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. Payability of PA

Note: PA ceased on 1 January 2022. The following information is for historical purposes only.


Even though a recipient is qualified, PA is NOT payable to them in the circumstances listed in the following table. If more detail about the circumstance is required, the second column indicates where you will find this.

Circumstance More detail
PA is NOT payable
The recipient does not satisfy the income or assets test. This topic

The recipient is serving:

This topic
Allowance is not payable before the start day. 8.3 Start days
All the general payability provisions. 3.1.6 General payability provisions

The following other factors affecting payability are also explained in this topic:

  • employment income nil rate period
  • multiple entitlement exclusion
  • immediate and advance payments, and
  • New Zealand recipients.

Income test

The following table shows the type of income test used when the PA recipient's partner is claiming or in receipt of different benefits or allowances.

If the PA recipient's partner is claiming or in receipt of … then use the …
  • jobseeker payment
  • youth allowance, or
  • austudy payment
personal and partnered income test.
  • special benefit
special benefit income test.
  • age pension
  • disability support pension, or
  • DVA service pension
joint income test. That is, combine the 2 partners' income, halve it and apply the personal income test.
living allowance under the ABSTUDY scheme allowances excess income test.

Act reference: SSAct section 771HC(1) PA not payable if allowance rate nil

Policy reference: SS Guide Pensions income test, 4.2.2 Benefits income test & limits

Employment income nil rate period - an incentive to take up work

A PA recipient who loses payment because of ordinary income (either their own or their partner's) (1.1.O.30), made up entirely or partly of employment income (1.1.E.102), may qualify for an employment income nil rate period. To assess qualification for an employment income nil rate period see 3.1.12.

During the employment income nil rate period a PA recipient can:

  • be paid certain supplementary benefits
  • retain their HCC or PCC, and
  • have their payment resumed if they report a fall in income sufficient for PA to be payable again.

Explanation: This policy provides incentives for PA recipients to take up work, particularly casual or short-term work.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(4A) Despite subsection (4) …, section 23(4AA) For the purposes of subsection (4A) …, section 1061ZEA Further extended qualification rule: loss of payment because of employment income, section 1061ZMA Further extended qualification rule: loss of payment because of employment income

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.12 Employment income nil rate period, Qualification for HCC - automatic issue, PCC extension rules

Assets test

PA is not payable if the value of the recipient's assets exceeds the assets value limit. The asset test is a joint test.

Explanation: The value of a PA recipient's assets is 50% of the sum of their assets and their partner's assets.

Act reference: SSAct section 771HF Assets test-allowance not payable if assets value limit exceeded


As PA has been closed to new entrants since 20 September 2003, the following information is for historical purposes only.

Multiple entitlement exclusion

PA is not payable to a recipient who is already receiving:

  • a social security pension, allowance or benefit
  • a DVA service pension
  • benefits under the SFSS, or
  • benefits under a Commonwealth funded employment program.

Act reference: SSAct section 771HI Multiple entitlement exclusion, section 771HJ Educational schemes exclusion, section 771HK Maximum basic rate and RAA not payable …

Waiting periods

No waiting periods, or non-payment periods apply to PA recipients except the NARWP and the SWPP. However, the PA recipient is affected by any waiting period or non-payment period that is imposed on their partner.

Explanation: A person is qualified for PA only if their partner is receiving one of the pension or allowance payments specified in the legislation. The definition of receiving requires that the pension or benefit be payable.

Example: If a NSA partner was serving a LAWP or was subject to an IMP, the PA partner would not be qualified for PA during that period.

Act reference: SSAct section 771HA(3) Person subject to waiting period or non-payment period, section 771HNA Newly arrived resident's waiting period, section 771HNB Duration of newly arrived resident's waiting period, section 771HA Qualification for PA

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.2 Waiting & preclusion periods, 3.1.7 Seasonal work preclusion period, 4.3.4 Income maintenance period, Qualification for PA, 1.1.N.70 Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP), Exemptions from waiting periods, Exemptions from the NARWP

Exception - non-payment period

If the JSP recipient has a non-payment period imposed under SSAct section 608(1), the PA partner can qualify for and be paid PA from the date JSP would otherwise be payable, if not for the imposition of the non-payment period.

Explanation: This is intended to avoid the situation in which a dependent partner who has little or no control over a decision made by the JSP recipient, is left without income support.

Example: If a JSP partner is serving a non-payment period due to misconduct or voluntary unemployment, the PA partner would be paid during that period.

Act reference: SSAct section 771HA(1B) … the person's partner is taken to be receiving JSP …, section 608(1) JSP not payable if allowance rate nil

Immediate & advance payments

If continuing eligibility is established, immediate payments can be made to PA recipients who are experiencing financial hardship. PA recipients are not eligible for advance payment.

Policy reference: SS Guide 8.4 Payment methods, Qualification for certain benefits & PPS advance payments

New Zealand recipients

New Zealanders who entered Australia after 1 February 2000 are subject to a NARWP for PA.

Last reviewed: