Pharmaceutical Allowance

Helps with the cost of buying prescription medicines. Paid to eligible income support recipients with their regular fortnightly Centrelink payment.


Your eligibility for Pharmaceutical Allowance is automatically assessed when you claim a Centrelink payment.

You are eligible if you are receiving:

  • Sickness Allowance
  • Parenting Payment single and you are under age pension age
  • Disability Support Pension and you are under 21 with no dependent children
  • ABSTUDY, Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment partnered, Special Benefit or Widow Allowance, or Youth Allowance if you have a temporary illness or medical condition
  • ABSTUDY, Austudy, Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment partnered, Partner Allowance, Special Benefit, or Widow Allowance and have turned 60 but are under Age Pension age and have been receiving your payment continuously for at least 9 months
  • Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment partnered, or Youth Allowance as a job seeker, and have been assessed as having a partial capacity for work or
  • Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance as a jobseeker and you are a single person who is the main carer of a dependent child

You must also meet your main payment’s residence requirements.

Payment rates

Payment rates are effective from 1 January 2014.

The allowance is paid with your main payment each fortnight.

If you are Payment rate per fortnight
Single $6.20
A couple $3.10 each

Advance payments

You can apply to receive your allowance as an advance of 7 fortnightly payments if:

  • you receive the Parenting Payment single and are under age pension age, or
  • you receive the Disability Support Pension and are under 21 with no dependent children and you need a lot of medicines

Pharmaceutical Allowance is not taxed.

Read more about Advance Payment options.

Travelling outside Australia

If you leave Australia to live in another country, your Pharmaceutical Allowance will stop on departure.

If you leave Australia temporarily, as long as you continue to be paid your main payment, you will generally continue to receive your Pharmaceutical Allowance for up to 6 weeks.

If your main payment can be paid for longer than 6 weeks, you may continue to receive Pharmaceutical Allowance for up to 26 weeks overseas, or even longer depending on your main payment.

Read more about the rules for your main payment to see if it will be affected when you travel.

The easiest way to tell us about your travel plans is to use your Centrelink online account through myGov. You can get tailored information on how your payments and concession cards could be affected.

Read more about payments paid while outside Australia.

Keep a record of your PBS medicines

Keep a record of your Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines on a Prescription Record Form. This form is available from your pharmacist. This form helps you keep a record of all your PBS medicines so you know when you’ve reached the PBS Safety Net threshold.

If you go to the same pharmacist for all your PBS medicines, you can ask them to keep a computer record for you.

Once you or your family reach your PBS Safety Net threshold, you can apply for a PBS Safety Net card. With this card your PBS medicine will be cheaper or free for the rest of the calendar year.

What to do if your account is overdrawn

There is support available to help you manage your money if you have overdrawn your bank, building society or credit union account.

Read more about what to do if your account is overdrawn.

Page last updated: 15 May 2017