O'Donnell Kerr Financial Planners
  • 19 February, 2020

Centrelink and Waiting Periods?

When testing your eligibility for a payment from Centrelink you need to remember that, depending on your circumstances and the benefit that you are applying for, you may have to serve a waiting period before the payment commences.

There are several different waiting periods that can apply, but I thought it might be useful if I were to provide a brief overview of the more common waiting periods and to what benefits they do apply.

1. Ordinary waiting period – this waiting period is one-week from the date you apply and is applicable to Newstart, Sickness and Parenting payments. For example, if I were to apply for Newstart on the 18th of February my payment would not start until the 25th of February. This period can be waived if you are reclaiming a payment within 13 weeks of your last payment or you are in severe financial hardship.

This waiting period is not applicable to those people applying for the Age Pension or the Disability Support Pension.

2. Liquid Assets waiting period –this waiting period is up to a maximum of 13 weeks and is applicable for Newstart or Sickness Allowances.

The waiting period is based on your liquid funds. These funds can include your cash on hand, bank accounts, shares and other investments available on short notice. Liquid assets do not include monies inside superannuation accounts which you do not have access to.

So how does it work? If you are single and you have $5,500 in liquid assets there is a one week waiting period. Every $500 above this amount adds another week up to the maximum of 13 weeks which would be applicable if you had more than $11,500 in liquid assets.

For a couple it is a similar process, except the amounts are doubled and the maximum period is served when a couple’s liquid assets reach $23,000.

This waiting period is applied from the date you last worked (not from the date you apply) so you could self-serve the period by delaying the date you apply for benefits.

This waiting period is not applicable for those people applying for the Age Pension or the Disability Support Pension.

3. Income Maintenance waiting period – unlike the liquid assets or the ordinary waiting period, this waiting period is not capped and can extend for a long period of time.

The waiting period can be applied to people applying for Newstart and Sickness Allowance as well as the Disability Support Pension.

The Income Maintenance Period is relevant if an employer pays a person leaving their employment a lump sum of money that covers their entitlement to any unused annual or long service leave, or if the person receives a redundancy payment.

For example, if a person received a payment of long service leave, annual leave and redundancy which was equal to 26 weeks of their normal salary, they would have to serve a waiting period of 26 weeks from the date they last worked.

It should be noted that the Income Maintenance and Liquid Assets waiting periods can be served concurrently.

It should also be noted, and this is very important, these waiting periods do not apply to a person making an application for the Age Pension.

Like Superannuation and Taxation legislation, the Social Security legislation is not easy to understand. I have provided a brief overview of the main waiting periods but there are several other waiting periods that can apply, depending on your circumstances.

If you do think any of the situations I have mentioned apply to you as an individual or as a member of a couple, it is important that you talk to someone who understands the legislation and can help you navigate what some have described as a “minefield”.

As a footnote to this article, from March 2020 Newstart and Sickness Allowance will become JobSearch and there is legislation currently before the parliament to increase the Liquid Assets Waiting Period from 13 weeks to 26 weeks effective from the 1st of July 2020.

Share This Artcle :