The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Newstart allowance (NSA) - description

Note: From 20 March 2020, JSP ( replaced NSA as the main working age payment for those who are aged 22 years or older but under Age qualification age and have the capacity to work now or in the near future. Information in this topic only relates to the period prior to 20 March 2020.

What is NSA?

NSA is an income support payment that provides financial assistance to people aged 22 years or older but under age pension age who are unemployed or treated as unemployed and, unless exempted from mutual obligation requirements (3.11.5):

  • are participating in or willing to participate in approved activities and/or job search, and
  • are prepared to enter into, comply with or vary an existing Job Plan to fulfil the mutual obligation requirements (3.11).

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 23(1)-'income support payment'

How NSA is paid

NSA is calculated on a daily basis and is paid in arrears, generally in instalments of 14 days. Instalment periods of less than 14 days may be paid where a person changes their payday arrangements.

Policy reference: SS Guide 8.4 Payment methods

Supplementary assistance

Recipients receiving NSA MAY also receive one or more of the following as part of their NSA rate:

They MAY also be entitled to the following while in receipt of NSA:

Bereavement payment provisions

The surviving member of a couple may be eligible for bereavement payments following the death of a partner.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.5 Bereavement payment provisions, Continuation, variation or termination of JSP

Background information

NSA was introduced in 1991 and, with job search allowance (JSA), replaced unemployment benefit. JSA and NSA were amalgamated in September 1996.

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 593 Qualification for NSA

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.1 JSP - qualification & payability, JSP - current rates

Last reviewed: