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1.1.F.53 FTB activity test

Summary

This topic discusses the FTB activity test and covers the following:

  • definition and application,
  • satisfying the FTB activity test,
  • determinations regarding 'normal amount of full-time study', and
  • exemptions from the FTB activity test.

 

Definition & application

The FTB activity test applies to FTB children aged 16-19 years. The FTB activity test requires an FTB child to have either:

  • completed a Year 12 or equivalent qualification (if aged under 18 years), or
  • be in full-time study or studying overseas full-time (1.1.F.60) in an approved secondary course which leads toward completion of a Year 12 or equivalent qualification.

 

A child may continue to be an FTB child (2.1.1.10) of an individual if they have an exemption from these requirements.

 

The FTB activity test is also referred to as the 'education participation requirement'.

 

To establish an individual's ongoing payment and entitlement to FTB for children aged 16-19 years, the child must satisfy the FTB activity test or have an exemption from the requirement.

 

Act reference: FAAct section 17B FTB activity test, section 22B Meaning of senior secondary school child, Schedule 1 clause 29(3) In applying this Part to an individual...

Policy reference: FA Guide 1.1.S.27 Senior secondary school child (FTB)

 

Satisfying the FTB activity test

The FTB activity test is satisfied where:

  • a child aged 16 or 17 has completed the final year of secondary school, or an equivalent level of education (considered to be a Certificate Level II or higher qualification under the Australian Qualifications Framework, or
  • a child aged 16-19 years (up to the end of the calendar year in which they turn 19) is:
    • undertaking full-time study in an approved course of education or study that would, in the Secretary's opinion, assist or allow the child to complete the final year of secondary school or an equivalent level of education, or
    • is studying overseas full-time in an approved foreign course of education or study that would, in the Secretary's opinion, assist or allow the child to complete a level of education that is broadly equivalent to an Australian secondary qualification.

 

Act reference: FAAct section 3(1)-'approved course of education or study', section 3(1)-'studying overseas full-time', section 17B(1) An individual satisfies the FTB activity test

Family Tax Benefit (Studying Overseas Full-time) Determination 2011

Policy reference: FA Guide 1.1.S.27 Senior secondary school child (FTB)

 

Satisfying the FTB activity test - determination regarding 'normal amount of full-time study'

Where considered appropriate given the child's circumstances, a determination may be made that a certain number of hours of study per week for the child, averaged over the period that the child is enrolled in a course, constitute that child's normal amount of full-time study. Such a determination will allow the child to be considered to satisfy the FTB activity test, even though it may be a reduced study load when compared to the full-time load for that course. Such a determination does not amount to an exemption (see 'Exemptions from the FTB activity test').

 

The discretion to make such a determination is to be exercised in accordance with the following categories:

Adjusted Full-time Load Categories

Situation

Near completion of course

The child has almost completed their Year 12 or equivalent qualification and is undertaking their final units, which are equal to less hours than would be the full-time study load for that course, OR

Reduced capacity

There is a locally accessible approved course of education or study (including any such course available by distance education), but the capacity of the child to undertake the course is reduced to an adjusted load because the child has any of the following:

- disability - physical, psychiatric or intellectual disability or a learning disability such as attention deficit disorder,

- medical circumstances - such as an accident, illness or injury,

- personal circumstances - such as substance abuse, behavioural problem, extreme bullying,

- family circumstances - such as death in the family, domestic violence, family eviction, caring responsibilities,

- other circumstances considered appropriate (does not include the child mixing part-time study with part-time work).

Explanation: A favourable determination should not be made in circumstances where the reason the child is undertaking a study load that is less than a normal full-time study load for a course is because the child is combining part-time study with part-time work. The purpose of a determination under this section is to recognise that the child is undertaking a level of study according to their capacity to do so. Unlike an exemption, a determination under this section recognises that the child has some capacity to undertake study.

 

Example: Michael has enrolled in a bridging course at TAFE designed to enable him to complete his Year 12 certificate. Because Michael has attention deficit disorder, the TAFE has allowed Michael extra time to complete the course. Although studying less than a normal full-time load, the course coordinator has provided written confirmation that the level of study per week that Michael is undertaking is the maximum level of study of which he is capable. Michael's mother, Sarah, provides the information from the course coordinator, as well as medical evidence from Michael's doctor, to Centrelink. As Michael is able to undertake study, but at a reduced capacity due to his learning disability, Centrelink decides to approve an 'adjusted full-time study load' for Michael.

 

The forms of evidence in the above example are indicative only. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to confirm the child's capacity to participate in education at a reduced level from a range of sources. These could include, but not be limited to:

  • educational institutions,
  • state welfare and housing agencies,
  • real estate agents,
  • medical personnel,
  • social workers,
  • bereavement counsellors,
  • funeral directors, and
  • other authorities and/or individuals who are in a position to provide this confirmation.

 

Act reference: FAAct section 17B(3) If the Secretary determines that it is appropriate...

 

Exemptions from the FTB activity test

There will be certain circumstances when a child aged 16-19 years (up to the end of the calendar year in which they turn 19) can be exempted from the requirement to satisfy the FTB activity test. Exemptions can be granted under the following circumstances:

Situation

Description of situation

No approved course or place

There is no locally accessible approved course, or place available on an approved course, of education or study (including any such course available by distance education).

Individual not qualified

There is a locally accessible approved course of education or study (including any such course available by distance education), but the child is not qualified to undertake the course.

Individual lacks capacity

There is a locally accessible approved course of education or study (including any such course available by distance education), but the child lacks capacity to undertake the course because the child has a physical, psychiatric or intellectual disability or a learning disability such as attention deficit disorder.

Special circumstances

Special circumstances exist that make it unreasonable to require the child to undertake an approved course of education or study for any of the following reasons:

- medical circumstances - such as an accident, illness or injury,

- personal circumstances - such as substance abuse, behavioural problem, extreme bullying,

- family circumstances - such as death in the family, domestic violence, family eviction, caring responsibilities,

- other circumstances considered appropriate.

 

An exemption from the FTB activity test can be either permanent or temporary. A temporary exemption will not be granted for longer than 12 months, but may be renewed after 12 months if it is determined that the circumstances that warranted the original exemption remain. The following provides some examples of both temporary and permanent exemptions.

 

Example 1: Peter is 17 years old and has not obtained his Year 12 certificate, but is studying full-time in an approved vocational course at a registered training organisation when he is involved in a motor vehicle accident. As a result of this injury, Peter is incapacitated and he has a medical certificate from his doctor advising that he will not be able to resume studies for 6 months. Peter is granted a temporary exemption from the FTB activity test for a 6-month period. Peter's father, John, will not lose eligibility for FTB Part A for Peter for this 6-month period, provided other FTB Part A eligibility criteria are met.

 

Example 2: Simone is 18 years old and has completed Year 10, but she left school part way through Year 11. She has been advised by her career guidance counsellor, to whom she was referred by her social worker, of a suitable course at a Registered Training Organisation that would enable her to complete her Year 12 equivalent qualification in 6 months of study. The course is not open for enrolments until the second half of the year, which is 6 months away. However, there is no other course available, either locally or by distance education, that would allow Simone to obtain her Year 12 equivalent qualification by the end of the year and provide her with the necessary credits to apply for university in her chosen field of study. Simone's career guidance counsellor provides written evidence that it is best for her future educational and career prospects that she wait to enrol in this course. Upon considering this evidence, Centrelink provides Simone with a 6 month exemption and her mother, Chrystal, remains eligible for FTB Part A for Simone for this period.

 

Example 3: Michelle has been a victim of domestic violence and has had difficulty finding stable accommodation, having recently been evicted from her last place of residence. Michelle has approached a women's refuge and has been placed in emergency accommodation with her 16 year old son, Craig. As a result of this upheaval, Craig has engaged in substance abuse and has dropped out of school. In response to a Centrelink review, Michelle requests that Centrelink contact her crisis worker at the refuge. Centrelink contacts the crisis worker and also interviews Michelle and Craig regarding his prospects for returning to school, who advise that due to the instability in Craig's life that they do not believe he can return to school for 18 months. While accepting the need for an exemption based on the evidence, Centrelink provides an exemption for Craig for 12 months and advises the exemption will be reviewed at the end of this period.

 

Example 4: Mary's daughter, Judy, has a severe intellectual disability that means Judy does not have the capacity to undertake any form of study. Judy is about to turn 16 years of age. Mary advises Centrelink of Judy's condition and provides appropriate medical evidence, and is granted a permanent exemption from the FTB activity test. Provided the other eligibility criteria are met, Mary will remain eligible for FTB Part A for Judy, even though Judy is not in full-time study.

 

The forms of evidence in the above examples are indicative only. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to confirm the child's need for an exemption from a range of sources. These could include, but not be limited to:

  • educational institutions,
  • state welfare and housing agencies,
  • real estate agents,
  • medical personnel,
  • social workers,
  • bereavement counsellors,
  • funeral directors, and
  • other authorities and/or individuals who are in a position to provide this confirmation.

 

Act reference: FAAct section 17B(2) An individual is exempt from the FTB activity test if:

Policy reference: FA Guide 1.1.S.27 Senior secondary school child (FTB)

_______________________________________________________

Last reviewed: 2 January 2013


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Last Edited: 31/01/2014 1:54:37 PM


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