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. Qualification for SpB


This topic explains the qualification criteria for SpB, and the situations in which a person cannot qualify for SpB.

Qualification (1.1.Q.10) criteria

To qualify for SpB, a person must meet the criteria listed in the following table. Where more detail about a criterion is required, the second column indicates where you will find this.

Criterion More detail
ALL of the following
Be UNABLE to receive any other social security pension or benefit, AND This topic
Be in financial hardship and unable to obtain or earn a sufficient livelihood for themselves and any dependants, AND Assessment of SpB claims
Be in Australia (1.1.A.320) throughout the period for which payment is sought, AND -
ONE of the following
Be an Australian resident, OR -
Be the holder of a specified subclass of visa. This topic

Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'social security pension', section 23(1)-'social security benefit', section 7(2) Australian residence definitions

Unable to receive any other social security pension or benefit

SpB is ONLY available to a person who CANNOT receive any other income support payment under social security legislation. This means a person MAY receive SpB if they are qualified for another payment AS LONG AS:

  • that payment is not yet payable, AND
  • if the payment they would receive is JSP, YA or Austudy, the reason for non-payment is not related to
    • mutual obligation or study requirements failure in some form, OR
    • failing to comply with the other Act requirements, OR
  • if the payment they would receive is PP, the reason for non-payment is not related to
    • a PP breach non-payment period, OR
    • failure to enter into a participation agreement.

Exception: War widows who have been receiving a social security benefit continuously since before 1 November 1986 may be eligible for payment of SpB subject to meeting all other qualification criteria.

Act reference: SSAct section 735(3)(c) SpB is not payable to a woman if …

Holder of a specified subclass of visa

Holders of the following temporary visas MAY be paid SpB even though they are not Australian permanent residents:

  • subclass 820 - Partner
  • subclass 309 - Partner (Provisional)
  • subclass 785 - Temporary Protection
  • subclass 786 - Temporary (Humanitarian Concern)
  • subclass 790 - Safe Haven Enterprise
  • subclass 449 - Humanitarian Stay (Temporary)
  • CJSV (9.2.14) - issued specifically for the purpose of assisting in the administration of criminal justice in relation to an offence of trafficking in persons, slavery or slavery like practices
  • subclass 060 - Bridging F, and
  • subclass 070 - Bridging (Removal Pending).

Note: Holders of visa subclasses 309 and 820 (Partner) qualify for SpB as a result of a determination under SSAct 729(2)(f)(v), but for applications for SpB made from 1 January 2012 these visa holders will be required to serve the SpB 2 year NARWP unless they have experienced both financial hardship and a substantial change in circumstances beyond their control after arrival in Australia. Refer

Act reference: SSAct section 729(2)(f) The Secretary may, in his or her discretion …

Policy reference: SS Guide Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP), Payability of SpB, SpB for people not residentially qualified for other payments, 9.2 Visa subclasses & payment eligibility for visas issued after 1/9/94

Some people CANNOT qualify for SpB

The following people CANNOT qualify for SpB, a person who:

  • is voluntarily unemployed, OR
  • elects to devote their efforts to the establishment or conduct of a business venture which may at the time of application be unprofitable, OR
  • perseveres with an unprofitable venture.

Explanation: These people have control over their circumstances, and therefore should not be granted SpB.

Last reviewed: