Welfare Rights Review

Upcoming changes to social security law

The following is a summary of upcoming changes to social security and family assistance law and policy.

Abolition of Schoolkids Bonus from July 2016

Schoolkids Bonus is paid in two instalments per year to families in receipt of Family Tax Benefit Part A with an income of $100,000 or less.  Current annual rates are $856 for a child in secondary school and $430 for a child in primary school. The last instalment of Schoolkids Bonus will be paid in July 2016.

From 1 July 2016 couples with children aged 13 and older no longer eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part B

Family Tax Benefit Part B is paid to single parent families or two parent families with a single income earner (or where the second income earner has a low income).  It may be paid to families with a child up to the end of the year they turn 18, if in full-time secondary study and is currently worth up to $4339.85 per year (including the end of year supplement).  From 1 July 2016, couples with a youngest child aged 13 and over will no longer be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part B (except grandparent couples).

Alert: Grandparent couples in receipt of Family Tax Benefit Part B should advise Centrelink to ensure it is aware they are caring for a grandchild, especially if the grandchild is turning 13 or older.

From 1 July 2016 the portability of Family Tax Benefit Part A will reduce to 6 weeks

Currently, the period a person can normally be paid Family Tax Benefit Part A outside Australia is 56 weeks.  From 1 July 2016, this will reduce to six weeks per absence.

From 1 July 2016 the large family supplement for families receiving Family Tax Benefit will be abolished

The large family supplement for a fourth or subsequent child, added to a families’ rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A, will be abolished.

From 1 July 2016 the family pool rules for Youth Allowance will be extended

The family pool rules take into account the number of children supported by a person’s parents when assessing the impact of parental income on their rate of Youth Allowance.  Essentially, the more children supported by their parents, the less impact the family income has on their rate of Youth Allowance.  Currently, only children up to age 16 are included in the family pool.  From 1 July 2016, the family pool rules will now include all children in respect of which Family Tax Benefit is paid, including senior secondary school age children, for the purpose of applying the parental means test to Youth Allowance recipients.

Last instalment of the Income Support Bonus to be paid in September 2016

The Income Support Bonus is a tax free payment made twice annually to recipients of qualifying payments in March and September.  Qualifying payments include Newstart Allowance, Special Benefit, Parenting Payment and youth and student payments.  Current instalment rates for a single person are $111.50.  The last instalment of the Income Support Bonus will be paid in September 2016.