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. SpB when partner is unable to provide support


Situations can arise where a person claims SpB because they are a dependent member of a couple (1.1.M.120), and their partner:

  • is disqualified from JSP or YA, owing to involvement in industrial action, OR
  • is imprisoned, on remand or confined in a psychiatric institution, OR
  • chooses not to be employed, OR
  • has voluntarily adopted a lifestyle which makes it difficult or impossible for them to provide support.

Example: A partner who is self-employed and refuses to cease self-employment and look for alternative employment.

Example: A partner in full-time study or training who refuses to cease those activities in order to seek employment.

Act reference: SSAct section 16(1)-'industrial action'

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for SpB

Confirmation of circumstances

Payment of SpB should only be made where the circumstances are verified and the person meets ALL other qualification for SpB. As with all claims for SpB, all avenues of support should be explored and exhausted before the claim is granted.

Example: The available funds and income and assets tests.

Factors to consider when person has no support

The delegate should consider the following issues when determining whether payment of SpB is appropriate:

  • Is the person able to qualify for JSP or any other payment, and is any other support available?
  • Payment should only be considered if the person claims they have no say in the partner's decision.
    • Explanation: These situations will rarely occur as the person would usually qualify for PP or another payment.
  • Hardship should be determined through the short term available funds test.

Industrial action

If SpB is granted because the person's partner is precluded from JSP or YA due to industrial action, the progress of the industrial dispute must be monitored.

Explanation: The person's qualification for SpB will need to be reassessed when the dispute finishes.

If a partner is precluded from receiving JSP or YA as a result of industrial action, they are also disqualified from receiving SpB. In these cases, ONLY the dependent partner may qualify for SpB.

Partner imprisoned, on remand or confined in a psychiatric institution

SpB may be paid to a dependent partner who is not able to qualify for any other pension or allowance, if the partner is:

  • remanded in custody awaiting trial, OR
  • convicted of an offence, but having appealed against the conviction, is placed on remand pending the outcome of appeal, OR
  • in a state youth training centre facing charges, OR
  • confined in a psychiatric institution having been charged with an offence.

This would NOT be the case however, if the:

  • person imprisoned was in receipt of a pension at the time of conviction, AND
  • a part of that pension is apportioned to their partner or dependants during the period of imprisonment.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.4 Imprisonment, psychiatric confinement & prison release

Dependent children

A claim for PP would be appropriate if:

  • the partner is likely to be imprisoned or held on remand for more than 14 days, and
  • the dependent partner has dependent children.

The person should lodge the PP claim promptly as SpB cannot be paid when another pension or benefit is payable. The following table explains the possibilities when PP should be claimed:

If PP is … then SpB …
NOT claimed within 14 days should be cancelled.
claimed within 14 days MAY be paid if the person is in hardship while waiting for the PP claim to be determined. Any payment of SpB must be recovered from the pension payment when granted.

Policy reference: SS Guide SpB in other common situations

Rate of payment

If SpB is granted, payment should be made at the rate specified in the following table:

If the person's partner is … then the maximum SpB is the …
involved in industrial action partnered rate of JSP.
voluntarily unable to provide support partnered rate of JSP.
imprisoned, on remand or confined in a psychiatric institution single rate of JSP plus RA if applicable.

Last reviewed: