 19 March 2013 - the 9 month CEA period.
  • The first of the 2 advance periods for people in receipt of Austudy, YA or DSP for a person who is under 21 without dependent children commenced on 1 July 2012 and ended on 30 June 2013 - the 12 month CEA period.
  • The second of the 2 advance periods for people in receipt of Austudy, YA or DSP for a person who is under 21 without dependent children commenced on 1 July 2013 and ended on 31 December 2013 - the 6 month CEA period.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'advance qualification day', section 23(1)-'CEA period', section 914D Amount of a CEA, section 914E CEA daily rate, section 914F Number of advance days

Policy reference: SS Guide 5.1.10.10 CEA - Current Rates

Claims

A person did not need to make a specific claim in order to qualify for a CEA or to qualify for a CEA top-up payment if their circumstances changed. CEAs and top-ups were paid automatically to people who qualified. Payments began to be made according to the following schedule for people who qualified before 1 July 2012:

  • FTB recipients - from 16 May 2012
  • Pension recipients - from 28 May 2012
  • Allowance recipients - from 11 June 2012
  • Seniors supplement recipients - from 23 June 2012

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 12K CEA

Overseas absences

A person did not receive a CEA while they were absent from Australia.

If a person normally resided in Australia and was receiving a qualifying payment while temporarily absent from Australia, they were tested for qualification for a CEA upon their return to Australia. If, upon return to Australia, the person qualified for a CEA and their absence from Australia was for a continuous period of no more than 13 weeks (6 weeks from 1 January 2013), they qualified for a full CEA. If the person's absence from Australia was greater than 13 weeks (6 weeks from 1 January 2013), they qualified for a pro-rata CEA calculated from the date of their return to the end of the relevant CEA period.

Act reference: SSAct section 914 Recipients of certain social security payments, section 914A Recipients of austudy, YA, some DSPs and some SpBs

Nil rate of payment

Generally, people receiving a nil rate of social security payment did not qualify for a CEA until their rate returned to greater than nil. However, in certain circumstances a nil rate could be disregarded. These circumstances included where:

  • a person's rate was nil on the determination day only because they had elected to receive their pension supplement quarterly,
  • a person's rate was nil on the determination day only because they had been paid an advance of PhA, or
  • the person received DFISA in addition to a nil rate of social security pension or benefit.

In these circumstances, the person's nil rate should have been disregarded for determining eligibility for a CEA in respect of their social security payment.

Act reference: SSAct section 914B Disregard nil rate in certain circumstances

Policy reference: SS Guide 4.3.5.70 About DVA Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA), 3.1.12 Employment Income Nil Rate Period, 1.1.Q.60 Quarterly pension supplement, 5.4.3 PhA Advance Payment

Duplicate payments (multiple qualification exclusion)

Generally, a person could qualify for only 1 CEA for a given CEA period (and for no more than 2 CEAs in total). However, a person could qualify for more than 1 CEA in the following circumstances:

  • a person who qualified for a CEA as an FTB recipient may also have qualified for a CEA as a recipient of another government payment,
  • a person who received a social security qualifying payment as well as a DVA disability pension paid under VEA Part II or Part IV at a rate determined by Division 4 of Part II of that Act may have received a CEA in respect of their social security payment as well as a CEA in respect of their VEA payment,
  • a person who received a social security qualifying payment as well as a permanent impairment payment or a special rate disability pension (SRDP) paid under the MRCA may have received a CEA in respect of each payment,
  • a person may have received a 12 month CEA, followed by a 6 month CEA, or
  • a person may have received a 9 month CEA and subsequently qualified for a 6 month CEA following a change in circumstances.

A person could not qualify for both the 9 month and the 12 month CEA. For example, if a person received a 9 month CEA in respect of NSA and moved to Austudy on 1 February 2013, the person was not eligible for a pro-rata CEA in respect of Austudy, but may have been eligible for a top-up.

Multiple qualification exclusion criteria are contained in the Social Security (Clean Energy - Multiple Qualification Exclusion) (FaHCSIA) Determination 2012, Social Security (Clean Energy - Multiple Qualification Exclusion) (DEEWR) Determination 2012, Social Security (Clean Energy - Multiple Qualification Exclusion) (DIISRTE) Determination 2012 which are disallowable instruments made under SSAct section 918.

Act reference: SSAct section 914C Limits on qualifying for multiple advances, section 918 Multiple qualification exclusions

Change of circumstance (top-ups)

If a person had received a CEA and their circumstances changed so that they became eligible for a higher rate of payment or a qualifying payment that had a longer CEA period, they may have qualified for a top-up payment.

Example 1: A person moved from Age partnered to Age single.

The CEA daily rate for a person on a single rate of Age was higher than for a person on a partnered rate. This meant that a person initially paid a CEA at the partnered rate may not have been adequately assisted if they moved to a single rate during the CEA period. A top-up may have been paid to ensure that this person was appropriately assisted over the course of their advance period. The top-up was calculated so that the total CEA amount the person received was equivalent to receiving a partnered CEA daily rate from their original payment start day to the day before they changed to a single rate, and a single CEA daily rate from the change day to the end of the CEA period.

Example 2: A person moved from PPS to Austudy single with child.

The CEA period corresponding to PPS was 9 months, whilst the CEA period corresponding to Austudy (single with child) was 12 months. As a result, a CEA paid to a person who subsequently moved from PPS to Austudy may not have provided assistance over the full course of their advance period/s. A top-up payment may have been paid for a person moving from PPS to Austudy (single with child) to ensure that the person received assistance appropriate to their circumstances over the course of the advance period/s corresponding to their qualifying payments. The top-up was calculated so that the total CEA amount the person received was equivalent to being paid a PPS CEA daily rate from their original payment start day to the day before they changed payments, and an Austudy (single with child) CEA daily rate from the change day to the end of their new CEA period.

Note: A person could not receive both a 9 and 12 month CEA.

The top-up was determined and automatically paid as soon as practicable after the change of circumstances.

CEA top-up criteria are contained in the Social Security (Clean Energy Advance - Top-Up Payment) (FaHCSIA) Determination 2012, the Social Security (Clean Energy Advance - Top-Up Payment) (DEEWR) Determination 2012 and the Social Security (Clean Energy Advance - Top-Up Payment) (DIISRTE) Determination 2012 which are disallowable instruments made under SSAct section 914G.

Act reference: SSAct section 914G Top-up payments of CEA

Payability

The CEA was payable as a single lump sum, from the day that the person qualified for the payment. It was generally paid as soon as was reasonably practicable.

It was not payable to a person who was known to have died.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 47D Payment of CEA

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.6.10 General Payability Provisions

Taxation

Clean energy payments paid under the SSAct, including CEAs, are exempt from income tax.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'clean energy payment'

Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 section 52-10 (1L) How much of a social security payment is exempt?

Policy reference: SS Guide 5.3.1.10 Taxation of Payments & PAYG Payment Summary - Individual Non-Business

Exempt Income

Clean energy payments (including CEAs) paid under the FAAct, VEA or the MRCA are not to be treated as income for the purposes of the SSAct.

Likewise, clean energy payments paid under the SSAct and the FAAct are exempt as income for the purpose of the VEA.

Act reference: SSAct section 8(8) Excluded amounts-general, see (jaa), (yha), (znb)

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 section 5H(8)(paa) …a payment of Family Assistance…, section 5H(8)(h) a payment under the SSAct

Debts

If a person has received a CEA and it is subsequently found that the CEA (or part of the CEA) was paid because the person knowingly made a false or misleading statement or knowingly provided false information, the CEA (or part of the CEA) will be a debt due to the Commonwealth.

No other debt provisions apply to the CEA.

Act reference: SSAct section 1224 Debts relating to CEA

Policy reference: SS Guide 6.7.1.10 Debts Due to the Commonwealth

Compensation

The CEA was not a compensation affected payment.

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.C.250 Compensation affected payment

Last reviewed: 20 March 2017