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. Disaster recovery allowance (DRA) - description

Objective of DRA

DRA is a fortnightly payment paid for up to 13 weeks to eligible individuals whose income has been affected by a Part 2.23B major disaster (major disaster) (1.1.P.60). A major disaster can be a natural or non-natural disaster that occurs in Australia.

Activation of DRA

DRA becomes payable after the Minister for Emergency Management (the Minister) determines that an event is a major disaster.

The Minister has power under SSAct section 36A to determine in writing that an event is a major disaster. The Minister may determine an event to be a major disaster if the Minister is satisfied that a disaster has had such a significant impact on individuals that an Australian Government response, in the form of income support, is required and that the event was of national significance. When arriving at such a decision the Minister must take into account the following factors:

  • the number of workplaces that are disrupted, and
  • the extent to which the nature or extent of the disaster is unusual.

The Minister's determination must specify:

  • one or more areas affected by the event, or
  • one or more industries affected by the event in one or more areas.

A determination that an event is a major disaster can be made in relation to both natural and non-natural disasters, but only those occurring within Australia.

Act reference: SSAct Section 36A Part 2.23B major disaster


A claimant must satisfy all of the criteria set out in the SSAct Chapter 2, Part 2.23B, Division 1 to qualify for DRA with regards to a particular major disaster.

Act reference: SSAct Chapter 2 Part 2.23B Division 1 Qualification for DRA

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for DRA


The rate for DRA is determined by the Minister. The current determination is the Social Security (Disaster recovery allowance rate calculator) Determination 2020.

The maximum rate of DRA for claimants under 22 years of age cannot exceed the MBR of YA. The maximum rate of DRA for claimants 22 years of age or older cannot exceed the MBR of JSP.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061KC Rate of DRA

Policy reference: SS Guide Determining the rate of DRA

How DRA is paid

DRA is paid fortnightly for up to 13 weeks.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061KD Period that DRA is payable

Supplementary assistance

Receipt of DRA does not entitle the recipient to benefits which are available to recipients of social security payments.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061KE Non-receipt of social security payment

Background to DRA

DRA commenced on 1 October 2013 as a means of standardising disaster income support which had previously been provided via various ex gratia payments, including the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy (DIRS).

Last reviewed: