22.214.171.124 SpB for young people under 18 years of age
A young person under 18 years of age is still required to meet the usual provisions for SpB. As with all claims for SpB, every avenue of support should be explored and exhausted before the claim is granted.
A young person under 18 years would generally not qualify for SpB unless they were regarded as independent under one of the following YA independent categories:
- parents cannot exercise responsibilities,
- unreasonable to live at home,
- member of a couple,
- person with a dependent child, and
- person in state care.
Policy reference: SS Guide 126.96.36.199 Special benefit (SpB) - description, 188.8.131.52 SpB for Australian citizen children & Australian permanent resident children in the custody of a non-permanent resident, 3.2.5 YA, DSP & SpB for independent young people
Social worker involvement
Any young person under 18 years who is unable to live at home due to severe family breakdown, abuse or other exceptional circumstances should be referred to a social worker. The social worker will then assess whether it is unreasonable for the young person to live at home. The social worker may also provide further support, such as referral to appropriate services.
Referral to a state/territory welfare department
State/territory welfare departments are responsible for the care and protection of children under 16 years of age and young people aged 16 and 17 years.
Social workers should refer a young person to a state/territory welfare department for a protective assessment of their needs IF they are:
- under 15 years of age and homeless or unsupported,
- under 18 years and in the guardianship, care or custody of a state/territory welfare department, OR
- aged 15 to 17 years (inclusive) and considered to be at risk of abuse, serious harm or violence.
SpB should ONLY be paid to a young person under 15 years if, after completion of the protective assessment, the state/territory welfare department does NOT intend to provide support to the young person, or the delegate has determined that the support provided by the state/territory welfare department is inadequate. The young person must still meet all eligibility requirements for SpB. Accordingly, the claim commencement date is based on standard contact rules and start date provisions.
SpB should ONLY be paid to a young person aged under 18 years and in the guardianship, care or custody of a state/territory welfare department if the young person is not receiving or is unable to receive adequate support from a state/territory welfare department. A young person who is receiving or is able to receive adequate support from a state/territory welfare department is ineligible to receive SpB as the young person has access to another means of support.
SpB may be paid to a young person aged 15 to 17 years (inclusive) who is considered by the delegate to be at risk of abuse, serious harm or violence prior to the completion of a protective assessment by a state/territory welfare department.
Explanation: Although the Commonwealth and state/territory Youth Protocol is no longer in force, the principles still apply. State/territory welfare departments are generally responsible for the financial support of independent young people under 15 years and young people who are subject to a guardianship, care or custody order.
Definition of adequate support
Adequate support is taken to be the provision of food, shelter, clothing and utilities that is sufficient enough to meet the needs of the young person. The delegate should use their discretion in deciding whether the support is adequate taking into account the individual circumstances of the young person.
A young person under 18 years may undertake full-time study and still receive SpB. However, full-time students under 16 years must also be an SpB homeless person in order to be eligible. The requirement to be an SpB homeless person does not apply to full-time students aged 16 and 17 years.
A full-time student under 16 years can be considered an SpB homeless person if living with a parent who is judged to be homeless or at severe risk of homelessness and has no adequate means of supporting the child.
Explanation: The criteria for homelessness in SSAct section 739, only applies to young people who are full-time students under 16 years of age.
Act reference: SSAct section 738 Payments under certain education schemes, section 739 SPB homeless person, section 1067A(9) When a person is regarded as independent
Policy reference: SS Guide 184.108.40.206 Qualification for SpB, 3.2.3 YA - qualification & payability, 3.2.5 YA, DSP & SpB for independent young people, 220.127.116.11 SpB for Australian citizen children & Australian permanent resident children in the custody of a non-permanent resident
Young people who turn 16 years of age
If SpB is granted to a young person under 16 years, their qualification for YA must be considered when they reach 16 years of age.
Explanation: An independent young person 16 years of age may qualify for YA. The young person would be expected to lodge a claim for YA as soon as possible.
If a claim for YA has not been lodged within 4 weeks of turning 16 years of age, payment of SpB would normally be cancelled unless there are exceptional reasons for not lodging the YA claim.
Factors to consider for young people under 18 years
The delegate should consider the issues in the following table when determining whether payment of SpB is appropriate.
|If the young person is…||Then…|
|a dependent child (1.1.D.70),||
someone else, other than a partner, may be eligible for a pension, allowance, benefit or FTB for the child.
Explanation: A dependent child under 16 years of age CANNOT meet the criteria for SpB.
|in the guardianship, care or custody of a state/territory welfare department, including foster care,||
SpB should only be granted if a state/territory welfare department is not providing adequate support or the young person is required to contribute to this support.
Explanation: State/territory welfare departments are responsible for the support of young people in their care.
|eligible for support from a state/territory welfare department but chooses not to accept the support,||
SpB should not be granted as the young person has a means of support regardless of whether they choose to accept it.
Explanation: A person does not qualify for SpB if another means of support is available.
|an unaccompanied humanitarian minor (UHM) who holds a TPV or Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV),||
SpB should not be granted to a young person under 16 years as the young person is being fully supported by a state/territory welfare department.
SpB should only be granted to a young person aged 16 years and over if a state/territory welfare department is not providing adequate support or the young person is required to contribute to this support.
Explanation: UHMs are placed in the guardianship of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and are supported by contracted service providers and/or state/territory welfare departments.
|receiving free board and lodging,||it may be appropriate to reduce the rate of SpB.|
|under 15 years and independent,||SpB should only be granted after a state/territory welfare department has conducted a protective assessment and does not intend to provide support to the young person.|
Determining the rate of payment
The following table provides the appropriate rate of payment for a single young person under 18 years of age who does not have a dependent child and who is not an Australian resident child in the care of a non-resident parent.
|Situation||Rate of payment|
|Receiving adequate support and the young person is not financially contributing to this support.||SpB should not be granted as the young person has a means of support.|
|Receiving support but the support is either inadequate or the young person is financially contributing to this support (see example).||Aged under 18, at home YA rate|
|Not receiving any support||Aged under 18, away from home rate of YA|
Example: A young person, under 18 years of age, is in the care of a state/territory welfare services provider. The provider offers support to the young person and provides a $60 a week allowance for groceries to assist them to learn to budget and shop for themselves, and while they provide accommodation, the young person is required to contribute by paying part rent (usually set at 60% of their income support payments).
- The direct deduction income test should not apply to a young person who is provided with partial support from a state/territory welfare department.
- In-kind support, such as meals, should not be deducted from the young person's payment (this is to ensure the same rule is applied regardless of whether the support is provided in cash or through other means).
- Although the young person is contributing towards rent, RA should not be paid. This is consistent with YA recipients being ineligible for RA while living at home and paying board.