Dependent or independent

If you’re under 21, the amount of DSP you get depends on whether we assess you as dependent or independent.

When you claim DSP, we don’t need to assess your independence if you’re either:

  • 21 or older
  • 20 years or younger with a dependent child in your care.

In either of these cases, you can get the maximum DSP payment rate for your situation.

If you’re under 21 without a dependent child, we’ll assess if you’re dependent or independent. This will affect the amount of DSP you can get. We’ll ask you questions relating to your status when you complete the DSP claim. You may need to give us proof of your living situation, relationship or work status when you claim.

Whether you’re dependent or independent, your parents’ or guardians’ income won’t affect how much payment you can get.

Relationship status

We may assess you as independent if you’re 20 or younger and any of the following apply. You:

  • are, or have been, married or are in a registered relationship
  • are, or have been, a member of a couple for at least 1 year
  • are, or have been, a member of a couple for 6 months in exceptional circumstances
  • have had a dependent child and the child is no longer in your care.

Absence of parental care

We may assess you as independent if you’re 20 or younger and any of the following apply. You:

  • have parents who can’t look after you
  • are a refugee and your parents don’t live in Australia
  • are an orphan
  • are in state care, including foster care or only stopped being in state care because of your age.

Work arrangement

If you’re 20 or younger, you may be independent if you’ve previously supported yourself through work

Special conditions

Under certain conditions, we may consider you to be independent.

Special conditions that apply between 18 and 20

If you’re between 18 and 20, we’ll assess you as independent if you’re living away from home for any reason.

Special conditions that apply at 16 or 17

If you’re 16 or 17 and living away from home because of your medical condition, we may consider you independent.

If you’re 16 or 17, we may assess you as independent if you can’t live at home in extreme circumstances. This includes:

  • family breakdown
  • violence
  • serious risk to your safety and wellbeing.

A department social worker will make this assessment.

Change of circumstances

It’s important to tell us if your circumstances change, so we can give you the right payment.

Changes in your circumstances may affect your rate of payment.

Page last updated: 10 December 2019