Dependent children and your income support payments

Last updated: 
20 September 2020

This page explains who dependent children are and how they may change the amount of income support you receive.

What is a dependent child?

*Note: The meaning of a dependent child for DVA income support pension or payment purposes is not the same as the meaning for Family Tax Benefit purposes.

For income support purposes, a child is considered to be a dependent child if they meet the following criteria:

Children under 16 years.

A child under 16 years is considered to be a dependent child if:

  • the person has legal responsibility either alone or jointly with another person for the day to day care, welfare and development of the child is in the person's care; or
  • the child is not a dependent child of someone else and is wholly or substantially in the person's care.

A child under 16 years cannot be considered a dependent child if:

  • they are not a full-time student; and
  • their weekly income from any source is more than $217.00.

Children 16 years or older.

A child who has turned 16 years, but is under 22 years, can still be a dependent child of the person if:

  • they are wholly or substantially dependent on the person; and
  • their income in the financial year will not exceed the personal income limit of $11,893.60 per annum; and
  • they are receiving full time education at a school, college or university.

A child over 16 years cannot be considered a dependent child if:

  • they receive a social security pension or benefit such as Youth Allowance; or
  • their personal income is more than $11,893.60 per annum. Income includes earnings from casual, part-time or full-time employment.

What pensions and payments are affected by dependent children?

Dependent children can affect the following pension or payment components:

  • rent assistance; and
  • remote area allowance.

Effect on rent assistance

Rent assistance is a non-taxable allowance to help meet the cost of your rented accommodation. If you pay rent and have any dependent children under the age of 16, your rent assistance will be paid by Centrelink as part of your Family Tax Benefit. If you pay rent, no longer receive Family Tax Benefit and only have dependent children over the age of 16 (or you do not have children), your rent assistance will be paid by DVA.

For more information on Family Tax Benefit, enquiries should be made to Centrelink either in person at a Centrelink office, by phone on 136 150 or online at www.familyassist.gov.au.

Effect on remote area allowance

Remote area allowance is a fortnightly, non-taxable payment made to pensioners and veteran payment recipients to help offset the higher than normal costs, such as transport and communication, incurred when living in remote areas of Australia.

The amount of remote area allowance is increased by $7.30 for every dependent child under the age of 16. The child does not have to live in the remote area, but must normally be in Australia.

Obligations

When you are granted an income support pension or payment and periodically after that, you will be notified of your obligations. You will be required to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of changes to your circumstances that might affect the rate of income support pension or payment you receive or your eligibility to receive that pension or payment. These obligations apply equally to trustees.

In relation to dependent children, the sorts of things you will need to tell us about within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) are if:

  • you no longer have custody or control of your dependent child;
  • your dependent child travels overseas;
  • your child ceases full time education;
  • your dependent child begins to receive payments such as Youth Allowance, Veterans’ Children Education Scheme, the Post Graduate Awards Scheme, or an Abstudy scheme; or
  • your dependent child is over 16, and their income increases above $11,893.60 per year.

Social security age pensioners (paid by DVA) have the same obligations except that if you receive remote area allowance you need to tell us within 14 days not 28 days.

Usually an overpayment of pension or payment will not occur when you have met your obligations. However, sometimes even if you have met your obligations, an overpayment can occur because we have not been able to process the change before the next payday. We do our best to avoid this occurring, but it is not always possible. To provide you with your exact entitlement we are obliged to recover overpayments of pension or payment where they do occur.