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 intended only as a guide to social security payments. 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 RA


Even though someone may be otherwise qualified, RA may not be payable in some circumstances. This topic explains the following issues that affect payability of RA:

  • payability of the primary payment
  • members of a couple
  • waiting and exclusion periods
  • income and assets testing
  • RA for couples during an employment income nil rate period or an 8 week non-payment period, and
  • absence from Australia.

Payability of the primary payment

RA is a supplement added to the rate of pension, benefit, allowance or FTB payable to eligible income support recipients who pay rent above the applicable rent threshold. Therefore, if a recipient qualifies for RA, it is PAYABLE on the same basis as the primary payment.

Members of a couple (1.1.M.120)

Rules for payment of RA to a member of a couple vary depending on the payment type being received by each partner, as outlined in the following table:

If the RA recipient … then RA …
is a pensioner or allowee and their partner receives FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate is paid to the partner receiving FTB.
is an allowee and their partner receives a pension is paid to the pensioner at the combined rate.
and their partner BOTH receive an allowance is split equally between the partners.
and their partner BOTH receive a pension is split equally between the partners.

Policy reference: SS Guide Special RA rules for couples & families with children

Waiting & exclusion periods

A person may qualify for a social security payment with RA but this may not be payable due to the application of any waiting periods or exclusion periods. RA is not paid independently of the primary payment.

Example: A JSP recipient who was qualified for RA as part of their JSP payment, but was serving a waiting period or IMP. RA could NOT be paid in this case until the JSP payment commenced.

Income & asset testing

In all cases, the income and assets test that applies to the primary payment also applies to RA.

Example: When RA is paid with a primary payment (e.g. JSP), there is a hierarchy of reductions applied, the basic pension or benefit is affected first under the income test, then other components including RA.

Act reference: SSAct section 1210 Application of income and assets test reductions and of compensation reductions for income tax purposes

RA for couples during an employment income nil rate period or an 8 week non-payment period

When a member of a couple doesn't receive payment because of an employment income nil rate period or an 8 week non-payment period the member still receiving a social security pension or benefit might continue to receive RA as if their partner was still on payment. See for rules for couples.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(4A) Despite subsection (4) …, section 23(4AA) For the purposes of subsection …

SS(Admin)Act Part 3 Division 3A Compliance with participation payment obligations …

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.12 Employment income nil rate period, 3.11.14 Consequences for not meeting mutual obligation requirements - CDP job seeker compliance framework

RA during an absence from Australia

If a recipient intends to travel overseas temporarily, RA is payable for the same length of time as their primary payment or up to 26 weeks. The person must remain qualified for RA while they are overseas by continuing to pay rent for their principal home in Australia.

If the recipient is granted an extension to their limited portability period, RA is also payable, if still qualified, during the extension period.

For payments with an unlimited portability period, RA is payable for the first 26 weeks only, if the absence is expected to be temporary, and not payable at all in the case of permanent absences.

Special rules apply to recipients receiving RA with their FTB (see FA Guide

Act reference: SSAct section 1216 Amounts added to rate

Policy reference: SS Guide Overview of portability legislation, General rules of portability, Application of portability rules (portability table)

FA Guide FTB portability from 1 July 2016

Last reviewed: