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3.2.1 Overview of Income Support Supplement (ISS)

Last amended 
4 July 2022

Last amended: 1 October 2009

ISS payment




Income support supplement (ISS), is an income support payment paid only to certain war widow/widowers. The rate of ISS payable is limited to a ceiling rate, and is indexed each March and September in line with movements in the cost of living and average wages.    

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Eligibility for higher maximum rate

A higher maximum rate may apply if the person has been in continuous receipt of a social security pension, from 1 November 1986 and became a war widow/widower on or before that date. A higher maximum may also apply where a person's rate of war widow's/widower's pension has been reduced due to the receipt of certain forms of compensation.    

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Eligibility criteria for ISS

There is no age restriction on eligibility for income support supplement. Once a person gains eligibility for income support supplement, that eligibility cannot be lost (unless the eligibility was acquired through fraud). It may be to the person's tax advantage to apply for invalidity income support supplement if they are permanently incapacitated for work and are under age pension age

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Allowances and benefits accessed by ISS recipient

The following allowances and benefits, can be accessed by a person receiving income support supplement, if the person meets the relevant eligibility criteria:

Assessment of ISS rate

The rate of income support supplement is assessed with reference to the following:

Other issues to be considered

Other issues that need to be taken into account:

  • Obligations for information on pensioner obligations    More →
  • Appeals for information on how to appeal a decision    More →



ISS is an income support payment that may be paid to eligible war widows and widowers under the VEA and persons receiving wholly dependent partners' compensation under the MRCA, and who satisfy the means tests. It is an indexed rate, increased twice-yearly in March and September in line with changes to the cost of living and/or average wages. Income Support Supplement (ISS) legislation commenced on 20 March 1995. It is a payment created to replace the ceiling rate income support age, carer, wife and disability support pensions, paid to war widows/widowers by Centrelink.



A war widow/widower is generally a person who immediately before their partners death, was the partner of, or was legally married to:

Refer to 5E(1) of the VEA for the full definition.



The ceiling rate of service pension and income support supplement (ISS) is applied to all war widows/widowers when assessing the rate of pension. This amount was previously frozen at $124.90 per fortnight, however, since legislation was introduced in September 2002, is now indexed twice yearly in line with percentage increases in the maximum rate service pension. A higher ceiling rate can apply, however, in the following cases:

If a person:

  • became a war widow/widower-pensioner before 1 November 1986,

  • has continually received service pension, social security pension or ISS since that date, and

  • the rate of pension immediately before that date was more than $120.10

in such a case the ceiling rate is equal to the pre-November 1986 rate plus 4%.

If a person:

  • is a person to whom ISS is payable,

  • is not permanently blind, and

  • whose War Widow's/Widower's Pension paid under Part II or IV of the VEA is reduced,

the ceiling rate is the sum of the ceiling rate as calculated above and the amount of the reduction in the Part II or Part IV pension. The maximum ceiling rate cannot exceed the maximum rate of single service pension. For ceiling rates refer to SCH6-A4 to A9 of VEA. The amount of increase to the ceiling rate pension under Part II or Part IV is worked out by using the formula in SCH6-A9 of the VEA.



The term social security pension is defined in Section 5Q(1) VEA to mean:

  • age pension;
  • disability support pension;
  • carer payment;
  • pension PP (single);
  • sole parent pension;
  • special needs pension.

As benefits (pensions) may change, for the most current definition access this link to the Social Security Act 1991



Age Pension Age refers to pension age as defined under the Social Security Act 1991, that is, pension age for people other than veterans.



Rent Assistance is an allowance which may be paid to a service pensioner, income support supplement (ISS) or veteran payment recipient to assist in meeting the cost of rental accommodation.

To receive rent assistance a pensioner must be paying rent (other than Government rent) for accommodation in Australia, and the amount paid must exceed a certain threshold.



A bereavement payment is an amount payable in respect of a deceased pensioner that represents a continuation of the pensioner's entitlement for a period following the death (the bereavement period).

The payment can be made as:

  • a lump sum in advance, or
  • a continuation of the deceased person's pension instalments, or
  • a combination of both, or
  • a portion of the rate of pension payable to the surviving member of a couple identified as a separate amount only for taxation purposes.

Remote area allowance is a supplementary payment added to the rate of income support pension where the pensioner's usual place of residence is situated in a remote area, and where the pensioner is physically present in the remote area.

Education Entry Payment (EdEP) is a payment to assist eligible pensioners with the costs of enrolling in a course of study in order to develop their skills, obtain a qualification and improve their employment prospects. It is paid once a year in accordance with section 118AAC of VEA.



According to section 5H of the VEA income is:

  • an amount earned, derived or received by a person for the person's own use or benefit;
  • a periodical payment by way of gift or allowance; or
  • a periodical benefit by way of gift or allowance.



An asset means any property, including property outside Australia.