A payment for people aged 22 years or older, but under age pension age, who temporarily cannot work or study because of an injury or illness.
- aged 22 years or older and have a job, or
- aged 22 years or older and getting ABSTUDY as a full time student, or
- aged 25 years or older and getting Austudy as a full time student, and
- under Age Pension age and meet an income and assets test
Eligibility & payment rates
To be eligible for Sickness Allowance, you must:
- be 22 years or older, but under age pension age, and have a job or be getting ABSTUDY as a full time student, or
- be 25 years or older, but under age pension age, and getting Austudy as a full time student, and
- meet income and asset test requirements
- meet residence requirements
- provide a medical certificate from your doctor stating you cannot work or study
- have work or study to return to when you are better
Otherwise, you may need to check your eligibility for another Centrelink payment such as Newstart Allowance.
We review your circumstances regularly to make sure you are getting the correct payment amount. If your or your family’s circumstances change, this may affect your payment.
The payment rates for Sickness Allowance are updated on 20 March and 20 September each year.
Maximum payment rates of Sickness Allowance
|If you are:||Maximum fortnightly payment:|
|single, aged 22 years or older but under age pension age, with no children||$528.70|
|single, aged 22 years or older but under age pension age, with dependent children||$571.90|
|single, aged 60 years or older but under age pension age, after 9 continuous months of payment||$571.90|
When you apply for a payment, you may not get it immediately. The time you have to wait is called a waiting period.
An income test and an assets test are used to work out your payment rate. The test that results in the lowest payment rate will apply.
An asset is any property or possession you own either partly or in full. It includes assets held outside Australia and debts owing to you. Read more about:
- assets test for homeowners if you own or are buying your home
- assets test for non-homeowners if you are renting or boarding
Payment may be delayed when your liquid assets are $5,500 or more if you are single, or $11,000 or more if you are a member of a couple or single with dependants.
If you are experiencing severe financial hardship and have little or no entitlement to a payment, Asset Hardship provisions may apply.
To be eligible for Sickness Allowance, you need to satisfy residence requirements. You must:
- be an Australian resident
- be physically present in Australia on the day you submit your claim, and
- continue to meet the residence requirements for as long as you get this payment
Newly arrived generally have a 104 week waiting period, with some exemptions.
If you are a non-protected Special Category Visa holder, you may be able to access a once only payment of either:
At the time of making a claim, you must have been living in Australia continuously for at least 10 years. Time spent in Australia prior to 27 February 2001 cannot count towards these 10 years. If you are eligible, payment can be made for a maximum continuous period of up to 6 months.
Check if you are eligible for this payment before you start your claim.
Once you have read about eligibility, the next steps are:
- start your claim online
- provide the supporting documentation
- submit your claim
Managing your payment
You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you are receiving a payment. For example:
- 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
If you do not tell us about the changes within 14 days, your payment may be affected. You may be overpaid and you will probably have to pay the money back.
If you deliberately do not tell us about changes, you could be charged with fraud. A recovery fee may be imposed if you give us incorrect information about your employment income.
To get your payment while outside Australia you must continue to meet the qualification rules for Sickness Allowance.
If you want someone else to handle your Centrelink, Child Support or Medicare business, you can authorise them to deal with us on your behalf.
In certain circumstances, you may be eligible to receive your income support payment weekly, instead of fortnightly.
How much you or your partner earn affects your payment. We need to know what you and your partner have earned each fortnight so you're paid the right amount.
Sickness Allowance cannot be paid to people who are over age pension age. You should apply to transfer to Age Pension to see if you are eligible.
Read more about how to transfer to Age Pension.
There is support available to help you manage your money if you have overdrawn your bank, building society or credit union account.
Select the options that describe your circumstances, then explore a 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.