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.

8.4.2.10 Urgent payments

Definition of urgent payment

An urgent payment is an early delivery of a recipient's entitlement, which is made because the recipient is in severe financial hardship as a result of exceptional and unforeseen circumstances. An urgent payment is different to an advance payment or a hardship advance payment (see 5.4.1.10 and 8.4.2.20).

Urgent payments result in a lower subsequent payment on the recipient's usual payment delivery day (1.1.D.55).

Generally, a person can only receive a maximum of 2 urgent payments in any 12-month period. Limited exceptions to this may include the following:

  • Extraordinary circumstances - to ensure the protection of vulnerable people, where extraordinary circumstances can be verified.
  • Expenses associated with the funeral of an immediate family member, including extended family members for Indigenous people.
  • Departmental delay, action or lack of action by Services Australia which delayed the receipt of income support payments and caused the person to be in severe financial hardship.
  • Holiday processing, where a person's regular payment is delayed due to the timing of a national public holiday.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 43 Payment by instalments, section 44 Payment of instalments to person or nominee

Issues to consider before making an urgent payment

The recipient needs to demonstrate they are in severe financial hardship due to exceptional and unforeseen circumstances before an urgent payment is made.

Verification of the reasons that a recipient has requested an urgent payment should be sought where appropriate.

Delegates must make the following decisions when considering requests for urgent payment of pensions, benefits or allowances:

  • whether alternative assistance will alleviate the hardship, and
  • whether an urgent payment should be made.

The delegate should always attempt to facilitate an alternative form of assistance for the recipient before an urgent payment is paid.

Special circumstances

Delegates need to consider the impact of making urgent payments to some recipients.

Example: Those with a psychiatric or intellectual disability may not understand the ramifications of receiving an urgent payment, i.e. an urgent payment will result in a lower subsequent payment on the recipient's usual payment delivery day.

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