Continuation, variation or termination of WP

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


The following table lists the circumstances in which payment of WP may change.

Payment of WP is … if …
  • the recipient or her partner dies, OR
  • the recipient or her partner is paid another social security or DVA income support payment, OR
  • the recipient and her partner separate and are living apart on a long term basis, OR
  • the recipient's partner no longer receives Age or DSP, OR
  • the rate becomes nil due to the recipient's or their partner's income or assets (and suspension is not appropriate - see below), OR
  • the recipient or their partner is confined in a remand centre, prison or psychiatric confinement, for MORE than 3 months, OR
  • the recipient reaches the age pension age for women and is transferred to Age, OR
  • the recipient fails to take reasonable action to obtain a CFP (1.1.C.230), OR
  • the pension becomes not payable for other reasons.
  • the delegate determines that the payment is to be suspended, OR
    • Example: The recipient or their partner has a short period of employment or increased earnings.
  • the recipient or their partner is confined in a remand centre, prison or psychiatric confinement, for LESS than 3 months.

Where necessary, these circumstances are explained in more detail in the rest of this topic.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(5C) A women born within the period specified …

Suspension during short periods of employment

If a WP recipient or their partner undertakes a continuous period of employment of up to 3 months, then payment should be suspended so that WP can be restored on cessation of employment.

Suspension should only occur if earnings and other income combined would yield a nil rate of payment. For longer periods of employment, payment should be cancelled. In such cases, another payment will need to be sought upon cessation of employment.

Restoration after suspension

The delegate should ensure that qualification and payability of the payment are correct before restoring a suspended payment.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 80 Cancellation or suspension determination, section 81 Cancellation or suspension for non-compliance with certain notices, section 82 Cancellation or suspension for failure to take action to obtain foreign payment

Policy reference: SS Guide Payability of WP

Automatic transfer to Age

A recipient may indicate that there is some reason why she would prefer to remain on WP when she reaches age pension age. The automatic transfer to Age can be prevented, however, if a wife pensioner is automatically transferred on reaching age pension age, WP cannot usually be restored.

Explanation: If a recipient is receiving WP and the Secretary decides that they are to be automatically transferred to Age, then it becomes payable without the need for a claim.

Where a recipient is automatically transferred to Age by a computer program approved by the Secretary, it is taken to be a decision by the Secretary that the recipient is to be transferred to Age. Because Age has become payable to the recipient, SS(Admin)Act section 90 operates to make WP no longer payable.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(5B) A women born before 1 July 1935 …

SS(Admin)Act section 12 Deemed claim in certain cases, section 90 Automatic cancellation-transfer to new payment type

Appeals against transfer

However, if an Age recipient requests that her WP payment be restored, the delegate MAY review the decision to transfer the payment, and restore WP if the request is received within 13 weeks of being notified of the transfer to Age.

Example: A WP recipient who is in receipt of PES would be financially disadvantaged if transferred to Age, as PES is not payable to Age recipients.

Transfer to DSP

A WP recipient can transfer to DSP if she fulfils the medical qualifications, AND satisfies the residence test.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.6.1 DSP - Qualification & Payability

Payment of WP to partners of DVA disability pensioners

A wife pensioner whose partner receives both an Age payment and a DVA disability pension can choose to receive her social security wife pension through DVA. She can transfer between Centrelink or DVA at any time.

Both members of a couple do not need to be paid by the same organisation.

Example: The recipient's age pensioner partner could choose to receive Age from DVA and the recipient could choose to receive WP from Centrelink.

Explanation: This arrangement was commenced by DVA on 26 March 1998. WP paid by DVA continues to be administered under the Social Security Law and in accordance with the guidelines set by DSS. A MOU between DVA and DSS sets out the responsibilities of each party.

Death of recipient

Upon application payments accrued by the person before their death may be paid to another person who, in the Secretary's opinion, is best entitled.

The recipient's partner MAY also qualify for some bereavement assistance.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 58 Payment of social security payment after death

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.5 Bereavement payment provisions

Death of a partner

When a WP recipient's partner dies, the recipient qualifies for bereavement assistance in the form of either a continuation of WP for a 14-week bereavement period, OR BVA.

If the surviving partner has at least one dependent child less than 8 years old, the recipient will be automatically transferred to PP without the need for a claim.

Act reference: SSAct section 500 Qualification for parenting payment

SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 188(1) Qualification for payments under this Subdivision

SS(Admin)Act section 12 Deemed claim in certain cases

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.4.9 BVA - qualification & payability

Review of WP

A WP recipient's qualification is reviewed in the same way and at the same time as her partner's qualification for Age or DSP.

Policy reference: SS Guide 6.1 Changes in Income & Assets - Reviews

Last reviewed: 20 March 2020