3.2.5.10 Qualification for YA & DSP as an Independent Young Person

Qualification criteria

Young people are considered to be independent if they are in ONE of the following groups:

  • are, or have been, a member of a YA couple (1.1.M.130), OR
  • have, or have had, a dependant YA child (1.1.D.90). That is a child who is, or was, wholly or substantially dependent on them or their partner (YA only), OR
  • aged 22 years or over from 1 January 2012 (YA only), OR
  • orphan, OR
  • parents cannot exercise their responsibilities because they are in prison, are mentally incapacitated, living in a nursing home or missing, OR
  • refugee (1.1.R.110), OR
  • young person in state care (1.1.S.320), OR
  • unreasonable to live at home, OR
  • are, or have been, self-supporting through employment, OR
  • aged 18 and over, and have a work history but who experience education or employment disadvantage, OR
  • assessed as having a partial capacity to work (1.1.P.65) - YA job seekers only.

Note: These categories apply to DSP if the person is under 21 years of age and does not have a dependent child (1.1.D.70) in their care.

Each of the categories is explained in detail further on in this topic, or in a linked reference.

Act reference: SSAct section 5(1)-'parent', section 1067A When a person is regarded as independent

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.5.30 Unreasonable to Live at Home (YA & DSP), 3.2.5.80 YA & DSP - Self-supporting through Paid Employment, 3.2.5.90 Education or Employment Disadvantage (YA & DSP), 1.1.P.65 Partial capacity to work (NSA, YA (job seeker), PP & SpB (NVH))

Member of a couple

To qualify under this category, the young person must be, or have been a member of a YA couple. That is, they:

  • are/were married, OR
  • are/were in a registered relationship, OR
  • have been in a de facto relationship for a minimum of 12 months, OR
  • have been in a de facto relationship for a minimum of 6 months, in special circumstances (see example).

Example: The young person's partner has died, or they have separated due to domestic violence.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.5.20 De Facto Relationships (YA & DSP)

Dependent YA child

To qualify under this category, the young person must have, or have had a natural or adoptive child who is, or was wholly or substantially dependent on them or their partner.

For DSP, if the person aged under 21 years CURRENTLY has a dependent child, their rate is paid at the common pension rate (5.1.8.10).

22 years or over

From 1 January 2012, YA recipients are considered independent from their 22nd birthday.

Previously, YA recipients were independent from their 23rd birthday prior to 1 January 2012, 24th birthday prior to 1 January 2011, and 25th birthday prior to 1 April 2010.

Orphan

A young person qualifies under this category if their natural or adoptive parents are both dead. It does NOT matter if the young person is dependent on someone else.

Parents cannot exercise their responsibilities

A young person qualifies under this category if both of the person's parents (or, if the person has only one parent, that parent):

  • are/is in prison or remanded in custody for at least 14 days, OR
  • are/is admitted to a nursing home, or mentally incapacitated to the extent that they cannot exercise their parental responsibilities for an indefinite period, OR
  • cannot be located by the claimant or the department. If subsequently either parent is located, contact should be made to verify that it is unreasonable for the young person to live with them.

It does NOT matter if the young person is dependent, or was last dependent on someone else. If the parent/s are unable to exercise their responsibilities for a short time only, other categories of independence should be considered.

Partial capacity to work (YA job seekers only)

Unlike the majority of other independence criteria, which recognise young people as having demonstrated independence from their parents through workforce participation, having a dependent child etc, the objective of this criterion is to allow the application of a means test regime similar to that for DSP. The addition of 'partial capacity to work' to the independence criteria for YA job seekers allows these people to be exempt from the parental means test. This exemption does not apply to YA full-time students or YA Australian Apprentices.

Refugee

A young refugee is NOT considered independent under this category if:

  • they have a parent living in Australia, OR
  • they are wholly or substantially dependent on another person on a long term basis (see example).

Example: A young woman whose parents remain in Somalia to search for other missing children is under the care of overseas aid workers in Australia. If this care is temporary, the accommodation and other support does NOT disqualify her from being independent.

State care

A young person qualifies under this category if they are under an order or direction from a state or territory authority, provided they are NOT living with a parent. Support from the state or territory does NOT affect the person's independent status, but will affect the rate of YA or DSP payable.

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.U.60 Upkeep (YA)

Reviewable components of independence

Reviewable independent status is granted on the basis of a condition that CAN change.

Independence Category Reviewable Independence Reviewable on notification of:
Member of a YA couple NO  
Person with a dependent child NO  
Person aged 22 years or more NO  
Orphan YES
  • young person becomes legally adopted.
Parents cannot exercise responsibilities YES
  • parent is no longer missing, or
  • parent has completed prison sentence, or
  • parent recovers from mental incapacity, or
  • parent returns home from nursing home.
Refugee YES
  • young person's parents come to Australia, or
  • young person becomes dependent on someone else on a long term basis.
State care YES
  • young person returns to parental home, or
  • young person is no longer in state care (not because of age).
Unable to live at home (UTLAH) YES
  • young person moves permanently back into the parental home, or
  • young person receives continuous support.
People who are disadvantaged YES
  • young person returns to the parental home, or
  • young person receives financial support from the parent or from another person who is acting as the person's guardian on a long term basis.
Self-supporting NO  
Assessed as having a partial capacity to work YES

young person is no longer assessed as:

  • having a partial capacity to work, or
  • becomes a full-time student, or
  • becomes an Australian Apprentice.
Last reviewed: 9 February 2015