8.4.2.10 Urgent Payments

Summary

An urgent payment is a payment of part of an instalment in advance of the usual instalment day to a recipient who is already receiving a payment. An urgent payment is to be contrasted with a hardship advance payment or an advance payment. A hardship advance payment is an amount of a recipient's first instalment of social security payment that is paid at grant, or the first instalment immediately following resumption of payment, to assist people in severe financial hardship, including those recently released from prison. An advance payment is the early delivery of a recipient's entitlement. There are particular criteria that apply to advance payments, and these vary depending on the payment the person is receiving. Qualification criteria are fully explained in the policy references below.

This topic contains information on:

  • the definition of urgent payment,
  • issues to consider before making an urgent payment, and
  • special circumstances.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 43 Payment by instalments, section 44 Payment of instalments to person or nominee

Policy reference: SS Guide 5.4.1.10 Qualification for Certain Benefits & PPS Advance Payments, 8.4.2.20 Hardship Advance Payment

Definition of urgent payment

An urgent payment is an early delivery of a recipient's entitlement, which is made because the recipient is in severe financial hardship as a result of exceptional and unforeseen circumstances.

Urgent payments result in a lower subsequent payment on the recipient's usual payment delivery day (1.1.D.55).

Generally, a person can only receive a maximum of 2 urgent payments in any 12 month period. Limited exceptions to this may include the following:

  • Extraordinary circumstances - to ensure the protection of vulnerable people, where extraordinary circumstances can be verified.
  • Expenses associated with the funeral of an immediate family member, including extended family members for Indigenous people.
  • Departmental delay, action or lack of action by DHS which delayed the receipt of income support payments and caused the person to be in severe financial hardship.
  • Holiday processing, where a person's regular payment is delayed due to the timing of a national public holiday.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 43 Payment by instalments, section 44 Payment of instalments to person or nominee

Issues to consider before making an urgent payment

The recipient needs to demonstrate they are in severe financial hardship due to exceptional and unforeseen circumstances before an urgent payment is made.

Verification of the reasons that a recipient has requested an urgent payment should be sought where appropriate.

Delegates must make the following decisions when considering requests for urgent payment of pensions, benefits or allowances:

  • whether alternative assistance will alleviate the hardship, and
  • whether an urgent payment should be made.

The delegate should always attempt to facilitate an alternative form of assistance for the recipient before an urgent payment is paid.

Special circumstances

Delegates need to consider the impact of making urgent payments to some recipients.

Example: Those with a psychiatric or intellectual disability may not understand the ramifications of receiving an urgent payment, i.e. an urgent payment will result in a lower subsequent payment on the recipient's usual payment delivery day.

Last reviewed: 31 May 2017