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. Special benefit (SpB) - description

What is SpB

SpB is a discretionary income support payment that provides financial assistance to people who, due to reasons beyond their control, are in financial hardship and unable to earn a sufficient livelihood for themselves and their dependants.

To receive SpB, it must be established that the person is not eligible for any other pension or allowance. The circumstances under which it is granted and the amount paid are determined by a delegate of the Secretary of the Department.

How SpB is paid

SpB is usually paid fortnightly.

Supplementary assistance

There are 2 types of supplementary assistance that recipients of SpB MAY receive. Payments that are included as part of the SpB rate and payments that are in addition to the SpB rate.

Recipients of SpB MAY receive one or more of the following as part of their SpB rate:

They MAY also be entitled to the following additional payments and concessions while receiving SpB:

  • telephone allowance ( (aged 60 to under age pension age and received income support continuously for at least 9 months)
  • HCC ( OR PCC (
  • education entry payment ( (single parents only)
  • pensioner education supplement ( (single parents only)
  • approved program of work supplement ( (nominated visa holders only).

Bereavement payment provisions

If a partner (1.1.P.85) dies, the surviving member of a couple (1.1.M.120) may be eligible for a bereavement payment. This is paid as a lump sum. It is usually equal to the combined amount the couple would have received, less the surviving member's new single rate, over a period of up to 14 weeks following a partner's death.

Act reference: SSAct section 729 Qualification for SpB

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.7.1 SpB - qualification & payability, SpB - current rates

Last reviewed: