Sickness Allowance

An income support payment if you can’t work or study for a while because of illness, injury or disability.

Eligibility basics

  • at least 22 but under age pension age
  • in a job or getting ABSTUDY or Austudy as a full time student
  • under the income and assets test limits

Eligibility & payment rates

Who can get it

You can get Sickness Allowance if you:

  • are 22 years or older, but under age pension age, and
    • have a job, or
    • get Austudy or ABSTUDY as a full time student

You must also:

  • meet an income and assets test
  • meet residency rules
  • provide a valid medical certificate, and
  • have work or study to return to when you’re better

You may need to serve a waiting period.

If you can’t get it

If you can’t get Sickness Allowance, check if you can get another payment.

How much you get

Your payment rate will depend on your income and assets.

We update rates on 20 March and 20 September each year. The table is a guide only.

If you're: Highest fortnightly payment
single with no children $538.80
single with dependent children $582.80
single, 60 years or older but under age pension age, after 9 months of regular payment $582.80
partnered $486.50 each


We regularly review your circumstances to make sure you get the right amount. If your circumstances change, this may affect your payment.

Income test

Your income can reduce how much we pay you.

Read more about the income test

Assets test

Owning assets in full or in part can affect your payments. Read about assets.

We may delay your first payment if your liquid assets are:

  • $5,500 or more if you’re single
  • $11,000 or more if you’re partnered, or
  • $11,000 or more if you’re single with dependents

If you don’t have enough to live on

Asset Hardship provisions could apply if:

  • you’re in severe financial hardship, and
  • you can’t get or only get minimal payments

Residence rules

On the day you claim Sickness Allowance, you must:

To keep getting Sickness Allowance

You must continue to be an Australian resident for as long as you get this payment.

What may be different

Newly arrived residents generally have a 104 week waiting period, with some exemptions.

If you're a non-protected Special Category visa holder and have lived in Australia for at least 10 years without a break since 27 February 2001, you may be able to get Sickness Allowance for up to 6 months. This can only happen once.


Check if you’re eligible before you start your claim.


  • find out what you need before you start
  • complete online claim
  • submit your claim and other documents we ask for
  • wait for us to tell you the result


Managing your payment

Change of circumstances

We need to know about changes that could reduce or stop your payment.

If you don’t tell us when changes happen, you may be doing the wrong thing.

What to tell us

You need to tell us if there are changes to your:

  • work load, including if you no longer have a job to return to
  • study load
  • personal circumstances
  • address
  • income
  • tax return
  • care arrangements

How and when to tell us

The easiest way to tell us about changes is through our self service options.

You need to:

  • tell us within 14 days of a change
  • make sure your details are up to date in myGov

It’s never too late to report a change.

If you don’t tell us

If you don’t tell us about changes in your life, we may pay you too much. If this happens you’ll have to pay the money back, plus a fee.

If you don't tell us about changes in your life on purpose, we could charge you with fraud.

Read about how to avoid committing fraud.

While travelling outside Australia

To get your payment while outside Australia you must continue to meet the qualification rules for Sickness Allowance.

Read more about Sickness Allowance while travelling outside Australia

Someone to deal with us on your behalf

If you want someone else to deal with us, you can authorise them to enquire, act or get payments for you.

Read more about someone to deal with us on your behalf

When you reach age pension age

Sickness Allowance can’t be paid to people who are over age pension age. You should apply to transfer to Age Pension to see if you’re eligible.

Read more about how to transfer to Age Pension.

Weekly payment option

Some people can get income support payments each week instead of each fortnight.

Read more about weekly payments

Income reporting

How much you or your partner earn affects your payment. We need to know what you and your partner earn so we pay you the right amount.

Read more about income reporting

My bank account is overdrawn

You can get help to manage your money if your bank account is overdrawn.

Read more about what to do if your account is overdrawn


Payment and Service Finder

Find, estimate and compare payments and services you may be eligible for. You can also work out what a change in circumstance might mean for the payments and services you currently receive from us.

Start using Payment and Service Finder

Manage your money


We’ve got advice and tools to help you with budgeting, borrowing and credit, and managing debt.

Read about how to manage your money.

Regular deductions using Centrepay

You can use our free and voluntary service to pay bills as regular deductions from your Centrelink payments.

Read more about regular deductions using Centrepay

Page last updated: 20 September 2017