3.2.3.10 Qualification for YA

Qualification (1.1.Q.10) criteria

To qualify for YA, a person must meet the criteria listed in the following table. Where more detail about a criterion is required, the second column indicates where you will find this.

Criterion More Detail
ALL of the following
Be between the minimum and maximum ages for YA, AND This topic
Be an Australian resident, OR a certain SCV holder, in Australia at the time of lodging the claim, AND 3.1.1 Residence Requirements

This topic

Satisfy the activity test (1.1.M.160), OR be an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324). This topic

3.2.7.10 Satisfying the YA Activity Test

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident is…

Minimum age criteria

The minimum age for YA is 16 years.

Exception: Where the young person is above school leaving age in their state or territory.

Act reference: SSAct section 543A(1) Subject to this section, the person has attained the minimum age for YA if the person…

School leaving age

Any 15 year old claiming YA in a state or territory where the minimum school leaving age is 16 or higher does not satisfy the minimum age requirements and should test their eligibility for SpB.

If a 15 year old YA recipient in a state or territory where the minimum school leaving age is 15 relocates to a state or territory with a higher school leaving age they will retain their qualification for YA. This is because they have already reached the minimum school leaving age in the state or territory where they first qualified.

For young people living near state or territory boundaries, qualification is determined by the minimum school leaving age in the state or territory in which the person lives, not where they study/work.

Special rules for early school leavers

Young people are considered to be early school leavers (1.1.E.05) until they turn 22 or have completed Year 12 or an equivalent qualification (Certificate Level III) (1.1.Y.20). These young people will only qualify for YA if they agree to enter into a Job Plan (1.1.J.25).

Special rules for 15 year olds

A 15 year old can be considered independent if:

  • they have, or have had a dependent child,
  • they are married, or have been in a de facto relationship (either of the same sex or different sex) for at least 12 months,
  • their parents cannot exercise their responsibilities,
  • they are a refugee or orphan,
  • they are in state care, or
  • it is unreasonable for them to live at home.

For a person to qualify as independent on the grounds that they have been in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months, the 12 months must have been while the young person was over the age of consent in the state or territory in which they live.

Special rules for under 18s

Young people aged under 18 years are considered NOT to have reached the minimum age for YA unless the person:

  • has completed Year 12, or an equivalent level of education (Certificate Level III or above), OR
  • is undertaking full-time study (1.1.F.230) or training, OR
  • is a full-time Australian Apprentice, OR
  • is exempt from the requirement to be in full-time study or training, OR
  • has entered into or agrees to enter a Job Plan and is undertaking education, training or other approved activities.

Note: For secondary school students who are 'undertaking full-time study or training', this requirement must be read in conjunction with the criteria outlined in the 'Minimum age criteria' section above.

Secretary determines that a person is not benefiting

Dependent full-time secondary students who are not benefiting from FTB that is being paid to their parents for them may be able to apply for YA where the Secretary determines that failure to assist the young person is likely to place them at risk of disengaging from education because the parent is using the money for purposes other than providing support to the young person.

Dependent, full-time secondary students living at home who lodge a YA application on these grounds will need to have their claims assessed by a social worker who will make a determination as to whether or not the circumstances being experienced by the young person are likely to place them 'at risk' were they not to receive YA directly.

Act reference: SSAct section 543A(2) Subject to subsections (2AA), (2A) and (2B), a person who…

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.4 YA exemption from full-time education/training for under 18s, 3.2.8 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers

Maximum age criteria

The maximum age for YA is:

  • 22 years for unemployed young people, OR
  • 25 years for full-time students or Australian Apprentices, OR
  • 22 years and over, for young people who:
    • are undertaking a course of education that is to last less than 12 months, AND
    • were on NSA immediately before starting the course.

Full-time students retain qualification until the end of their course, even though this may occur after their 25th birthday. The young person must actually be undertaking the course as a full-time student or Australian Apprentice and receiving YA as they turn 25 in order to be assessed as not having attained the maximum age.

YA Australian Apprentices retain qualification until the end of their continuous Australian Apprentice status even though this may occur after their 25th birthday. The young person must be undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship and receiving YA as they turn 25 to be assessed as not having attained YA maximum age.

Note: The reference to '12 months' is equivalent to an academic year or 2 consecutive semesters where this equates to an academic year, depending on the type of education course and the educational institution.

Residence (1.1.R.200)

To qualify for YA, the person must be an Australian resident currently in Australia.

Exceptions:

  • Young people receiving YA as a full-time student can continue to qualify while outside Australia in certain circumstances (3.2.3.20).
  • Australian Apprentices can continue to qualify for YA while outside Australia.
  • YA job seekers may also continue to qualify while outside Australia for humanitarian reasons, an acute family crisis, eligible medical treatment or to attend Defence Force Reserve service.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.1 Residence Requirements, 3.2.3.20 Payability of YA, 1.1.N.70 Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP)

Proper claim

A claimant must lodge a proper claim before YA can be granted.

Policy reference: SS Guide 8.1.1 Claim Lodgement Provisions

Activity test

A young person must satisfy the YA activity test by undertaking:

  • full-time study, OR
  • job search, OR
  • a combination of activities.

Exception: Australian Apprentices do not have activity test requirements but must satisfy the definition of Australian Apprentice for payment to continue.

Early school leavers

An early school leaver must satisfy the activity test by signing and complying with a Job Plan which requires the young person to undertake for at least the required number of hours per week:

  • one or more approved courses of education or training, OR
  • a combination of one or more approved courses of education, and one or more activities that the Secretary considers suitable for the person, OR
  • other approved activities for the required hours each week in addition to up to 20 compulsory job searches per month.

The appropriate number of hours per week is:

  • 25 or 15 for principal carer payment and partial capacity to work job seekers, or
  • the number of hours considered by the Secretary to be suitable for the young person.

Act reference: SSAct section 544DA YA Employment Pathway Plans-early school leavers

Principal carers in receipt of YA

Young people claiming YA in the following circumstances may qualify:

  • single people aged under 22 years who are the principal carer (1.1.P.412) of the youngest child aged at least 8 years,
  • partnered people aged under 22 years who are the principal carer of a youngest child aged at least 6 years.

Job seekers classified under SSAct section 5 as a principal carer of a child must, unless exempted, satisfy the activity test by complying with approved activities outlines in their Job Plan.

A principal carer will meet their mutual obligation requirements if they are looking for suitable paid work where the work is of at least 30 hours per fortnight, and participating in any other activities as specified in their Job Plan.

A principal carer can also choose to fully meet their requirements by undertaking 30 hours per fortnight of (or any combination of) suitable paid work, approved study (where the total number of hours includes contact and non-contact hours) and in some circumstances voluntary work. If the principal carer is not fully meeting their requirements in this way they will generally be required to look for suitable work or undertake other suitable activities as part of their Job Plan until their requirements are met.

Principal carer job seekers who are meeting their requirements through paid work, study or a combination of paid work and study for a total of at least 30 hours per fortnight are not required to remain connected to their employment services provider or accept any offers of suitable paid work.

Principal carers who are undertaking approved study, by itself or in combination with other suitable activities, who do not fully meet their requirements will be required to accept any suitable paid work that fits around any study that is outlined in their Job Plan, and is appropriate in respect of their caring responsibilities.

Principal carers who are undertaking voluntary work by itself or in combination with other suitable activities to meet the activity test must remain connected to an employment services provider.

An early school leaver who is also a principal carer parent, and is meeting their mutual obligation requirements through 30 hours a fortnight of any combination of approved study, paid employment or participation in the Green Army Programme, cannot be required to undertake additional education and training or job search in their Job Plan.

Act reference: SSAct section 5(1)-'principal carer'

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.8.20 Who Do Mutual Obligation Requirements Apply to?, 3.2.8.30 What Is a Job Plan?, 3.2.9.210 Suitable Activity - Principal Carer

People with a partial capacity to work (1.1.P.65)

From 1 July 2006, changes to income support payments meant that young people who are assessed as having a partial capacity to work can qualify for YA.

The YA activity test applies to these people and the ESAt process determines the activities an individual may be required to undertake reflecting their individual capacity and circumstances. There is usually a requirement to study or look for work for at least 15 hours per week and/or appropriate activities unless already undertaking paid work consistent with their capacity.

The ESAt process is used to inform whether a young person has a partial capacity to work. The assessment also informs the kinds of activities a YA recipient will be required to undertake to their capacity in order to meet activity test requirements.

For YA purposes, a young person has a partial capacity to work if they have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment and are assessed by a job capacity assessor as being unable to work, or to be trained for work of, at least 30 hours a week independently of support within the next 2 years.

An assessor will assess the young person's work capacity at the time of assessment and their work capacity within 2 years with interventions. Work capacity is assessed in bandwidths of 0-7 hours per week, 8-14 hours per week, 15-22 hours per week, 23-29 hours per week or 30 plus hours per week.

Payment eligibility and activity test requirements are based on a young person's work capacity within 2 years with intervention.

The exception to this is when a young person has a degenerative condition and their work capacity within 2 years with intervention is less than their work capacity at the time of assessment. In this case, payment eligibility and activity test requirements are based on work capacity at the time of assessment.

YA recipients with a work capacity within 2 years with intervention of 30 or more hours per week will not be considered to have a partial capacity to work.

All YA recipients assessed as having a partial capacity to work are eligible for YDS.

YA (job seeker) recipients assessed as having a partial capacity to work will receive a PCC, PhA and TAL (if they are a telephone subscriber). They will also be exempt from the parental means test for YA.

Act reference: SSAct section 16B Partial capacity to work, section 540AB Qualification for YA-claimants with medical conditions affecting their capacity to work

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.P.65 Partial capacity to work (NSA, YA (job seeker), PP & SpB (NVH)), 3.2.8 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers, 1.1.E.104 Employment services assessment (ESAt)

Activity test exemptions

A young person does not have to meet the activity test, if they have:

  • a temporary incapacity, OR
  • claimed DSP and have been granted provisional YA, OR
  • a special circumstance exemption, OR
  • a pre-natal or post-natal exemption, OR
  • a remote area exemption, OR
  • an unpaid voluntary work (1.1.V.70) exemption, OR
  • a training camp exemption.

Act reference: SSAct Part 2.11 Division 1 Subdivision C Exemptions from the activity test (YA)

Youth Allowance (Satisfactory Study Progress) Guidelines 2014

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.4 YA exemption from full-time education/training for under 18s, 3.2.11 Mutual obligation requirements for NSA/YA - exemptions

Working credit participants

A YA job seeker who has a working credit balance and takes up employment, is treated as still being qualified for the period it takes to run down their working credit balance despite not satisfying the activity test. This allows the person to benefit from their working credit balance - providing encouragement to young people to take up a job.

This treatment will continue until the earliest of:

  • their working credit balance is reduced to nil, or
  • qualification (other than related to the employment such as starting an Australian Apprenticeship) is lost, or
  • payability (other than related to employment income) is lost.

Act reference: SSAct section 1073J Working credit balance prevents loss of qualification in certain cases

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.11.30 Working credit depletion

Australian Apprentices

Australian Apprentices do not have activity test requirements but must satisfy the definition of Australian Apprentice for payment to continue.

Part-time Australian Apprentices undertaking a full-time training or study block are considered full-time students.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.7.10 Satisfying the YA Activity Test

Imprisonment

Young people who are in a prison, remand centre or similar cannot qualify for YA. Young people under a home detention order or similar can qualify for YA, provided they can satisfy the activity test.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.4 Imprisonment, Psychiatric Confinement & Prison Release

Residence exemption - one-off payment of YA for SCV holders from New Zealand

New Zealand citizens who are the holders of an SCV who arrived in Australia at any time on or after 26 February 2001 and do not meet the definition of an Australian resident for social security purposes can qualify for YA under certain circumstances.

New Zealand citizens who are SCV holders may be exempt from the residence requirements and able to qualify for a one-off period of payment for up to 6 months of either SA, NSA or YA (subject to other qualification requirements) if:

  • they are the holder of an SCV, and
  • immediately before claiming they have resided in Australia continuously for at least 10 years, which commenced on or after 26 February 2001.

Note: No applicant will be able to meet the conditions of this provision until 26 February 2011.

The 6 month period does not start until any relevant waiting and/or preclusion/exclusion periods have been served and payments commence.

Transfer between payments is not permitted under this residence exemption. For example, YA (other) recipients who turn 22 years old during their 6 months on payment will be unable to transfer to NSA and are unable to receive YA beyond the maximum age.

A temporary absence such as a holiday does not mean that a person ceases to reside in Australia and can be included in the 10 years.

SSAct section 38B may be applied to treat a person in certain circumstances as having received an income support payment in respect of the continuous 6 month period even though the person did not actually receive such a payment during a part or parts of the period, for example due to employment income.

To qualify and retain qualification for payment under this residence exemption the person must be the holder of a non-protected SCV. If a person is granted a different visa they will no longer qualify under these provisions, and will incur the 104 week NARWP before they may re-qualify for SA, NSA or YA.

An SCV holder who was in Australia on 26 February 2001 is a protected SCV holder, and may be regarded as an Australian resident. For more information regarding protected SCV holders, refer to 3.1.1.10.

Act reference: SSAct section 540 Qualification for YA-general rule, section 540AA Qualification for YA-new apprentices, section 7(7) …a person is exempt from the residence requirement in respect of a period if…, section 38B Notional continuous period of receipt of income support payments, section 23(1)-'waiting period'

Policy reference: SS Guide 9.1.2.40 New Zealand citizens, 3.1.1.10 Residence requirements, 3.1.2 Waiting & Preclusion Periods

Last reviewed: 20 March 2019