Waiting periods for SA

Note: SA closed to all new entrants on 20 March 2020 and ceases entirely on 20 September 2020. Those receiving SA before 20 March 2020 will continue to receive the payment for the length of their medical certificate, as long as they remain eligible. SA recipients who require income support after this time may transfer to JSP ( or another income support payment, if eligible.


This topic outlines:

  • which waiting periods apply to SA, and
  • grounds for exemption from a particular waiting period.

Waiting periods are explained in more detail in the referenced topics.

Which waiting periods apply?

Payment of SA may be delayed if the claimant has to serve one or more of the following waiting periods:

  • ordinary waiting period
  • liquid assets waiting period
  • newly arrived resident's waiting period, or
  • seasonal work preclusion period.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(1) Dictionary

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.2 Waiting & preclusion periods

Exemption from the OWP

The OWP is NOT served if ONE of the following criteria is satisfied:

  • the person is reclaiming within 13 weeks of last receiving a social security benefit or allowance
  • a partner allowee claims within 4 weeks of the day their partner dies, OR
  • the person is in severe financial hardship (1.1.S.125) and is also experiencing a personal financial crisis (1.1.P.236) because at some time in the 4 weeks immediately before the person's start day
    • they have been subjected to domestic violence
    • they incurred unavoidable or reasonable expenditure
    • the person was in gaol or psychiatric confinement
    • the person first entered Australia and was the holder of a humanitarian visa on that entry to Australia, OR
    • the person's principal place of residence was lost or sustained major damage as a result of an extreme circumstance.

Act reference: SSAct section 620 Ordinary waiting period, section 19C Severe financial hardship definitions, section 19DA(4) Other circumstances

Policy reference: SS Guide Ordinary waiting period

Exemption from the LAWP

The LAWP is NOT served if the person:

  • transfers to SA from a prescribed pension, OR
  • is claiming SA within 4 weeks of having previously received SA, OR
  • served a LAWP in the 12 months before their date of incapacity, OR
  • is in severe financial hardship because they have incurred unavoidable or reasonable expenditure.

Hardship provisions apply if the person satisfies the SpB short term available funds test. In this case the whole of the LAWP should be waived and arrears paid if necessary.

Policy reference: SS Guide Liquid assets test waiting period

Exemption from the NARWP

A person is not subject to a NARWP if the person has a QRE for SA.

New Zealand citizens

New Zealand citizens who became Australian residents after 1 February 2000 are subject to a 104 week NARWP for SA.

Note: A person must meet the basic residence requirements for payment, before the NARWP is considered (

NARWP - hardship cases

SpB may be paid during the NARWP if the person experiences a substantial change in circumstances beyond their control. The person would be paid subject to SA conditions.

Act reference: SSAct section 676 Liquid assets test waiting period, section 693 Ordinary waiting period, section 696B Newly arrived resident's waiting period, section 7(6) A person has a qualifying residence exemption …, section 7(6AA) A person also has a qualifying residence exemption …, section 16A(1)-'seasonal work preclusion period'

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.7.1 SpB - qualification & payability, Exemptions from waiting periods, 3.1.7 Seasonal Work Preclusion Period

Last reviewed: 20 March 2020