3.9.2.30 PCC due to Employment

Introduction

Income support recipients who go onto an employment income nil rate period or lose their social security pension or benefit due to employment income may be able to retain their PCC for an extended period following the cessation of their payment.

Note: An income support recipient holding a PCC maintains qualification for the PCC while serving an 8-week non-payment period due to a participation failure.

This topic covers the following qualification subjects:

  • overview,
  • PCC continuation during an employment income nil rate period,
  • interaction with an employment income nil rate period,
  • multiple 12-week continuations,
  • PCC continuation - start date and end date,
  • PPS recipients,
  • PP recipients with a partial capacity to work,
  • 12 weeks extension - PP recipients with a partial capacity to work,
  • 12 weeks extension - single principal carers receiving NSA or YA (job seeker),
  • 12 weeks extension - PPS ceases because youngest child turns 8 years of age,
  • 26 weeks extension,
  • 26 weeks extension - start date and end date,
  • 52 weeks extension - DSP,
  • 52 weeks extension - WP (partnered DSP recipient), and
  • 52 weeks extension - PPS and PPP with a partial capacity to work due to disability.

Overview

The PCC can be continued, while the cardholder is in Australia, for 12 weeks if they cease receiving payment due to the person's, or the person's partner's, employment income during an employment income nil rate period and/or extended for 12, 26 or 52 weeks - depending on the payment and the cardholder circumstances.

A cardholder may qualify for one or a combination of these continuation and extension periods:

  • A 12-week continuation during an employment income nil rate period, is available for most payment types and aims to provide income support recipients with an incentive to take up paid work.
  • A 12-week continuation for single principal carer (1.1.P.412) NSA and YA (job seeker) recipients whose payment is cancelled due to earnings. They can then access a HCC for a further 14 weeks. The (combined) 26-week concession card extension provides single principal carers receiving NSA or YA (job seeker) with an incentive to leave payment for work.
  • PPS recipients can have a 12-week continuation of the PCC when they cease to receive PP because their youngest child turns 8 years of age. To access this, a person who ceases to receive PPS must still qualify, apart from the requirement to have a PP child.
  • PPP recipients (who claimed and were granted payment on or after 1 July 2006) who have a partial work capacity due to disability can have a 12-week continuation of the PCC if they cease receiving payment due to the person's, or the person's partner's, employment income. To access this, a person who leaves benefit PP must still qualify for PP except for the requirement to have a PP child (e.g. if the child leaves care or turns 16).
  • A 26-week extension is available to long-term recipients of social security benefits and provides an incentive to take up paid work.
  • DSP recipients and those who have a partial capacity to work on NSA, YA (job seeker) and PP (Note: PP recipients must have claimed and been granted payment on or after 1 July 2006) who lose qualification for payment due to an increase in the person's ordinary income from employment can have a 52-week retention of the PCC. This provides an incentive for people with disabilities to participate in the workforce.

Note: Concession cards generally have a limited non-cancellation period of 6 weeks while the cardholder is temporarily outside Australia. A person's qualification for the concession card is not affected by an absence within this period.

The following table provides an overview of the PCC continuation and extension provisions with SSAct references.

Payment Type Employment income nil rate period - 12-week card extension Payment cessation card extension
NSA and YA (job seeker) - single principal carer recipients No - not eligible if they return to full-time work (i.e. not entitled to employment income nil rate period as they do not QUALIFY for NSA or YA (job seeker)).

Yes - can keep PCC for 12 weeks (section 1061ZEA(2)(ga)(iia) and (iib)).

If they have been receiving income support for 52 weeks, they can get a HCC for 26 weeks. The HCC extension runs concurrently with the PCC extension.

In effect, they keep their PCC for 12 weeks then get a HCC for a further 14 weeks (section 1061ZM(1BA)).

Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for NSA or YA (job seeker) but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA).
NSA and YA (job seeker) - recipients with partial capacity to work No - not eligible if they return to full-time work (i.e. not entitled to employment income nil rate period as they do not QUALIFY for NSA or YA (job seeker)) (section 1061ZEB). Yes - can keep PCC for 52 weeks (section 1061ZEB).
NSA - recipients aged over 60 years and on payment for 39 weeks or more No - not eligible if they return to full-time work (i.e. not entitled to employment income nil rate period as they do not QUALIFY for NSA) (section 1061ZC). Yes - can keep PCC for 26 weeks (section 1061ZC).
Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for NSA or YA (job seeker) but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). Yes - can keep PCC for 26 weeks (starts after the 12-week extension) (section 1061ZC).
People aged over 60 years and on payment for 39 weeks or more getting PA, WA, PPP or SA Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). Yes - can keep PCC for 26 weeks (starts after the 12-week extension) (section 1061ZC).
Special benefit No - not eligible for an employment income nil rate period. Yes - can keep PCC for 26 weeks (section 1061ZC).
Parenting payment (single) Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). Yes - PPS can get a HCC for 26 weeks if they have been on payment for 52 weeks. This runs concurrently with 12-week PCC extensions. In effect, they keep their PCC for 12 weeks then get a HCC for a further 14 weeks (section 1061ZM).
PPS or PPP - recipients with a partial capacity to work

Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment (excluding the requirement to have a PP child) but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA).

Note: The 12-week continuation of the PCC on the basis of the PP recipient having a partial capacity to work due to disability is only available to PP recipients who claimed and were granted PP on or after 1 July 2006.

Yes - PPS and PPP recipients with a partial capacity to work due to disability can get a 52-week extension of the PCC (runs concurrently with the 12-week continuation) if they lose qualification for payment due to an increase in the person's ordinary income from employment. This only applies if the person had a PCC prior to cessation of their payment as a result of having a partial capacity to work due to disability.

Note: The 52-week extension of the PCC on the basis of the PP recipient having a partial capacity to work due to disability is only available to PP recipients who claimed and were granted payment on or after 1 July 2006.

Parenting payment (single) Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). PPS recipients can get a PCC for 12 weeks when their payment ceases because of their youngest child turning 8 years of age (section 1061ZDA).
Age pension Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). No
Carer payment Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment (e.g. they must work no more than 25 hours per week) but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). No
Widow B pension Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). No
Bereavement allowance Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). No
Disability support pension Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment but they have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). Yes - can keep PCC for 52 weeks (runs concurrently with the 12-week extension) (section 1061ZD).
WP - DSP partner Yes - if the DSP PARTNER has a job and is eligible for the employment income nil rate period (section 1061ZEA). Yes - if the DSP partner has the job, the wife pensioner (and the DSP partner) can keep their PCC for 52 weeks (runs concurrently with the 12-week extension) (section 1061ZE).
Yes - if the WIFE PENSIONER has a job, provided that they still meet the qualification rules for their payment but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). No
WP - Age partner (either partner has a job) Yes - if they still meet the qualification rules for their payment but have a nil rate because of employment income (section 1061ZEA). No

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZUB Non-cancellation of concession cards for temporary overseas absences, section 1061ZEA Further extended qualification rule: loss of payment because of employment income, section 1061ZEB Extended qualification rule: persons with a partial capacity to work, section 1061ZC Extended qualification rule: long-term recipient of social security benefits, section 1061ZM Qualification for health care card: employment-affected person, section 1061ZD Extended qualification rule: former recipient of DSP, section 1061ZE Extended qualification rule: former recipient of WP

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.9.2.10 Qualification for PCC, 3.9.4.20 Non-cancellation of Concession Cards for Temporary Overseas Absences

PCC continuation during employment income nil rate period

A person is qualified to retain their PCC for 12 weeks after the end of the instalment period in which the nil rate began if:

  • the person's rate of payment of the pension or benefit is worked out with regard to the income test module of a rate calculator in SSAct Chapter 3, and
  • a payment ceases to be payable to the person because of the employment income of the person or their partner, and
  • but for the employment income the person would have continued to be qualified for a PCC, because the payment would continue to be payable to the person.

Example 1: Jack, a disability support pensioner and his wife Mary, a wife pensioner have some investment income. Mary obtains a job and the income from her employment as well as their other ordinary income precludes the couple from receiving their pensions after their working credits have been exhausted. Both are entitled to keep their PCC for 12 weeks after their pensions go to nil rate.

Note: They do not get to keep their PCCs for 52 weeks, as it was NOT the DSP recipient who got the job.

Example 2: Daphne is 61 years old and has been on NSA for 10 months. She starts a full-time job, so is no longer unemployed. She does not qualify for the 12-week PCC continuation because she is no longer qualified for NSA due to her employment.

Note: People who lose qualification for their payments due to their employment are not eligible for a 12-week PCC continuation.

Interaction with employment income nil rate period

It would frequently be the case that when a person qualifies to keep their PCC for 12 weeks, they will also qualify for an employment income nil rate period, during which time they can keep some supplementary benefits and get back on payment more easily. However, NSA and YA (job seeker) recipients cease to qualify for those payments when they enter ongoing full-time employment. Their payment is cancelled, in these circumstances, after the day on which their working credit balance is reduced to zero. They do not have an employment income nil rate period but are entitled to extended concession card provisions as set out in the table above.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZEA Further extended qualification rule: loss of payment because of employment income, section 1061ZM(1BA) Qualification for health care card: employment-affected person

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.12 Employment Income Nil Rate Period

Multiple 12-week extensions

There is NO limit on the number of times the PCC can be extended provided they meet the eligibility criteria each time. For a cardholder to qualify for a second or subsequent PCC continuation they must have returned to their social security payment and again had employment income that makes their income support not payable.

PCC continuation - start date & end date

The start date is the day after the recipient's social security pension or benefit reduces to nil. If a recipient has working credits, the start date is after the working credits have run down to zero, not from the commencement or increase of employment income that caused the payment to be no longer payable. The end date is 12 weeks after the end of the entitlement period in which the recipient's social security pension or benefit stops. In effect the period that is referred to as 12 weeks could run for up to almost 14 weeks.

PPS recipients

PPS recipients may be eligible for a concession card extension of up to 26 weeks when their payment ceases to be payable due to their employment income. As the continuation and the extension both start from the date that PPS is no longer payable and run concurrently it means that the person will have a PCC for the nil rate period and then a HCC for the remainder of the 26-week extension period.

Exception: If a PPS recipient loses qualification because they no longer have a dependent child in their care this event does not affect qualification for the 12-week PCC extension.

Example: Julie has been on PPS for 18 months and has obtained 2 months employment as a contract worker with the public service. Her payment was reduced to nil after her working credits were exhausted and she is able to retain her PCC. Two weeks after commencing employment, her child Zara left her care to live with her father. Julie is able to continue to retain her PCC for the full 12-week period.

Act reference: SSAct 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

PP recipients with a partial capacity to work

PP recipients (who claimed and were granted payment on or after 1 July 2006) can access the PCC if they have a partial capacity to work due to disability. This additional support is consistent with that received by DSP recipients or NSA recipients who have a partial capacity to work due to disability.

12 weeks extension - PP recipients with a partial capacity to work

PP recipients (who claimed and were granted payment on or after 1 July 2006) who have a partial capacity to work and enter a 12-week employment nil rate period can retain the PCC for the 12 weeks provided the nil rate period is due to their employment income or that of their partner. In this case the person must remain qualified for PP, apart from the requirement to have a PP child.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZEA Further extended qualification rule: loss of payment because of employment income

12 weeks extension - single principal carer NSA & YA (job seeker)

In line with the treatment of PPS recipients, NSA and YA (job seeker) recipients who are single principal carers can have their PCC extended for 12 weeks following the date:

  • of cancellation of payment where they are no longer qualified for the income support payment because they are not unemployed, OR
  • of commencement of the 12-week nil rate period, where they remain qualified for payment but it is not payable because of employment income.

They then qualify for a HCC for the remainder of the 26-week period following the date from which their payment ceased to be payable.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZEA Further extended qualification rule: loss of payment because of employment income, section 1061ZM(1B) Qualification for health care card-employment-affected person

12 weeks extension - PPS ceases when youngest child turns 8 years of age

PPS recipients can access a 12-week continuation of the PCC when they cease to receive PP because their youngest child turns 8 years of age provided they would have continued to receive PPS, apart from the requirement to have a PP child.

Consistent with other extended concession card qualification provisions, an extension will cease if the person moves permanently overseas or until they start to receive an income support payment for which a PCC is available.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZDA Extended qualification rule: former recipient…

26 weeks extension

Long-term recipients of social security benefits (those who are aged 60 years or older and have been in continuous receipt of a social security benefit for at least the preceding 39 weeks) can retain their PCC for a further 26 weeks. A person qualifies if:

  • the person and/or their partner are still employed or have employment income which precludes their payment after they have already kept the PCC for the whole or part of the 12-week continuation, OR
  • the person loses qualification for their payment because their employment is full-time and they are not entitled to the 12-week continuation.

26 weeks extension - start date & end date

If eligible for the 26-week extension, in the case where a person:

  • IS entitled to a 12-week continuation, the 26-week extension starts on the day after the 12-week continuation finishes and ceases 26 weeks later,
  • IS NOT entitled to the 12-week continuation, the PCC is kept from the date their rate of payment is reduced to nil (i.e. after any working credits have been used) and ceases 26 weeks later.

The time a person spends on the 12-week continuation counts towards the qualifying period of receipt requirement for the 26-week extension.

Note: Residence requirements do not apply to people covered by the provisions of the reciprocal Social Security Agreement with New Zealand.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZC Extended qualification rule: long-term recipient of social security benefits

SS(IntAgree)Act Schedule 3 New Zealand

52 weeks extension - DSP

PCC entitlement continues for 12 months from the date a person ceases to be qualified for DSP due to commencing work of at least 15 hours a week, or if DSP ceases to be payable due to an increase in the person's income from employment. Entitlement to the PCC during the 12 month extension period is NOT affected by any further increase in the income of the person or their partner (1.1.P.85).

There is NO limit on the number of times the PCC can be extended under SSAct section 1061ZD.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZD Extended qualification rule: former recipient of DSP

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.6.1 DSP - Qualification & Payability

52 weeks extension - WP (partner of DSP recipient)

Where a person has been receiving WP and their partner has been receiving DSP, the person may continue to be eligible for the PCC if they cease to qualify for WP because:

  • the person's PARTNER commences employment of at least 30 hours per week, or
  • the person's PARTNER has an increase in ordinary income from employment.

The person continues to be qualified for the PCC for 52 weeks after the commencement of the employment.

52 weeks extension - NSA & YA (job seeker) with partial capacity to work

PCC entitlement continues for 12 months from the date a cardholder with partial capacity to work (1.1.P.65) ceases to be qualified for NSA or YA (job seeker) due to employment income.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZE Extended qualification rule: former recipient of WP, section 1061ZEB Extended qualification rule: persons with a partial capacity to work

52 weeks extension - PP recipient with partial capacity to work

PPS or PPP recipients (who claimed and were granted payment on or after 1 July 2006) who have a partial capacity to work due to disability and who lose qualification for payment due to an increase in the person's ordinary income from employment can have a 52-week retention of the PCC as long as when the person would otherwise cease to qualify for the PCC they have a partial capacity to work.

Note: When a PP recipient with a partial capacity to work due to disability qualifies for a 12-week PCC continuation (during a nil rate period), that PCC continuation period will be concurrent with the 52-week PCC extension period.

Example: Lisa claimed PPS on 23 November 2006 and has an assessed partial capacity to work due to disability. Lisa loses qualification for payment due to her income from employment. Lisa can keep the PCC for 52 weeks.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZEB Extended qualification rule: persons with a partial capacity to work

Last reviewed: 20 March 2019