Qualification for WP

Note: WP ceased on 20 March 2020. The following information is for historical purposes only as the information only relates to the period before 20 March 2020.


There have been no new grants of WP from 1 July 1995. Current cases remain eligible for WP until otherwise disqualified.

Explanation: Disqualification may occur through changes in income or assets, the couple separate, or the woman's partner is no longer receiving Age or DSP.

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 146V(1) Wife pension not to be granted after 30 June 1995

Policy reference: SS Guide Wife pension (WP) - description

Qualification criteria

To qualify for WP, a claimant must meet ALL the criteria listed below:

  • be a member of a couple (1.1.M.120) for the purposes of WP, AND
  • have a partner who is receiving either Age or DSP.

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 147 Qualification for wife pension, section 4(2) Member of a couple-general

Payment of WP overseas

WP 'entitled persons' have unlimited portability. Other WP recipients have 6 weeks portability.

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 1214 Some payments generally portable with no time limit, section 1215 Some payments generally portable with time limit, section 1221 Proportionality-WP and widB rate for entitled persons

Policy reference: SS Guide 7.1 Conditions for payment outside Australia, Application of portability rules (portability table), 7.2 Arrangements for payment outside Australia

Qualification under an international agreement

It may also be possible for the claimant to qualify for WP under the terms of an international agreement (1.1.A.120). The international agreements are found in the SS(IntAgree)Act. The requirement to be an Australian resident does NOT apply to claimants relying on international agreements.

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 7 Australian residence definitions

Policy reference: SS Guide Part 7 Portability & comparable foreign payment (CFP), Part 10 Australian Social Security Agreements

Partner of WP recipient receives DSP

If the partner of a wife pensioner is in receipt of DSP, and, upon turning age pension age, is transferred to Age, WP continues to be paid.

Partner of WP recipient receives periodic compensation payments

Prior to 20 September 2001, periodic compensation payments were, in general, treated as a direct deduction (half each) from the payments to both members of a pension couple.

From 20 September 2001 this changed. The direct deduction rules only apply to the compensation recipient, not the partner.

As a result of this change, some Age or DSP recipients may be cancelled. Certain WP recipients may be saved (i.e. not cancelled) if the change in compensation rules causes the cancellation of their partner's principle payment. For the rules governing this saving provision see

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 1185 Special provision for certain recipients of dependency-based payments

Qualification for other payments

Partners of social security pension recipients granted after 1 July 1995, who require income support, will have to qualify for a social security benefit or pension in their own right. Examples of benefits or pensions are:

  • newstart allowance
  • partner allowance
  • parenting payment
  • carer payment
  • disability support pension, or
  • age pension.

Working credit

A WP recipient, who has a working credit balance and takes up employment, is treated as being qualified for the period it takes to run down their working credit balance despite not being qualified for WP from the time their Age or DSP partner stops receiving his pension payment. This allows the recipient to benefit from their working credit balance - providing encouragement to recipients 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 their Age or DSP partner ceasing to receive a payment due to employment income) is lost, or
  • payability (other than related to the income test treatment of employment income) is lost.

Exception: WP recipients of age pension age do not have access to working credit.

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 1073J Working credit balance prevents loss of qualification in certain cases, section 1073D To whom do working credit accrual and depletion rules apply?

Policy reference: SS Guide Working credit depletion

Employment income nil rate period

If a WP recipient is qualified for an employment income nil rate period, and her Age or DSP partner becomes not payable or not qualified (for any reason), the Age or DSP partner is SUSPENDED not CANCELLED, until the WP recipient completes the employment income nil rate period. If the Age or DSP partner were to be cancelled, it would cause the WP recipient to be cancelled (no longer qualified) and over rule the entitlement to the employment income nil rate period.

If non-payment continues past the nil rate period for both the WP recipient and her partner then both payments should be cancelled.

A WP recipient who is qualified for an employment income nil rate period can have her payment resumed if she reports a fall in income sufficient for WP to be payable again. WP remains current throughout the employment income nil rate period and therefore the restriction on new grants does not apply in this situation.

Note: For the treatment of an Age recipient whose WP partner is in an employment income nil rate period, see

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 23(4A) Despite subsection (4) …, section 23(4AA) For the purposes of subsection (4A) …, section 1061ZEA Further extended qualification rule: loss of payment because of employment income

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.12 Employment income nil rate period, PCC due to employment

Multiple wives

Prior to 1 July 1995, if a recipient who was receiving Age or DSP was in a polygamous marriage, then only the wife he nominated was eligible for WP. The second and subsequent wives were required to test their qualification for an alternative payment.

Couples living apart

A woman may still be regarded as a member of a couple, and qualify for WP even though she is not physically living with her partner, as long as the separation is for:

  • a short, definable period, OR
  • an indefinite, but temporary period, caused by circumstances over which they have no control.

Example: A holiday, or illness.

Explanation: If the couple are physically living apart on a long-term basis due to the ill health of either 1 or both partners, they may be regarded as an illness-separated couple (1.1.I.04). In this case, the woman retains qualification for WP.

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 4(7) Illness separated couple

Last reviewed: 20 March 2020