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Means test

Assessment criteria

For legal aid to be granted all applicants must meet the means test unless:

Documentary requirements

An applicant must provide Legal Aid Queensland with details regarding their financial circumstances, including all income and assets and information about the financial circumstances of anyone who provides financial help.

Legal Aid Queensland requires the following documentation to assess an applicants financial eligibility for aid:

  • copies of your pay slips and/or pay slips for anyone who helps you financially for the last four weeks (or a letter from the applicant’s employer saying how much the applicant is paid)
  • copies of Centrelink income statement
  • copies of bank account statements for the past three months from all financial institutions where there are accounts (official bank statements or printed electronic bank account statements are required. ATM receipts are not accepted)
  • details of any financial help received from financially associated person/s
  • details of assets owned or the assets of the financially associated person such as copies of statements for shares, bonds and superannuation.
  • if an applicant or an applicants financially associated person is self-employed, a small business owner or a farmer, the following information must be provided to Legal Aid Queensland:
  • individual and business tax returns for two years.
  • personal and business bank statements for the last three months.
  • the most recent income (or profit and loss) statement.
  • the most recent balance sheet.
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When electronically lodging applications for aid practitioners must ensure that they retain copies of the client's payslips, bank statements and/or Centrelink income statement for audit purposes. If the client is temporarily in custody and it is not possible to obtain this documentation the practitioner must obtain this at the earliest available opportunity.

Interpretation

What is 'financial help'?

Financial help is where another person regularly gives you money, helps pay your bills or shares your living expenses. This could be a relative, friend, or your current or former partner or spouse. If you are in dispute with a person you usually receive financial help from, we will not take their income and assets into account.

Means test special circumstances guidelines

Special consideration may be given to applicants who experience multiple disadvantages where their assets exceed the limit set out in the means test where the request for legal assistance meets the applicable guidelines and merits tests but the applicant would be excluded from approval of a grant because their assets exceed the thresholds set out in the means test.

In determining whether an applicant experiences multiple disadvantages, the assessing officer will consider whether the applicant meets any of the following criteria:

  • receives a full income tested government benefit or no income
  • 70 years or older
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • non-English-speaking background
  • have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability or long-standing ill health
  • experience literacy problems or limited educational background
  • experienced domestic or family violence
  • live in a remote area

Applicants in receipt of a Veterans' Pension

For the purposes of this policy applicants in receipt of a veterans pension are not deemed to be automatically eligible under the income test.

The income test will be applied in these matters unless the applicant is applying for aid to appeal:

  • war caused disability pension entitlement or assessment claims under Part II of the Veterans Entitlements Act 1986, or
  • a claim under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) that relate to warlike or non-warlike service.

Decision makers of a higher delegation

Applications for aid that are to be considered under the means test special circumstance guidelines will be referred to a grants manager for determination.

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