Len Jaffit

Senior Technical Specialist, Social Security Law, Victoria Legal Aid

Rehana Chowdhry

Lawyer, Victoria Legal Aid

Tim Noonan

Lawyer, Victoria Legal Aid

Julie Riva

Lawyer, Victoria Legal Aid

Oympia Sarrinikolaou

Lawyer, Victoria Legal Aid

Key legislation related to social security

Last updated

1 July 2021

Services Australia

On 1 February 2020, the Australian Government Department of Human Services was renamed Services Australia. This department delivers payments and services through Centrelink, Medicare Australia, Child Support and Hearing Australia. For ease of reference, this chapter refers to ‘Centrelink’.

Key legislation

Social security law is found in the:

  • Social Security Act 1991 (Cth) (‘SS Act’);
  • Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (Cth) (‘SSA Act’);
  • Social Security (International Agreements) Act 1999 (Cth);
  • A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 (Cth) (‘Family Assistance Act’); and
  • A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999 (Cth).

Guides to social security

Readers are encouraged to refer to A Guide to Australian Government Payments. This guide is produced by Centrelink and contains the basic details of all Centrelink payments (including qualification, rates, and information about income and assets tests). The guide is updated twice-yearly; the current version is dated 1 July 2021. Cross-references to this guide are provided in this chapter.

Legal practitioners should also read The Social Security Guide; Centrelink officers use this guide to assess eligibility for payments.

Recent social security reforms

As at 1 July 2021, the following payments have either ended, or will end in 2022:

  • Newstart Allowance (closed: 20 March 2020);
  • Widow B Pension (closed: 20 March 2020);
  • Wife Pension (closed: 20 March 2020);
  • Bereavement Allowance (closed to new entrants on 20 March 2020 and will end completely when all recipients complete their bereavement period);
  • Sickness Allowance (ended 20 September 2020);
  • Widow Allowance (closed to new entrants on 1 July 2018 and ends on 1 January 2022);
  • Partner Allowance (ends: 1 January 2022).

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