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Centrelink & Youth Allowance (1 Viewer)

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Mar 9, 2004
The amount of Centrelink related questions in this forum is astonishing. So here is a thread, hopefully answering your many questions.
I may have quoted the site here and there to guide you.

Centrelink Student Line: 132490

This is the number you can report your income, inquire about anything student related etc. It is an automated prompter. If they do not understand what you're saying, they will still put you through to a Customer Service Officer. It may ask you for your Customer Reference Number (CRN), which is a number given to you if you're registered under Centrelink (currently obtaining an allowance/pension etc)

Centrelink Site: www.centrelink.gov.au

Common Questions

How do I Qualify for a Youth Allowance?

You may get Youth Allowance if you are:

  • aged 16-24 and studying or undertaking a Australian Apprenticeship full time (or aged 15 if considered independent), or
  • aged 16-20 and looking for work full time (or aged 15 if considered independent), undertaking a combination of approved activities like Work for the Dole or volunteering, or have a temporary exemption from the Activity Test (for example, due to illness), or
  • aged 25 and over and studying or undertaking a Australian Apprenticeship full time, if you were getting Youth Allowance immediately before turning 25 and are still doing the same course or Australian Apprenticeship. (Other full time students aged 25 and over can apply for Austudy), and
  • meet residence requirements.

If you are under 18, and have not completed Year 12, you are usually required to be in full time education, undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship or training to qualify for Youth Allowance, although some exemptions apply.

If you are not studying or undertaking a full time traineeship and you are getting Youth Allowance, you must show Centrelink you are actively looking for work by meeting the Activity Test. If you have a disability and are studying, you may not need to study full time to be eligible for Youth Allowance or you may be able to get Disability Support Pension instead. However if you have a short term illness or injury which prevents you from studying full time you still may be able to get Youth Allowance for the period of the illness or injury.

Please Note:
Masters and Doctorate level studies are not approved courses for Youth Allowance.

Full Time Study Means
  • your course attracts an equivalent full-time student load (EFTSL) of 0.375 or more in a teaching period
  • your course is considered full-time by the institution where you are studying
  • you are doing at least 75% of the full time workload OR
  • if none of these apply, you are undertaking at least 15 hours of study per week.

You may also be considered a full-time student if your minimum workload is no less than 66% of the normal full-time workload because of:
  • the institution's normal requirements of the course
  • a specific direction in writing from your deputy principal, academic registrar or equivalent officer or
  • a written recommendation from your deputy principal, academic registrar or equivalent officer for academic or vocational reasons.


How Do I Know Whether My Parents Income/Assets Allow Me To Receive Youth Allowance?

If you are sure your parents do not qualify you to get Youth Allowance, skip this section. The following is a little long and complicated. It is best to talk to your parents about it. Chances are they already know or are thinking of inquiring with Centrelink. But if you must, read on:

You parents are evaluated through two tests, a Parental Income Test and Famiy Actual Means Test

Parental Income Test:

This income test is effective from 20 March 2007. A parental income test applies if you are not considered independent.

  • If your parent/s get an income support payment, the parental income and assets tests do not apply, although the Family Actual Means Test may apply.
  • If your parent/s have a low-income Health Care Card, the Parental Income test does not apply, but the Parental Assets and the Family Actual Means Test does apply.

If your parent/s taxable income for the 2005 - 2006 financial year is $30,750 or less (plus additional amounts for each dependent child other than yourself), your payment will not be affected by the income test.

If your parent/s have other dependent children, their taxable income can increase by the following amounts before it affects your payment:

* $1230 for the first other dependent child aged under 16
* $2562 for each additional dependent child aged under 16
* $3792 for each dependent child:
o aged between 16-24 in full-time study or
o aged between 16-20 and seeking employment or
o who receives a boarding allowance or second home allowance under the Assistance for Isolated Children scheme
* $7585 for a tertiary student getting living away from home rate of Youth Allowance where there are two such children in the family.

The rate of payment payable is reduced by $1 for every $4 of income over these amounts.

After applying parental income test, a personal income test is applied.

In some circumstances (where parental income decreases/increases substantially) your parent/s income in the current tax year is used.

Family Actual Means Test

This means test is effective from 20 March 2007. The Family Actual Means (i.e. family spending and savings) Test applies if you get ABSTUDY or Youth Allowance, are not independent and where one or both of your parents in the previous financial year:

  • had an interest in a trust, private company or unlisted public company
  • was self employed (except as a sole trader engaged wholly or mainly in primary production) or a partner in a partnership
  • earned in excess of A$2500 (including tax exempt income) from a source in Norfolk Island or outside Australia
  • was a wage or salary earner who claimed or will claim a tax deduction for a business loss (whether current or carried forward) that does not consist only of a passive investment loss in partnership income tax returns
  • had an interest in assets held outside Australia in excess of A$2500 or is a migrant who first entered Australia under a business skills category (business migrant) in the last 10 years.

In certain circumstances family actual means in the current tax year may be used.

Where a family member gets Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payment the Family Actual Means Test does not apply.


My Parent's Income/Assets Do Not Qualify For Me To Receive Youth Allowance. Are There Other Ways?

Yes. By default you a qualified as a dependent (of your parents). By applying for "independence", you are asking Centrelink to measure YOUR income, assets and situation as an individual.

When Am I Considered Independent for Youth Allowance Purposes?

If you apply for Youth Allowance, you will be assessed to see if you are considered independent or not. You only need to meet one of the criteria below to be considered independent.

If you are considered independent, parental income and a family actual means test will not be taken into account when working out how much you get paid. If you are considered dependent, a Parental Income Test and a Family Actual Means Test will be taken into account when working out how much you get paid.

You are considered independent if you are aged 16 or over and:
  • have been out of school at least 18 months and earned an amount equivalent to 75 per cent of the National Training Wage Award Rate in an 18 month period before lodging a claim* or
  • have worked to support yourself for at least 18 months, working full-time at least 30 hours a week during the preceding two years (or for a period or periods of 12 months if you are considered disadvantaged), or
  • have worked part-time for at least 15 hours a week for at least two years since last leaving school, or
  • are 25 or more and a full-time student (in special circumstances), or
  • have been assessed as having a partial capacity to work as determined by a Job Capacity Assessment (or a Better Assessment completed before 1 July 2006). You will be assessed as independent only for the period you are assessed as having a partial capacity to work. Please Note: This criteria does not apply if you are undertaking full-time education or an Australian Apprenticeship.

You are also considered independent if you are aged 15-24 and:

  • are above school leaving age in your state or territory, and
  • are a refugee, an orphan or it is unreasonable for you to live at home, or
  • are in state care, or only stopped being in state care because of your age
  • have, or have had a dependent child
  • are or have been, married , including living in a marriage-like relationship for 12 months or more, or six months (in special circumstances)
  • have parents who cannot exercise their responsibilities.

To qualify as independent on the grounds that you have been in a de facto or marriage-like relationship for at least 12 months, the 12 months must have been while you were over the age of consent in the state or territory you live in.


*The part marked in bold red is the most common way to obtain independency for most full time students. This may sound daunting, but overall worth it, because afterwards, you can relax a little and obtain youth allowance.

75 per cent of the National Training Wage Award Rate currently means $18,525 in an 18 month period as of Dec 2006 - Jul 2007. This amount changes every 6 months based on the National Training Wage Award rate. Use this figure as an approx amount; chances are the amount will increase a little higher (it may increase by $500-$1000 or so). Here is a general guide of the past figures. October 2007 was $18 850.

You may want to explore other avenues. Please do not consider the "have parents who cannot exercise their responsibilities" or "unsuitable to live at home" reason as your personal revenge on your parents. This is usually for people with dire family problems (such as domestic violence) which usually involves the consent of your parents (for example, the house is far too crowded). If you do not wish to have your parents to make a statement, you must obtain a third party form, where someone of respectable stature (welfare teacher, counsellor, psychologist) can claim that your parents cannot exercise their responsibilities. These sorts of avenues are quite difficult to explain. It is best that you call the number provided at the top of this post and talk to a customer service officer.

Should Centrelink refuse your independence claim, you can always appeal your case.


How Much Youth Allowance Do I Get?

You can find your situation and payment details here.
You might also be eligible for other payments on top of Youth Allowance. The most common is Rent Assistance, which pays a percentage extra for you, depending on the rent you pay. This also means more forms etc. In my personal experience (late 2006 - early 2007) I obtained an extra $30 or so of rent assistance per week for my $170 a week rent. This might not seem much, but it makes a hell of a difference if you're living away from home.


How Does Working Affect My Payments?

Report Your Gross Income Fortnightly

You must report your gross income each fortnight to Centrelink via phone or internet (you must apply for internet self-service for the net). You must report to them according to when you received your payslip (not when you actually received the money into your bank account). If you do not make your report on time, you won't receive your payments until you do so.

Make sure you keep your payslips with you; approximately 8 weeks history of your income. Centrelink makes random checks a lot. When (not if, but when) Centrelink asks you to prove your income, you must be able to present your payslips of the last 8 weeks. Charges may apply if you cannot.

Payments are Taxable

Any payment by Centrelink is classed as taxable income. You must report your payments at the end of the financial year. By default, Centrelink will not tax your payments. You should ask Centrelink to put away a certain amount each fortnight, just in case.

Deducted Payment

If you earn over a certain amount in a fortnight, you might get less or no Youth Allowance for that particular fortnight.

Before I go into how much you’re able to earn while still obtaining Youth Allowance, I want to explain to you what a Student Income Bank is. A Student Income Bank is like phone credit, where you accumulate credit when you are studying full time, without a job. You would’ve obtained a substantial amount if you’ve been receiving youth allowance since you were 16 etc. You can also obtain it through full time university, so long as you do not work.

According to the amount in your Student Income Bank, you are able earn a certain amount without letting it affect your Youth Allowance payments. For example, I may have 12309 points in my Student Income Bank. I earnt $1200 this fortnight, and reported it. In other cases, I would not have received Youth Allowance because of my huge income this fortnight. But because of my Student Income Bank, I am allowed to earn my $1200, and still obtain youth allowance payment for that fortnight. The purpose of this Student Income Bank is that you as a student may have a smooth transition from your education to the workforce. Of course, your income bank will not last forever.

Here is a table of how much you may earn while still obtaining Youth Allowance.

Exactly How Much You Will Get Deducted:

I cannot find the exact quote from Centrelink, but:

blue_chameleon said:
Every dollar you earn above $260 in each fortnight will reduce your youth allowance by about 25c in each dollar. If you dont earn that amount though, the difference is added to an 'income bank', where you can continue this until a maximum of $6000 is achieved. Once this happens, you can earn over the $260/fortnight and any additional earnings will simply reduce the amount you have in the 'income bank'.

For example, I used to work at a fast food place, and would earn about $200 a fortnight. So roughly, each week I had $60 go into my 'income bank'. Then I stopped work, and had no earnings, so they put $260 each fortnight into my income bank. When I started working, I had about $2300 that I could earn, and still receive my full amount of Youth Allowance.
Don't lie about your income. Chances are you will get caught.


Will Centrelink Backtrack My Payments?

Yes. Centrelink will backtrack payments according to the time you applied, not according to the time of your situation. For example, you moved out on the 1st of May. You applied for Rent Assistance on the 23rd of May. Let's say they took 2 weeks to process and approve your application. You will be paid Rent Assistance from the 23rd, rather than the 1st because it is when you applied.

So whenever you change your circumstances, you should tell Centrelink as soon as possible.


How Will Travelling Overseas Affect My Payments?

If you are a full-time student you may still continue to receive Youth Allowance for up to 13 weeks if you leave Australia temporarily (for example for a holiday during your semester breaks). You may also continue to receive Youth Allowance if you leave Australia to study at an institution in another country with the study counting towards your Australian course. The length of time you last spend in Australia may affect your payment during your next absence from Australia. All customers must notify Centrelink of plans to travel outside Australia or their Youth Allowance may be stopped.


How Long Can I Take To Finish A Course?

If you are a secondary student, there is no limit to the time you can take to complete a course, as long as you remain a full-time student. However, you cannot usually get Youth Allowance for more than two attempts at Year 12 unless you can establish that a previous attempt failed as a result of circumstances beyond your control. If you are studying a tertiary level course, you will need to finish your course within the allowable time for the course you are doing. For example a course that normally takes:

• one year or less, your allowable time is twice the length of the course
• more than one year to finish, and the subjects are semester based, your allowable time is the length of the course plus six months
• more than one year to finish, and one of your current subjects is year based, your allowable time is the length of the course plus one year.


I hope that settles it for most people.

If you have any more questions, it is probably best that you call 132490. It is an automated prompter. If they do not understand what you're saying, they will still put you through to a Customer Service Officer so you can ask some questions.


-- Updated 3rd May 2008
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