5.1.8.20 Common benefit rates

Applicable benefits

This topic shows the maximum rates for the following benefits:

  • newstart allowance
  • partner allowance
  • sickness allowance
  • special benefit
  • widow allowance, and
  • parenting payment (partnered).

Benefit rates

This table shows the basic rates in dollars per fortnight (pf) as at 20 September 2019*.

Recipient status Rate ($ pf)
Single no children 22 or over 559.00
Single with children - 604.70
Single no children 60 or over after 9 months 604.70

Single principal carer with activity test exemption EITHER:

  • because of caring for large family or foster children, OR
  • who is a home or distance educator of child/ren in their care.
with children - 780.70#
Partnered without children - 504.70
Partnered with children - 504.70
Partnered - illness separated couple (1.1.I.04), respite care couple (1.1.R.240), or partner in gaol (1.1.P.85) 604.70

Example of single with children: NSA recipient with dependent YA child under 18 years.

*The maximum rate of payment may be higher if the person is eligible for supplementary payments (see below) in addition to the basic rate.

# This amount is equal to the maximum rate of PPS, including pension supplement, and is payable to NSA recipients who have an activity test exemption under subsections 602C(3) and 602C(3A). Recipients may be eligible for such an exemption if:

  • they are a registered and active foster carer of a child, or children, for whom they are a principal carer, OR
  • they are the principal carer of a large family (4 or more children under 16 years of age), OR
  • they are a home educator of a child, or children, for whom they are the principal carer, OR
  • they are a distance educator of a child, or children, for whom they are the principal carer.

Act reference: SSAct section 602C(3) Relief from activity test-people with disabled children and other circumstances, section 602C(3A) The Secretary must make a determination under this section in relation to the person if …, section 1068 Rate of WA, NSA (18 or over), SA (18 or over), PA and MAA under Part 2.12B, section 1068-B5 Maximum basic rate for certain newstart allowance recipients

Policy reference: SS Guide 5.1.4.10 PP - Current Rates, 3.7.1.80 Determining the Rate of SpB

Qualification for the 'with child' rate of payment where a person has at least 14% care of at least 1 child

For the purpose of this section, a child must be under 16 years of age.

Benefits are paid at a higher rate for single recipients with at least 1 dependent child. Alternatively, single recipients can qualify in certain circumstances for the 'with child' rate of payment where they do not have a dependent child but do have at least 14% care of a child over a relevant assessment period. While this provides for the MBR of payment to a person as if they had a dependent child, in all other respects, the person should NOT be considered to have a dependent child.

This provision to access the 'with child' rate of payment in certain circumstances applies to the following benefits which are covered in this topic:

  • newstart allowance, and
  • sickness allowance.

To determine if a person should qualify for the 'with child' rate of payment where they have at least 14% care of a child despite not having a dependent child see 1.1.D.70.

Act reference: SSAct section 1068-B1B Certain children treated as dependent children if …

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.D.70 Dependent child

Indexation (1.1.I.100) of benefit rates

These rates are indexed to changes in the CPI, other than as specified below in relation to single principal carers with an activity test exemption, who receive a rate equal to the maximum rate of PPS, including pension supplement.

The effective dates of indexation are 20 March and 20 September each year. The March indexation is based on the CPI change from June to December preceding the indexation date. The September indexation is based on the CPI change from December to June preceding the indexation date. If CPI fell in the period special rules apply.

Act reference: SSAct Part 3.16 Indexation and adjustments of amounts

Indexation of PPS (5.1.8.50)

The MBR component of PPS is indexed to the higher amount resulting from:

  • changes to the CPI, OR
  • 25% of the annualised MTAWE.

The pension supplement component is indexed to changes in the CPI. The effective dates of indexation are 20 March and 20 September each year.

Timing of payments

Payments are made fortnightly in arrears.

Supplementary benefits

Benefit recipients may be eligible for ES, RA, PhA and/or RAA.

Energy supplement

Benefit recipients may be eligible for the ES - a tax exempt supplementary payment for qualified recipients of income support payments.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.15.2 ES - Qualification & Payability, 5.1.10.20 ES - Current Rates

Partnered recipient treated as a single recipient

SSAct section 24 enables a partnered recipient to be deemed NOT to be a member of a couple (1.1.M.120) for all purposes of the Act. The application of this provision is at the discretion of a delegate, and is explained in the referenced topic.

Example: A NSA recipient with a partner who is serving a NARWP (1.1.N.70) may be deemed NOT to be a member of a couple, which means the NSA recipient may be treated as a single person.

Act reference: SSAct section 24 Person may be treated as not being a member of a couple

Policy reference: SS Guide 2.2.5.50 Discretion to Treat a Person as Not Being a Member of a Couple for a Special Reason

Partnered, one under age of consent

If a benefit recipient is living in a member of a couple relationship with a person of the same sex or opposite sex and one or both partners are under the age of consent in the state in which they live, they are not classified as partnered. However, the rate payable is not to exceed the rate payable if they were partnered. This means the rate is the partnered rate. The income and assets tests apply to all benefit recipients in this situation as though they were a couple.

A PP recipient in this situation is paid PPS but the rate is not to exceed what would be payable under PPP. The person would be eligible for supplementary payments and concession cards available to recipients of PPS.

Act reference: SSAct section 4(1)-'member of a couple', section 1068(2) If a person has a relationship …, section 1068A(3) If a person has a relationship with another person, whether of the same sex or a different sex …

Partnered (illness separated, respite care, partner in gaol)

A benefit recipient, including a partnered PP recipient, who is a member of an illness separated couple or has a partner in gaol, is normally paid at the higher single with dependent child maximum basic benefit rate but the income and assets tests apply as they normally would to a couple.

A benefit recipient who is a member of a respite care couple is to be treated in the same way as a member of an illness separated couple.

The following provision also applies:

  • RA is payable at the single rate, using the single person's rent threshold, to each non-homeowner partner who is otherwise eligible.

Where both partners reside in supported accommodation such as a shared unit in a hostel (1.1.H.90), illness separated provisions apply.

Explanation: Hostel fees are calculated as a percentage of the single pension rate.

Illness separated rate cannot be paid to a couple who are co-habiting under familial care arrangements. However, where one partner is in familial care and the other resides elsewhere, illness separated provisions apply subject to satisfactory evidence being provided that care is required.

Act reference: SSAct section 1068B-C2 Maximum basic rate - benefit PP (partnered), section 1068 Rate of WA, NSA (18 or over), SA (18 or over), PA and MAA under Part 2.12B

Policy reference: SS Guide 2.2.5.60 Determining an Illness Separated Couple

Last reviewed: 20 September 2019