Waiting Periods

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to wait for a period of time before receiving your first income support payment.

This is because various waiting periods can be applied to your claim. These waiting periods include:

Ordinary Waiting Period

If you’re making a claim for Newstart Allowance or Sickness Allowance you may need to serve a 1 week Ordinary Waiting Period.

Exemptions

You can be exempt from the Ordinary Waiting Period if:

  • you are reclaiming within 13 weeks of last receiving a social security benefit or allowance, a social security pension or service pension
  • you are undertaking a recognised labour market program or a rehabilitation program
  • you are in severe financial hardship

Liquid Assets Waiting Period

Depending on what money you have readily available when claiming Newstart Allowance, Sickness Allowance, Youth Allowance or Austudy, you may have to serve a Liquid Assets Waiting Period of between 1 and 13 weeks.

The Liquid Assets Waiting Period is the period you must wait before being paid an allowance. You will need to wait for this period if you have funds equal to or above $5,500 if you are single with no dependants or $11,000 if you are partnered, or single with dependants on the day you:

  • stop work or study, or
  • make a claim

We will let you know how long you have to wait before you can be paid, which can vary from 1 to 13 weeks depending on:

  • the amount of your liquid assets
  • whether you are a member of a couple

Liquid assets are any funds, including monies owed by your employer that are readily available to either you or your partner. Find out more about liquid assets.

Exemptions

You can be exempt from the Liquid Assets Waiting Period if:

  • you or your partner have been subject to a Liquid Assets Waiting Period that started within the last 12 months
  • you are transferring from one payment to another within a 14-day period (in some circumstances)
  • you claim a payment after the Liquid Assets Waiting Period would have expired
  • you are undertaking:
    • a rehabilitation program
    • formal vocational training in a labour market program that has been approved by us
  • you become qualified for Newstart Allowance after receiving another payment (in some circumstances)

Income Maintenance Period

The Income Maintenance Period is a period of time where leave and redundancy payments you or your partner have received are treated as income. For example, a 10 week redundancy payment would result in a 10 week Income Maintenance Period from the date it was received. The only exception is if some of your payment is rolled directly into superannuation under the Transitional Employer Termination Payment provisions.

This means that your payment may be reduced or stopped for a time, depending on how much money you were paid and the period of time it was paid for. If your leave or redundancy payment is below a certain amount, you may be eligible to receive part of your payment from Centrelink during the Income Maintenance Period.

An Income Maintenance Period applies to the following payments:

Don’t delay submitting a claim while waiting for your leave or redundancy payments from your former employer. This could mean you will have a longer than necessary wait to receive your payments.

Use myGov now to access your Centrelink online account and make a claim.

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If you spend your money

If you spend your leave entitlements or termination payments on expenses that are not considered to be unavoidable or reasonable, you will still have to serve the waiting periods. These expenses may include:

  • lump sum payments on a mortgage or rent
  • holidays

If you have to spend money on expenses that are considered unavoidable or reasonable, your waiting period may be reduced. These expenses may include:

  • essential repairs to a car or home
  • essential medical expenses

Exemptions

If you can demonstrate that you are in severe financial hardship as a result of having to use your leave entitlements or termination payments to pay any unavoidable or reasonable costs, we may be able to waive this waiting period.

Seasonal Work Preclusion Period

If you or your partner have finished doing seasonal, contract or casual work in the 6 months before you claim, you may need to wait for a period of time before you can receive your payment. The Seasonal Work Preclusion Period is applied to the following payments:

The Seasonal Work Preclusion Period will depend on how much you earned from your work and how long you were working for. The duration is based on how long it would take an average wage earner to earn the same amount as a person engaged in contract, seasonal or casual work.

Seasonal, contract or casual work

Seasonal work is any work that is only available for a part of the year, each year. Many fishing, agricultural and tourism jobs are seasonal.

Contract work is any work that is performed under a contract for a specific function or period, including sub-contract work.

Casual work is work that is available from time to time, can reasonably be predicted to end or not be available for a period, is less than a year in duration and does not accrue leave entitlements.

Examples of seasonal, contract and casual work can include:

  • fruit picking
  • harvesting
  • shearing
  • fishing
  • consultancy work
  • work performed under a contract for a specific function or period, including sub-contracts
  • work in an industry affected by shutdowns
  • work on building sites
  • work that is affected by regular shutdowns, such as work in factories that temporarily shut down for the Christmas period, or for regular maintenance
  • work in the arts and entertainment industries
  • work that stops and starts with regularity, such as work in the mining or oil industry
  • work that is less than one year in duration and does not accrue leave entitlements
  • work that is known to be temporary
  • relief teaching or work in the health industry
  • non-ongoing work, or work where a period of unemployment is predictable

Exemptions

  • permanent employment that is expected to last more than 12 months
  • any employment other than seasonal work, where leave entitlements have been paid

If you take up any work opportunities while receiving a Centrelink payment, you must report your earnings to us.

Use myGov now to access your Centrelink online account and report your earnings.

Resources

Newly arrived resident’s waiting period

If you are a new migrant to Australia you generally do not have immediate access to social security payments.

As a newly arrived resident you will usually need to wait 2 years (Newly Arrived Resident's Waiting Period) before you can access most payments and benefits.

Its length, how it is calculated and who it applies to depends on your arrival in Australia and the benefit you apply for. Periods spent in Australia as an Australian resident at any time in your life can be counted towards the waiting period.

While you are serving your waiting period, you can register with Job Services Australia for help to find work. You can also use the Employment Self Help facilities available in DHS Service Centres.

Exemptions

There are a number of exemptions from the Newly Arrived Resident's Waiting Period including if you are an Australian citizen or the family member of an Australian citizen, a person who arrived under a refugee or humanitarian program or are the holder of certain visa subclasses.

If you are in hardship because of a substantial change of circumstances beyond your control, you may be eligible for Special Benefit. Losing or not being able to find a job is generally not considered to be a change of circumstances.

There are additional reasons which exempt some people from the waiting period for certain benefits. You should lodge a claim with us to test whether you are eligible for an exemption.

Unemployment Non Payment Period

If you became unemployed voluntarily or were dismissed due to misconduct, you may need to serve an Unemployment Non Payment Period.

This applies to:

Read more about Unemployment Non Payment Periods.