Dependent or independent

If you apply for Youth Allowance, we’ll assess you as being dependent or independent for payment.


If you’re 21 or younger, you’re dependent unless you meet one of the conditions that make you independent. This means your parents’ or guardians’ income may affect if you get a payment and how much you get.


If you’re 22 or older, we consider you independent.

If you’re younger than 22, you may be independent if any of the following apply. You:

  • can show you support yourself through work
  • are, or have been, married or are in a registered relationship
  • live in a de facto relationship as a member of a couple for at least 12 months
  • have, or have had, a dependent child
  • are a job seeker assessed as unable to work over 30 hours a week
  • are unable to live at home due to extreme circumstances
  • have parents who can’t look after you
  • are a refugee and your parents don’t live in Australia
  • are an orphan and haven’t been legally adopted
  • are in state care, including foster care.

Independent through work

Full time work

You may be independent if you support yourself through full time paid work. You must work full time, for at least 18 months within any 2 year period. You don’t need to work for 18 months in a row, or in the same job. Full time work is an average of 30 hours a week.

You may not work 30 hours every week. If this is the case, you can average your work hours over a period of up to 13 weeks.

Paid work includes:

  • paid leave
  • overseas work
  • unpaid leave due to employer shutdown outside of your control
  • full time apprenticeships and traineeships.

See if you’re considered independent using the check independence through work history tool.

Part time work or earnings for rural and remote students

You may be independent if you meet all the following criteria:

  • your parental home is in an inner regional, outer regional, remote or very remote area
  • you need to move away from your parental home to study
  • you’ve worked since leaving secondary school.

Use the Student Regional Area Search to find out which area your family home is in.

Since leaving secondary school, you need to have either:

You can’t include hours worked and income earned while still in secondary school. You need to give us proof of your work.

It also depends on your parents’ or guardians’ income.

Your parents can have a combined parental income of $160,000 per year. There’s also an extra $10,000 added to the parental income limit for each of your eligible siblings.

For example, Luke lives with his mum and dad and his 2 school-aged sisters.  His sisters are eligible siblings so the combined parental income limit cut-off is $180,000.

Eligible siblings are any of your siblings under 22 years of age unless they are one of the following:

  • living away from home and are, or have been, a member of a couple
  • living away from home and have, or have had, a dependent child
  • getting Youth Allowance or Disability Support Pension as an independent person because they are unable to live at home 
  • in state care.

You can also pick which financial year you use to calculate parental income. You can choose from 1 of 3 financial years – whichever is most beneficial for you. It can be either the financial year:

  • before you take a gap year, referred to as pre-gap year
  • of your gap year, referred to as base year
  • following your gap year, referred to as post base year.

Unable to live at home

You may be independent if you can’t live at home due to extreme circumstances. This includes family breakdown, violence, or serious risk to your safety and wellbeing. A social worker will assess this if you’re under 18.

Page last updated: 3 September 2019