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Eligibility for social housing – income

  1. Household income
  2. Income eligibility limits
  3. Income eligibility assessment rules
  4. Disability allowance
  5. Examples of disability, medical or permanent injury expenses
  6. Proof of ongoing expenses due to disability, medical condition or permanent injury
  7. Assessable and non assessable income and assets
  8. Legitimate business expenses -  Deductable and non-deductable
  9. Proof of income and assets
  10. Previous income limits

1.Household income

Household income means the total gross (before tax) income received by each person on the application who is aged 18 years and over (or received by the client and/or their partner if either is under 18 years of age).

This includes, for example:

  • Wages.
  • Pensions or benefits.
  • Most government allowances.
  • Interest on investments.
  • Child support and maintenance payments.

2. Income eligibility limits

The social housing income eligibility limits are a range of income thresholds that specify the maximum income (before tax) that a household can earn and stay eligible for social housing.

Social housing providers determine the income limit that applies to a household by using the income allowance for different combinations of the four key household member types in the table below. To be eligible for social housing, the gross household income must be equal to or below the limit.

Household types are based on the number of adults and children in a household. Social housing providers do not take into account relationships within a household when determining household type.

Table 1: Household member types and current weekly income allowance

Household members (regardless of relationship) Gross weekly income

Single adult

$650

Each additional adult

Add $245 to the income limit

First child

Add $320

Each additional child

Add $105

Social housing providers assess all applications against these income eligibility limits. Applications that fail this assessment because their income exceeds the relevant limit may be entitled to a second assessment against a different set of income eligibility limits because their income eligibility has been preserved. This applies to applications that were received before 27 April 2005.

Table 2: Income limits, using gross assessable income, for households who applied for public housing before 27 April 2005

Household type Weekly income limit including family tax benefits

1 person

$395

2 people

$500

3 people

$580

4 people

$665

5 people

$720

6 people

$775

Each additional adult or child

Add $55

Disability Allowance

Add $55

Applying social housing eligibility income limits:

Definitions:

Adult: An adult is a person who is aged 18 years and over, or the client and/or their partner if either is under 18 years of age.

Child: A person who is under the age of 18 unless the person is the client or the client’s partner.

To determine which household income limit applies, take the following steps:

  • Step 1: Add up the assessable income for each adult in the household.
  • Step 2: Add up the number of adults in the household.
  • Step 3: Add up the number of children in the household.
  • Clients or household members who are pregnant should add their unborn child to the number of people in the household to determine the correct income limit that applies to the household. The client must supply a medical certificate confirming the pregnancy.
  • Step 4: For each adult and child, add up the income allowance from Table 1 above.
  • Step 5: To determine which household income limit applies to the household, compare the amount at Step 4 with the household income at Step 1.
  • Step 6: If the client applied before 27 April 2005 and fails to meet the income limits in Table 1, assess the application against the income limits in table 2.

Example:

In the case of a couple with three children aged 19, 14 and 12, the household consists of three adults and two children. The household’s gross assessable income is $1000 per week. Allow $650 for the first adult, and add $245 for each additional adult. Then add $320 for the first child and $105 for the second child.

Income limit calculation: $650 + $245 + $245 + $320 + $105 = $1565.

The household’s income of $1000 per week is below the income limit for the household type. This means that the household would be income eligible for social housing.

3. Income eligibility assessment rules

Clients who applied after 27 April 2005

The income eligibility assessment rules are:

  1. Family Tax Benefit A and B (including the Large Family Supplement) are included in the assessment of income.
  2. The first $5000 of each adult household member’s total amount of savings and financial assets is exempt from assessment for social housing income eligibility.
  3. A disability allowance can be added to the income eligibility limit for each adult or child in a household who can demonstrate that they have incurred expenses resulting from a medical condition, disability or permanent injury.
  4. An exceptional disability allowance can be added to the total income eligibility limit for each adult or child in a household who can demonstrate that they have incurred expenses that exceed the disability allowance resulting from a medical condition, disability or permanent injury.

Clients who applied before 27 April 2005

Clients who applied for public housing before the announcement of the Reshaping Public Housing Reforms on 27 April 2005, will have their income eligibility preserved (‘grandfathered’). This means that they can remain on the NSW Housing Register as long as they continue to meet the previous income eligibility limits in addition to all other eligibility criteria for social housing.

The income eligibility assessment rules for people who applied before 27 April 2005 are:

  1. Social housing providers will first assess the household against current income limits as described in section 2 above. If they do not meet the current limits they will be reassessed against previous (pre-27 April 2005) limits, also described in section 2 above. These households will remain on the NSW Housing Register as long as they continue to meet the current or previous income limits.
  2. Under the previous income limits, Family Tax Benefit A and B (including the Large Family Supplement) are NOT included in the assessment of income.
  3. The first $5000 of each adult household member’s total amount of savings and financial assets is exempt from assessment for social housing income eligibility.
  4. An allowance of $55 per week can be added to the income eligibility limit for each adult or child in a household who incurs expenses resulting from a medical condition, disability or permanent injury. Housing providers will also take into account any proven ongoing costs that exceed $55 per week.

4. Disability allowance and exceptional disability allowance

Members of a household who have an enduring (permanent, or likely to be permanent) disability, medical condition or permanent injury resulting in them incurring significant ongoing financial costs may qualify for a disability allowance. This allowance raises the income eligibility limit for each household member who demonstrates that they have an enduring disability, medical condition or injury.

Where a client can demonstrate significant ongoing financial costs that exceed the standard disability allowance, they may qualify for an exceptional disability allowance. Social housing providers apply this allowance instead of, but not in addition to, the disability allowance a client may have already qualified for.

Social housing providers apply these allowances in recognition of the additional financial burden that medical costs may have on the household income of clients with a disability or medical condition.

Table 1: Disability allowances as at 1 July 2020

Allowance typeAmount

Disability allowance (per person)

Add $105

Exceptional disability allowance (per person)

Add $245

5. Examples of disability, medical or permanent injury expenses

Examples of disability, medical or permanent injury expenses that a client may incur include:

  • Services provided by a health professional or specialist.
  • Ongoing transport costs including taxis and community transport costs for clients with restricted mobility.
  • Specialised personal care products that are required as a direct result of a medical condition, injury or disability.
  • Physical therapist treatments.
  • Rehabilitation and respite fees.
  • Specialised diets, regimes and supplements that have been prescribed by a health professional and are required as a direct result of a medical condition, injury or disability.
  • Specialised equipment such as wheelchairs and hoists (including ongoing maintenance costs) or aids for people who are blind or visually impaired.
  • The costs of trained assistance animals or other aids for people who are blind, visually impaired or deaf.
  • Specialised treatments and medicines that have been prescribed by a health professional.

6. Proof of ongoing expenses due to disability, medical condition or permanent injury

A household member who is in receipt of a Disability Support Pension from Centrelink does not have to provide proof of their medical costs to qualify for the disability allowance. For all other circumstances, clients must provide proof of each expense incurred for medical costs in order to qualify for the disability allowance or exceptional disability allowance, for more information see item 11 on the Evidence Requirements Information Sheet.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Participants

Where a client indicates medical expenses, considerations should be given as to whether these expenses are covered in a client’s NDIS package.  Where the medical expenses are covered in a client’s NDIS package, they will not qualify for the disability allowance.

7. Assessable and non-assesable income and assets

Income and assets are assessable for people who are aged 18 years and over, or the client and/or their partner if either is under 18 years of age.

Refer to the Assessable and non-assessable income and assets table for information.

8. Legitimate business expenses - Deductible and non-deductible

The deductible expenses must be essential to the primary purpose or type of the business.

For details of business expenses for which deduction from the gross income of a self-employed person may be made, please refer to the Legitimate business expenses - Deductible and non deductible table.

Note: that some expenses may not be treated by the Australian Taxation Office in the same manner.

9. Proof of income and assets

When being considered for social housing, a client must provide proof of all assessable income and assets received by each person on their application aged 18 years and over. If the client or their partner is under 18 years of age, they must also supply proof of income, for more information see items 8 and 9 on the Evidence Requirements Information Sheet.

If a client or household member receives or pays child support (maintenance or maintenance in kind) and the arrangement is not registered with the Department of Human Services, the client can speak to the social housing provider assessing their application about the types of evidence that will be accepted.

Assessing income where an applicant or a household member receives an amount that is less than a statutory rate

Social housing providers will assess people who receive an income that is less than the Jobseeker Payment (or other benefit to which they would otherwise be entitled), as though they receive the appropriate statutory benefit for their age and household composition. This includes people who receive wages or salaries, or who are self-employed.

Assessing income where an applicant or household member does not receive a statutory income, or receives a reduced statutory income

In some instances, an applicant or household member receives no statutory income, or a reduced statutory income, because they:

  1. Have chosen not to apply for an income to which they are entitled
  2. Are not eligible to receive a statutory income because:
    • They have gone overseas
    • They receive a Jobseeker Payment, have not sought work and have become ineligible for further payments for a specified period
    • They have received a compensation or other lump sum payment, or Centrelink deems them to have sufficient resources, and Centrelink expects them to use those resources for living expenses
  3. Have breached Centrelink requirements or are repaying a Centrelink debt.

In these situations, the social housing provider will assume that the applicant or household member receives a statutory income and will base the eligibility assessment on the statutory payment to which that person would otherwise be entitled to receive.

Participation in the Income Confirmation Scheme (ICS) or Centrelink Confirmation eServices (CCeS)

If a client receives payments from Centrelink, they can agree to Centrelink providing details of their Centrelink income to DCJ Housing through the ICS; or to a participating community housing provider through CCeS. If the client provides their consent to the relevant provider, the provider may use Centrelink’s advice of the assessable income to determine the client’s income eligibility for social housing.

If a client’s income changes, the ICS and CCeS do not automatically provide a housing provider with the updated income details from Centrelink. Therefore, if there have been any changes to the assessable income of any member on an application, they must inform the relevant housing provider within 28 days of the change. They do not need to provide details of the Centrelink benefit change, as the provider will then request this electronically from Centrelink.

If any member of the application participates in the ICS or CCeS and has an income in addition to their Centrelink payment, they may need to give the relevant housing provider proof of this income separately if the social housing provider is not able to obtain that information in an acceptable form from Centrelink.

10. Previous income limits

Social housing eligibility

This section presents various social housing income eligibility limits from before 24 November 1986 to 30 June 2020.

Table 1: Social housing income eligibility limits from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 (using gross assessable weekly income).  

Household Members (regardless of relationship)

Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$640

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $240 to the income limit

First child (under 18 years)

Add $315

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $105

Table 2: Social housing income eligibility limits from 2 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 (using gross assessable weekly income).  

Household Members (regardless of relationship)

Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$625

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $235 to the income limit

First child (under 18 years)

Add $305

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $100

Table 3: Social housing income eligibility limits from 3 July 2017 to 2 July 2018 (using gross assessable weekly income).  

Household Members (regardless of relationship)

Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$610

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $230 to the income limit

First child (under 18 years)

Add $300

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $100

Table 4: Social housing income eligibility limits from 1 July 2016 to 2 July 2017 (using gross assessable weekly income).  

Household Members (regardless of relationship)

Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$595

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $225 to the income limit

First child (under 18 years)

Add $290

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $95

Table 5: Social housing income eligibility limits from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household Members (regardless of relationship) Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$585

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $225 to the income limit

First child (under 18 years)

Add $285

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $95

Table 6: Social housing income eligibility limits from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household Members (regardless of relationship) Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$575

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $220 to the income limit

First child (under 18 years)

Add $280

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $90

Table 7: Social housing income eligibility limits from 18 March 2013 to 30 June 2014 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household Members (regardless of relationship) Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$560

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $215 to income limit

First child (under 18 years)

Add $275

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $90

Table 8: Social housing income eligibility limits from 2 July 2012 to 17 March 2013 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household Members (regardless of relationship) Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$535

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $200 to income limit

First child (under 18 years)

Add $265

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $90

Table 9: Social housing income eligibility limits from 1 July 2011 to 1 July 2012 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household Members (regardless of relationship) Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$525

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $200

First child (under 18 years)

Add $260

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $85

Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $85

Exceptional Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $200

Table 10: Social housing income eligibility limits from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household Members (regardless of relationship) Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$500

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $190

First child (under 18 years)

Add $245

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $80

Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $80

Exceptional Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $190

Table 11: Social housing income eligibility limits from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household Members (regardless of relationship) Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$460

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $155

First child (under 18 years)

Add $235

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $80

Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $80

Exceptional Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $155

Table 12: Social housing income eligibility limits from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household Members (regardless of relationship) Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$440

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $150

First child (under 18 years)

Add $225

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $75

Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $75

Exceptional Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $150

Table 13: Social housing income eligibility limits from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2008 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household Members (regardless of relationship) Gross Weekly Income

Single adult

$410

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $140

First child (under 18 years)

Add $210

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $70

Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $70

Exceptional Disability Allowance (per person)

Add $140

Table 14: Social housing income eligibility limits from 29 January 1992 to 30 June 2006 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household size Weekly Income

1 Person

$395

2 Persons

$500

3 Persons

$580

4 Persons

$665

5 Persons

$720

6 Persons

$775

Each additional adult (18 years or over) and child (less than 18 years)

Add $55 per additional person per week

Disability allowance (per person minimum)

Add $55 per person

Table 15: Social housing income eligibility limits from 24 November 1987 to 28 January 1992 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household size Weekly Income

1 Person

$370

2 Persons

$460

3 Persons

$530

4 Persons

$600

5 Persons

$650

6 Persons

$695

Each additional adult (18 years or over) and child (less than 18 years)

Add $45 per additional person per week

Disability allowance (per person minimum)

Add $46 per person

Table 16: Social housing income eligibility limits from 24 November 1986 to 23 November 1987 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Household size Weekly Income

1 Person

$352

2 Persons

$440

3 Persons

$506

4 Persons

$572

5 Persons

$616

6 Persons

$660

Each additional adult (18 years or over) and child (less than 18 years)

Add $44 per additional person per week

Table 17: Social housing income eligibility limits before 24 November 1986 (using gross assessable weekly income).

Bedroom category Weekly Income

Singles

$201

1 Bedroom

$250

2 Bedrooms

$300

3 Bedrooms

$325

4 Bedrooms

$350

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Last updated: 13 Sep 2019