There are different types of income we take into account to work out your payment rates.

What income means

Income means:

  • an amount you earn, derive or receive for your own use or benefit
  • profits, the amount of earnings in excess of expenses, whether of a capital nature or not, and
  • a periodic payment or benefit you receive as a gift or allowance

It includes:

  • income from outside Australia
  • monies, legal tender or cash
  • valuable consideration, you receive goods, services or some other benefit in exchange for an item, action or promise

Assessable income

Assessable income is the income we use to work out your payment rate. If you have a partner, we take both of your incomes into account.

Examples of assessable income include:

We normally use your gross income to work out your payment rate. However, we may ask you for your income tax return or profit and loss statement if you own a business or a rental property to help us calculate your correct entitlement.

You can report your income and update your savings, shares, managed investments, real estate, other income, income streams, foreign income and assets, gifts and deprived assets and other assets using your Centrelink online account through myGov.

Exempt income

Exempt income is not included when we work out the rate of your income support payment.

Examples include:

  • a rent subsidy paid by the Commonwealth, or a state or territory government
  • most payments we make - however, these payments may be income for the Family Tax Benefit income test
  • compensation for loss of, or damage to, building, plant and personal effects
  • child support or maintenance payments for a dependent child. However, child support payments may affect the amount of Family Tax Benefit Part A you can receive
  • Pensioner Education Supplement and Education Entry Payment if you are receiving a pension, allowance or benefit
  • the value of any free board and lodging you receive
  • a periodic payment from an immediate relative, for example, your father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister
  • emergency relief or similar assistance
  • any restitution payments you receive because you were the victim of National Socialist persecution
  • any withdrawals from, or returns paid on, a First Home Saver Account
  • reimbursement of expenses
  • some allowances where the allowance is fully expended on the item or items
  • payments received as part of a funded package of support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme
  • some lump sums

Exempt equity and merit based scholarships

An equity or merit based scholarship is any scholarship you receive:

  • so you can study or do research at an educational institution, or
  • for achievement in study or research

Most education scholarships are equity or merit based scholarships.

If you receive an equity or merit based scholarship, up to $7,904 per year is exempt from the income test for all our payments with a personal, partner or parental income test.

Any amount over $7,904 per year is considered personal income and may affect your payment rate. We average the excess amount over the remaining fortnights of your scholarship. This means it has a consistent impact on your fortnightly Centrelink payment rate.

If you receive more than one scholarship, the $7,904 applies to the total amount you receive, not to each scholarship. This amount is indexed each year.


Deeming is a simple set of social security rules we use to assess income from financial assets. Under the pension income test and allowance income test, any income you get from financial investments is assessed under these rules.

Read more about deeming.

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Page last updated: 20 July 2017