SpB for people not residentially qualified for other payments


A newly arrived resident who would qualify for a pension, except that they are not residentially qualified, can still qualify for SpB, subject to all the usual SpB provisions, including the NARWP.

As with all claims for SpB, all avenues of support should be explored and exhausted before the claim is granted.

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for SpB

Confirmation of circumstances

If a DSP applicant claims their inability to work occurred before entering Australia (1.1.A.320), and the 10-year qualifying residence requirement has not been met, further information may be required before SpB can be granted.

Policy reference: SS Guide Special payments - documentation required

Factors to consider for non-residentially qualified applicants

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

  • In the case of sole parents, do the person's circumstances prevent them from qualifying for JSP?
  • Is the person exempt from the NARWP?
  • Is the person subject to an AoS (1.1.A.310)?

Sole parents

A sole parent may still be able to qualify for JSP, depending on their circumstances and the age of the child.

Example: If a child is of school age, the person may be able to seek work. If the child has not reached school age, the person would be expected to place the child in alternative care, such as childcare or with a relative. The availability of childcare will depend on where the person lives, the age of the child and what is offered by local services such as childcare centres.

Holders of specified subclasses of visas

Subject to all the usual SpB provisions, holders of the following temporary visas qualify for SpB because of a Determination by the Minister under SSAct section 729(2)(f)(v) and MAY be paid SpB:

  • 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).

Most holders of these visas will not be subject to a NARWP for SpB, however, from 1 January 2012, holders of 309 and 820 visas will no longer be exempt from the NARWP because they are the family member of an Australian citizen/permanent resident, and can only be paid SpB if they are in financial hardship AND have suffered a substantial change in circumstances after arrival in Australia.

That is, UNLESS the person is subject to the NARWP, they could qualify for SpB if they:

  • are in financial hardship, AND
  • have suffered a substantial change in circumstances, beyond their control after arrival in Australia.

If it is established that SpB may be granted to the person, careful consideration should be given to any income earned by their partner, and the partner's capacity to provide support.

Explanation: Holders of provisional or temporary partner visas are required to be sponsored by their Australian resident partner and as such, the sponsor agrees to provide support to their partner.

If the person does not qualify for payment of SpB, their Australian resident partner may qualify for payment at the single rate under SSAct section 24.

Act reference: SSAct section 24 Person may be treated as not being a member of a couple …, section 729(2) The Secretary may, in his or her discretion, determine that an SpB should be granted … see (f), section 7(2) Australian residence definitions, section 739A(8) Neither subsection (1) nor (2) applies …

Policy reference: SS Guide Discretion to treat a person as not being a member of a couple for a special reason, Substantial change in circumstances for SpB, 9.2 Visa subclasses & payment eligibility for visas issued after 1/9/94

People subject to an AoS

People subject to an AoS can qualify for SpB, IF they:

  • are not being supported or adequately supported, OR
  • refuse support from the assurer on reasonable grounds.

The assurer's financial circumstances must be closely examined to find out why they cannot provide support to the person. The assurer must be made aware of:

  • their legal obligation to provide support, and
  • the potential debt they will incur if the person is granted SpB.

The level of support provided by the assurer is important. If they are only providing free board and/or lodgings (1.1.B.70) and a decision is made to grant SpB, the rate payable should be adjusted accordingly.

If the person refuses to accept support from the assurer, the circumstances surrounding the case must be carefully examined.

Careful consideration must be given to whether the person has an entitlement to any other payment.

Policy reference: SS Guide 2.2.2 Verifying personal details, Determining the rate of SpB


Review of all cases is particularly important to ensure that SpB is not paid after residence qualifications are met.

Policy reference: SS Guide 6.2.6 Special payments reviews

Last reviewed: