- aged 22 years or more but under Age Pension age
- looking for paid work
- prepared to meet the activity test while you are looking for work
- meet an income and assets test
Express Plus mobile apps
Express Plus mobile apps offers you a simple, fast, mobile way to do your Centrelink business on the go using your mobile device.
Single parents can earn more money
From 1 January 2013 you are able to earn more money before your Newstart Allowance payment is affected if you are single and the principal carer for your child. Read more on the income test for Newstart Allowance.
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for Newstart Allowance
You need to meet eligibility requirements to claim Newstart Allowance.
Payment rates for Newstart Allowance
The payment rates for Newstart Allowance are updated on 20 March and 20 September each year and are a guide only.
|If you are:||Your maximum fortnightly payment is:|
|single, no children||$515.60|
|single, with a dependent child or children||$557.90|
|single, aged 60 or over, after nine continuous months on payment||$557.90|
|single principal carer granted activity test exemption for either:||$720.30|
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 may apply.
Income test, assets tests and working credit
The amount of Newstart Allowance you get depends on both your income and your assets, including liquid assets which are funds available to you or your partner.
As a Newstart Allowance customer, you can earn up to $100 per fortnight before tax, before your payment is affected.
Income above $100 and up to $250 per fortnight reduces your fortnightly payment by 50 cents in the dollar. Income above $250 per fortnight reduces your payment by 60 cents in the dollar.
If you are the single principal carer of a dependent child, your payments will reduce by 40 cents for each dollar of income you earn above $100 per fortnight. Partner income that exceeds the cut-out point reduces your payment by 60 cents in the dollar.
As an applicant for Newstart Allowance, you will be assessed against an assets test. This includes liquid assets, which are any funds that are available to either you or your partner, and includes money owed by your employer.
Working Credit is a way in which you can keep more of your Newstart Allowance payment if you do any part-time or casual work. It also makes it easier for you to get Newstart Allowance back if you have a short-term full-time job.
Residence requirements for Newstart Allowance
To be eligible for Newstart Allowance you must satisfy residence requirements. You must:
- be an Australian resident
- be physically present in Australia on the day you lodge your claim, and
- continue to meet the residence requirements for as long as you get this payment
Newly arrived residents generally have a 104 week waiting period, with some exemptions.
If you are not an Australian resident, but arrived in Australia on a New Zealand passport after 26 February 2001 and have lived here continuously for at least 10 years since 26 February 2001, you may qualify for payment of Newstart Allowance for up to six months. If you qualify for payment under this exemption, you will not need to serve the 104 week newly arrived resident’s waiting period.
Other benefits while receiving Newstart Allowance
If you qualify for Newstart Allowance, you may be entitled to other payments and benefits, such as:
Check if you are eligible for this payment before you start your claim.
Once you have read about eligibility, the next steps are:
- find out what you need before you start your claim
- begin your claim
- provide your supporting documentation
- submit your claim
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Managing your payment
Change of circumstances for Newstart Allowance
You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you are receiving a payment. For example, if:
- your personal circumstances change
- you change your address
- your income changes
- you do not have to lodge a tax return
- your care arrangements change
- your work or study load changes
- you leave Australia
If you do not tell us about the changes within 14 days your payment may be affected because:
- you may find yourself in debt
- you may be overpaid benefits, and you will probably have to pay the money back
- you could be charged with fraud if you deliberately do not tell us about changes
- a recovery fee may be imposed if you give us incorrect information about your employment income
You can continue getting Newstart Allowance if you get sick or have an accident and are temporarily unable to work. You will need to get a medical certificate from your doctor that states you are unfit to do at least 8 hours’ work a week.
You will not have to meet the activity test or hand in your fortnightly application form in person while you are unfit for work and have a medical certificate.
How to report your changes
You can report changes to your circumstances using our self service options.
Are you moving to another location?
Use the Moving to an Area of Lower Employment Prospects (MALEP) Test to find out the employment prospects of the area you are moving to. Your payment could be affected if you choose to move to an area with significantly lower employment prospects without a good reason.
You can do most of your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self service. There are options using mobile apps, online accounts or phone self service.
Personal Contact Interviews
You will need to regularly attend Personal Contact Interviews so we can talk with you about your agreed activities and help you with anything that may be impacting on your participation in these activities. These interviews can be either face-to-face in your local service centre or over the phone, depending on your circumstances.
Penalties for not meeting your Activity Test or participation requirements
If you do not meet your Activity Test or participation requirements, your income support payment may be reduced or stopped.
Owing money while receiving Newstart Allowance
If you owe money to the Australian Government Department of Human Services, you will be sent an 'Account Payable' or a letter telling you why you owe the money, the amount owed, when the amount is due to be paid, and how you can make the payment.
Read more about owing money and how to avoid a debt.
Advance payment options
You may be eligible to receive part of your Centrelink payment in advance.
Newstart Allowance while travelling outside Australia
If you leave Australia to live in another country, your payments will stop on departure.
If you leave Australia temporarily, you will only be paid outside Australia for a negotiated period of up to 6 weeks, for the following approved reasons:
- an acute family crisis. For example to visit an immediate family member who is critically ill
- humanitarian reasons. For example to adopt a child or attend custody proceedings, or
- eligible medical treatment that is not available in Australia
If you are attending a training camp with the Defence Force Reserves you can be paid for the duration of the training.
If you have been granted Newstart Allowance under a residence exemption available to certain New Zealand citizens, and your payment stops while you are outside Australia you will not be able to be re-granted payment under the exemption on your return.
Advising us of your travel outside Australia
You should tell us if you are leaving Australia and:
- plan to live in another country
- are travelling on a cruise ship
- are leaving due to an acute family crisis, for medical treatment overseas, for humanitarian reasons or to attend a training camp with the Defence Force Reserves
- you are receiving payment under a residence exemption available to New Zealand citizens, or
- your dependent child will be away for longer than 6 weeks
Otherwise you do not need to tell us if you are leaving Australia. We will be advised automatically by Australia's immigration department when you leave Australia and when you return.
Weekly payment option
You may be eligible to receive your income support payment weekly, instead of fortnightly, in certain circumstances.
You may be able to meet your activity test requirements by doing voluntary work with an organisation we have approved. We must agree that the voluntary work position is suitable for you. You will need to submit a Verification of Voluntary Work form in person or via post to your nearest service centre.
How much you earn affects your payment. We need to know what you have earned each fortnight so you are paid the right amount.
Self service computers and printers are available in your local service centre to help you identify employment opportunities and make contact with service providers who may be able to assist you in your search for work free of charge.
Financial Information Services
A free, confidential service that provides education and information on financial and lifestyle issues to all Australians.
Read more about Financial Information Services.
Select the options that describe your circumstances then explore a suggested list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
Select your state and topics of interest to find links to government and community organisation support.
Social work services
Our social workers can also help you during difficult times by providing confidential counselling, support and information.
Skills for Education and Employment
A program to help develop speaking, reading, writing or basic maths skills to improve the chances of getting and keeping a job.
Read more about Skills for Education and Employment.
MoneySmart offers free independent guidance to help people make the most of their money.
- Managing your money aims to get you in control of your money to help you achieve your goals, manage on a low income and where to go for urgent money help
- Borrowing & credit information on loans, credit cards, other types of credit such as interest-free deals and rent to buy, information about credit reports and credit repair and what to do if you are having trouble with debt
- Superannuation & retirement get the most out of your super
- Investing guides you through the basic principles of investing and how to find a good financial adviser
- Scams explains how scams work, how to identify different scams and what to do if you have been scammed
- Life events & you information tailored to your situation including under 25s, families and over 55s
- Tools & resources handy tools, calculators, publications, audio files and quizzes including a budget planner, retirement planner and mobile apps