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. What is compensation

This topic

This topic contains general information on the following:

  • what is compensation, and
  • definition of personal injury.

What is compensation

The most common forms of compensation are payments made in respect of personal injury, or physical and/or emotional suffering. Compensation is defined in SSAct section 17 and includes payments made within or outside Australia. This chapter primarily concerns the effect on social security payments of compensation made in respect of personal injury. In particular, it concerns compensation payments that are assessable under the compensation provisions of SSAct Part 3.14.

Compensation provisions only apply to compensation payments that are made wholly or partly in respect of lost earnings or lost capacity to earn, i.e. 'economic loss'. In cases where compensation does not include any component for lost earnings or lost capacity to earn, they are not treated as 'compensation', but more generally, as ordinary income under the SSAct.

Act reference: SSAct Part 3.14 Compensation recovery, section 17 Compensation recovery definitions, section 8(1)-'income'

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.C.240 Compensation, 1.1.E.10 Economic loss compensation, 1.1.N.110 Non-economic loss compensation, Assessment of compensatory type payments

Definition of a personal injury

A personal injury may also include a disease or a condition. A number of High Court decisions have been made that support this definition.

Act reference: SSAct section 17(2) Compensation

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