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 in other common situations


This topic explains the issues associated with assessment of SpB claims from people who are:

  • socially marginalised, or
  • experiencing hardship while awaiting determination of a claim, or the first payment delivery day of their pension/allowance.

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for SpB

Socially marginalised

A person who was granted SpB in the socially marginalised category was generally someone who:

  • was unable to meet the mutual obligation and reporting requirements for JSP due to a medical condition, and
  • was ineligible for DSP, or
  • because of their medical condition, refused to claim DSP.

It should be very rare for a person to be granted SpB in this category these days as people in this situation now have better access to rehabilitation programs, employment programs and disability employment assistance programs.

If consideration is being given to granting a person SpB in the socially marginalised category, JSP incapacity exemptions and/or eligibility for DSP must first be explored in all cases. It is NOT in the best interests of the person to be paid SpB if there is any other alternative.

When assessing eligibility for socially marginalised people, reports on their medical condition should be obtained from treating doctors and other professionals who are acquainted with their circumstances. Social worker advice should also be sought in all cases.

Examples: Reports might have been obtained from psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists.

Pension or allowance person experiencing hardship

If a person is in hardship, SpB can be considered if they are:

  • awaiting the determination of a pension/allowance claim where grant may be delayed, or
  • waiting for the first payment delivery day (1.1.D.55).

A person in these situations is still required to meet the usual provisions for SpB. When deciding whether the person is in hardship, care must be taken to consider support received from all sources. As the amount of SpB paid to the person must be recovered in these circumstances, it is important to investigate whether all other sources of support have been exhausted before making a decision to grant payment.

Explanation: If alternative support is available and SpB is not required, the person will avoid having withholdings made from their pension payment when it becomes payable.

Examples: Delays in rent payment may be negotiated on behalf of the person, and food vouchers may also be available.

The short term available funds test applies in all cases. If a person has been precluded under the short term available funds test and reclaims, with less available funds, the delegate must consider whether the situation of hardship was avoidable. If the person is experiencing hardship pending determination of a DSP claim, a JCA is necessary before payment can be granted.

Policy reference: SS Guide Assessment of SpB claims, Short term available funds test for SpB

Following grant to pension/allowance person

If the person is paid any amount of SpB, it must be recovered from their subsequent pension payment. Clearance must be given for the period of overlap between the provisional commencement date of the pension and the date SpB has been paid to. The provisional commencement date is generally the date of claim lodgement. Due to this requirement, SpB should only be granted in extreme circumstances.

Example: A person who is escaping domestic violence.

SpB must be cancelled when the person's pension/allowance is granted. Any SpB paid from the provisional commencement day must be recovered from the payment, although it does not have to be recovered entirely from the first pension payment if that would result in financial hardship for the person.

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