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 intended only as a guide to social security payments. 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. Application of waiting periods


Recipients may be qualified for a particular payment or benefit, but may have to serve a waiting period before they can be paid. Subject to qualification for the payment or benefit, the recipient can be paid from the expiration of the waiting period. There are a number of different waiting and preclusion periods that may or may not apply to a particular payment or benefit.

Explanation: Waiting and preclusion periods are generally applied because recipients are expected to use their funds to support themselves, before receiving Government support.

Example: Money in the bank and/or lump sum payments received on termination of employment are examples of funds a recipient would be expected to use first.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'waiting period'

Concurrent waiting periods

If more than one waiting period applies to a recipient, the payment or benefit is not payable until ALL the waiting periods have ended. In these cases, if the waiting periods are served concurrently, the end date is the day on which the longest period ends.

Example: Since 1 January 2019, PP has both a qualifying residence period of 104 weeks and a NARWP of 208 weeks. The NARWP only applies to people who are granted a permanent visa on or after 1 January 2019. Where both apply, these 2 waiting periods are served concurrently and a person is not eligible for payment until both periods are served. Generally, if a person has a QRE to the qualifying residence period, they will also be exempt from the NARWP for that payment.

Note: A person who was a holder of a permanent visa in Australia before 1 January 2019 will not serve a NARWP for PP but will still be subject to the qualifying residence period unless they have a QRE.

Exception: If a person is subject to one or more waiting periods or preclusion periods, then the OWP starts on the day after all the periods have ended. The OWP cannot be served concurrently with other relevant waiting periods and preclusion periods. However, for people subject to the IMP, the OWP will commence when the person's rate of payment will become payable at a rate greater than nil (unless one or more other waiting periods still apply).

Specific details about which waiting periods apply to a particular payment or benefit, and their relationship with any non-payment or rate reduction periods are located in the relevant payment or benefit topic in Part 3.

Policy reference: SS Guide Liquid assets test waiting period, Treatment of liquid assets, Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP), Exemptions from the NARWP, Ordinary waiting period, Other waiting periods for JSP & YA


Some payments or benefits are also subject to the IMP. This is not a waiting period, although recipients subject to the IMP may incur periods of non-payment. The IMP is explained further in the referenced topic.

Policy reference: SS Guide 4.3.4 Income maintenance period

Waiver of waiting periods

Recipients in severe financial hardship (1.1.S.125) can have certain waiting or preclusion periods waived, in part or full, as indicated in the following table:

Name of period Details of waiver
Liquid assets test waiting period Part or full
Ordinary waiting period Full

The recipient may claim for a waiver on severe financial hardship grounds, at claim or while serving a waiting period. The waiver should take effect from the date the recipient claimed severe financial hardship. A waiver from the OWP on the basis of severe financial hardship will only apply if the person is also experiencing a personal financial crisis.

These provisions also apply to JSP incapacitated recipients. The claim can then be backdated to date of incapacity if the backdating provisions are met.

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.P.236 Personal financial crisis - OWP, 1.1.S.125 Severe financial hardship - OWP, SWPP, LAWP, IMP

Unavoidable or reasonable expenditure

Unavoidable or reasonable expenditure by a recipient serving a waiting period includes the day-to-day cost of living, (referred to as the reasonable cost of living) for that part of the waiting period already served, plus other unavoidable or reasonable expenditure.

A recipient's reasonable cost of living does not have to be justified with receipts. The reasonable cost of living is an amount deemed by the delegate to be appropriate to the recipient's circumstances. The deemed amount cannot be exceeded.

Reasonable cost of living is capped at what the recipient would receive had they not been serving the waiting period. Therefore, income can reduce the amount allowed for a recipient's reasonable cost of living.

Act reference: SSAct section 598(5) If the Secretary is satisfied that a person is in severe financial hardship …

Exemption from waiting periods

Recipients can be exempted from some waiting periods in specified circumstances. Reasons for exemption are explained in the referenced topic.

Policy reference: SS Guide Exemptions from waiting periods, Exemptions from the NARWP

Last reviewed: