Severe financial hardship provisions

We may reduce or waive your waiting period for a payment if you meet the severe financial hardship provisions.

Who can apply

If you meet the provisions for severe financial hardship, we may waive or reduce your waiting period. We may do this even if you have more than 1 waiting period.

At least 1 of the following waiting periods must apply to you:

How to apply

You can tell us as part of your phone appointment with us. You can also call us on your regular payment line. You can do this anytime during your waiting period.

What the provisions are

We may consider you to be in severe financial hardship if:

  • your liquid assets are less than a set amount
  • you’ve had unavoidable or reasonable expenses.

We may also take into account your reasonable costs of living.

If we agree, we’ll waive or reduce your waiting period from the date you tell us.

Liquid assets

These are any funds readily available to you or your partner.

We may consider you to be in severe financial hardship if your liquid assets are less than:

  • the maximum fortnightly payment rate you’d get if you’re single
  • twice the maximum fortnightly payment rate you’d get if you’re in a couple.

Your maximum fortnightly payment rate includes all payments you get such as:

What expenses and costs we take into account

If you tell us you’re in severe financial hardship, we look at some of your expenses and costs. You’ll need to give us proof such as receipts.

Unavoidable or reasonable expenses

We take into account your unavoidable or reasonable expenses. We do this if 1 or more of the following waiting periods apply to you:

These expenses include:

  • repairs to, or replacement of, essential white goods in your home
  • essential repairs to your car or home
  • essential medical costs
  • school costs
  • car or motor bike registration
  • costs to do with you giving birth or adopting a child
  • insurance premiums for your vehicle or home.

They may also include replacing essential household goods if your insurance policy doesn’t cover them. The goods would need to have been either:

  • stolen
  • lost through a natural disaster.

If you have other expenses, tell us and we’ll consider them.

Reasonable living costs

We may also consider your reasonable living costs. We do this if 1 of these waiting periods apply:

  • liquid assets waiting period
  • income maintenance period.

The amount we can consider must be no more than:

  • the maximum fortnightly payment rate you’d get if you’re single
  • twice the maximum fortnightly payment rate you’d get if you’re in a couple.

The following are examples of reasonable costs of living:

  • food
  • rent or mortgage payments
  • regular medical costs
  • rates, water and sewage costs
  • gas, electricity and telephone costs
  • petrol for your vehicle
  • public transport costs.

If you have other regular costs, tell us and we can consider them.

Example of waiving the liquid assets waiting period

When Jenny finished work she had $8,400 in savings. She has claimed Newstart Allowance and has a 6 week liquid assets waiting period.

At her phone appointment, Jenny tells us she doesn’t have that much money any more. She has just spent $1,200 replacing the tyres on her car and $1,000 registering it. This reduced her liquid assets to $6,200.

This is still above the maximum fortnightly rate of Newstart Allowance for a single person. We don’t consider her to be in severe financial hardship. Jenny will still have to wait the 6 week period.

Jenny calls us 4 weeks later to say she’s been in a car accident. She’s just paid $5,000 to repair her car. She’s also spent $1000 in the last 4 weeks on costs of living. She’s now got less than $200 to live on.

We now consider Jenny to be in severe financial hardship. We’ll waive her waiting period from the date she told us about her accident because she met all these conditions:

  • her available funds are now less than the maximum payment rate for a single person
  • she gave us receipts for the tyres, registration and car repairs
  • her reasonable costs of living are less than what she would get per fortnight for her maximum payment rate.

What expenses and costs we don’t take into account

We don’t consider these types of costs:

  • repaying a loan, mortgage or credit card early (lump sum)
  • a holiday
  • buying non-essential furniture such as an outdoor setting
  • entertainment costs
  • buying or installing a swimming pool at your home
  • paving a driveway.

Page last updated: 27 June 2019