3.10.3.35 Weekly Payments for Most Vulnerable People

Summary

Receiving income support payments on a weekly basis is voluntary. Weekly payment of income support is specifically targeted to those recipients who are financially vulnerable and will only be offered to these people. Recipients who have difficulty managing their finances, including those with mental health issues, gambling and/or substance addictions, some victims of domestic violence and others who have demonstrated they have difficulty managing their money to last to the end of a fortnight may be assisted by weekly payments.

Centrelink will work with these people to assess their needs and offer weekly payments in conjunction with a suite of Centrelink support services including Centrepay and referrals to welfare providers, housing authorities, social workers and youth agencies.

Payment

Weekly payment recipients still have fortnightly instalment periods (1.1.E.125). An instalment period is the period during which a person's income and assets are taken into account and applied to the rate of social security payment that the recipient would otherwise be qualified for. The timing of a person's payment will depend on whether they are paid under the old weekly payments model or the new weekly payments model.

Old weekly payments delivery model

Recipients in receipt of weekly payments as at 8 December 2012 are paid under the old weekly payment delivery model where the first payment is generally made on day 8 (i.e. in arrears and based on the person's fortnightly rate of payment). The balance is generally paid on day 15 (at the end of their 14 day entitlement period). Recipients granted weekly payments under this model will continue to be paid in this manner until their qualification for weekly payments ends or they cease being paid income support.

Current weekly payments delivery model

Recipients who are offered weekly payments after 8 December 2012 will be assisted under a new model. The new weekly payment model means that recipients receive their first weekly payment 14 days after their previous EPED and then in an ongoing weekly cycle thereafter. Once recipients circumstance change and they no longer receive payments in weekly instalments, a final weekly payment is received on exit and then a fortnightly payment 7 days later. This assists recipients to more easily transition off weekly payments when their circumstances improve.

Definition of most vulnerable

For the purposes of weekly payments the definition of most vulnerable is a person who:

  • is homeless, or
  • is at risk of homelessness and has issues of vulnerability and significant disadvantage and would benefit from receiving payments on a weekly basis, or
  • has considerable difficulty in managing their finances (as defined in SS(Admin)Act section 123TH) on a fortnightly basis and would benefit from receiving payments on a weekly basis.

The decision maker should take into account all of the circumstances of the individual when determining eligibility for weekly payment. To assist in making this determination, the decision maker should also take into account the following indicators which may identify that the person would benefit from receiving their income support payments on a weekly basis. Not all indicators need to be present:

  • Centrelink homelessness indicator recorded,
  • one of the following vulnerability indicators recorded:
    • psychiatric problems or mental illness,
    • cognitive or neurological impairment,
    • drug/alcohol dependent, severe enough to impede compliance,
    • homelessness,
    • recent traumatic relationship breakdown, particularly if domestic violence was involved,
  • evicted or facing eviction from place of residence including rental arrears,
  • recent traumatic relationship breakdown, particularly if domestic and/or family violence was involved as defined in 1.1.D.235,
  • the person, the person's partner, or a dependent child of the person has a diagnosed mental illness, acquired brain injury or acute cognitive impairment,
  • the person or the person's partner has a gambling, substance or alcohol dependence that is severe enough to impede the person from managing their finances on a fortnightly basis,
  • the person is experiencing financial exploitation (humbugging),
  • ongoing budgeting difficulty with fortnightly payment arrangements,
  • sought advance, urgent or crisis payment in the past 6 months,
  • unforeseen event that substantially reduces income or requires significant additional expenditure.

Note: Weekly payments are to be offered in conjunction with other services and referrals as appropriate (e.g. services such as drug rehabilitation or domestic violence counselling).

Eligible payment types

Weekly payments are available for the following payment types only:

  • age pension,
  • disability support pension,
  • wife pension,
  • widow B pension,
  • carer payment,
  • special benefit,
  • bereavement allowance,
  • newstart allowance,
  • youth allowance,
  • austudy payment,
  • partner allowance,
  • sickness allowance,
  • widow allowance,
  • parenting payment (single),
  • parenting payment (partnered),
  • ABSTUDY.

RA is paid as part of the primary payment. As such, if the payment is able to be paid weekly, then the RA component can also be paid weekly.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 123TH Priority needs

Reviews

Centrelink will conduct regular reviews of the person receiving weekly payments. The frequency of the review will depend on the person's circumstances. Twelve months will be the maximum period for a person to receive weekly payments without a review.

Other eligibility issues

To be eligible for weekly payments a person must be an Australian resident, living in Australia.

People receiving weekly payments are ineligible for urgent payments.

For further information regarding eligibility for weekly payments, refer to the disallowable instruments Social Security (Administration) (Weekly Payments - Class of Persons) (FaHCSIA) Specification 2010 and Social Security (Administration) (Weekly Payments - Classes of Persons) (DEEWR) Specification 2010 dated 16 April 2010.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 43 Payment by Instalments

Last reviewed: 16 May 2016