RELATIONSHIPS: EFFECT ON PAYMENTS
Your circumstances of your relationship may effect your payment along the following lines:
Married (YA Couple)
If you are legally married (and not separated) you’ll be treated as independent for Youth Allowance. That is, Centrelink will not look at your parent’s income.
If you’re married your partner’s income and assets will be assessed and may affect your payment.
Registered same or different sex relationship (YA Couple)
If you are in a registered relationship (whether same sex or different sex) you’ll be treated as ‘Independent’ for Youth Allowance. That is, Centrelink will not look at your parent’s income.
However they will assess your partner’s income and assets and it may affect your payment.
De-facto relationship for at least 12 months (YA Couple)
If you are assessed as in a de-facto same sex or different sex relationship and have been living together for 12 months you’ll be treated as independent for Youth Allowance, on the basis that you are part of a Youth Allowance (YA) Couple.
If you are assessed as in a de-facto relationship and have been living together for 12 months your partner’s income and assets will be assessed and may affect your payment.
De-facto relationship for less than 12 months
If you are assessed as in a same sex or different sex de-facto relationship but have not been living together for 12 months you will not be treated as independent for Youth Allowance on this basis.
If you are assessed as in a de-facto relationship and you are otherwise assessed as ‘independent’ (e.g. because you are 22) then your partner’s income and assets will be assessed and may effect your payment. This applies even though you may have not been together for 12 months.
What determines if a you are in a de-facto relationship
The Social Security Act (s.4(3)) says
“In forming an opinion about the relationship between 2 people” The Centrelink decision maker is “to have regard to all the circumstances of the relationship including, in particular, the following matters
(a) the financial aspects of the relationship, including:
(i) any joint ownership of real estate or other major assets and any joint liabilities; and
(ii) any significant pooling of financial resources especially in relation to major financial commitments; and
(iii) any legal obligations owed by one person in respect of the other person; and
(iv) the basis of any sharing of day‑to‑day household expenses
(b) the nature of the household, including:
(i) any joint responsibility for providing care or support of children; and
(ii) the living arrangements of the people; and
(iii) the basis on which responsibility for housework is distributed;
(c) the social aspects of the relationship, including:
(i) whether the people hold themselves out as married to, or in a de facto relationship with, each other; and
(ii) the assessment of friends and regular associates of the people about the nature of their relationship; and
(iii) the basis on which the people make plans for, or engage in, joint social activities;
(d) any sexual relationship between the people;
(e) the nature of the people’s commitment to each other, including:
(i) the length of the relationship; and
(ii) the nature of any companionship and emotional support that the people provide to each other; and
(iii) whether the people consider that the relationship is likely to continue indefinitely; and
(iv) whether the people see their relationship as a marriage‑like relationship or a de facto relationship.’
More information about how Centrelink determine ‘de-facto’ is available at:
De facto – Not if living apart permanently
The Centrelink decision maker must not form the opinion that the relationship is a de facto relationship if you are ‘living separately and apart’… ‘on a permanent or indefinite basis’.
De facto – Overall determination
Centrelink should make a decision about you being in a de-facto relationship based on the elements list in the Act (see earlier) and your circumstances overall.
They may put emphasis on certain elements. A longer time together may be relevant to the issue of commitment. Sharing a room may be relevant to any sexual relationship. Other people in the house or not may be an indicator one way or another. Having a child with someone you are living might well suggest a de-facto relationship.
You need to decide if overall your circumstances fit the listed criteria, or not, and put your case to Centrelink.
You might be seeking independence as a member of a YA Couple and arguing that you are in a de-facto relationship (and have been for 12 months).
If you are otherwise independent and wish to avoid a partner income test you might be arguing that you are not de-facto. Whatever the case, it is OK to disagree with Centrelink but it is important you provide full, accurate and truthful information to them.
Seek advice from a caseworker if you wish to appeal a decision you disagree with.
Changes in circumstances
If the nature of your relationship changes write to Centrelink to inform them, as this may change your payment.
Information and figures current at March 27, 2020. (CL-CPL 27.3.20)
Important Notice and Disclaimer:
This information does not constitute legal advice. Check with a caseworker for the most up-to-date information. Do not accept verbal advice by itself from any source including Centrelink. Get a decision in writing. Without this subsequent appeals or backdating are at risk.