Government support for individuals during COVID19

MAR 2020

The government has made several changes to their support package for individuals, as a response to the Coronavirus.

If you have had your hours significantly reduced, lost your job, or you are a sole trader whose income has been significantly reduced, you may be eligible for some assistance.

The best way to let the Government know that you may want to lodge a claim is to complete an ‘Intent to Claim’ form via your MyGov account. The date on your Intent to Claim form should be when your payment will be back dated to, even if your application cannot be processed straight away due to the high demand at Centrelink.

There are currently major delays at Centrelink so lodging this form as soon as possible, even if are not 100% sure you are eligible, is a good idea.

There have also been changes to the application process to make it easier to apply.

Coronavirus Supplement

From the 27th of April 2020, the government has introduced a temporary Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight. This is on top of the normal payment for a range of Government payments. The payment that most people will access as a result of the current crisis is the JobSeeker Payment, however, there are several other payments included as well. The JobSeeker Payment has replaced the NewStart Allowance.

Also, from the 27th of April, the Government has expanded the eligibility for the JobSeeker Payment and some other payments. Most importantly, the waiting period and the assets tests have been temporarily waived. The waiving of the Assets Test means you can apply even if you own your home. The waiving of the Liquid Assets Test means you don’t have to use up the cash savings you may have in the bank before you apply.

Importantly for sole traders and the self-employed, they can access these payments while continuing to run their business.

How much can you and your partner earn while still being eligible for these payments?

There are so many different types of payments, supplements, conditions and thresholds that trying to calculate what you are entitled to is very difficult. If you think you may be eligible, you should lodge an ‘Intent to Claim’ form via the MyGov website as soon as possible. Centrelink will be able to calculate your maximum benefit.

As a guide, a single person without children and without an income, will receive up to $1115 per fortnight, including the Coronavirus Supplement (after the 27th of April 2020). They could earn up to $1,086.50 per fortnight and still receive the entire Coronavirus Supplement.

If you have lost your job but your partner is still employed and earns less than $3,068.80 per fortnight, you can still receive partial payment and the full Coronavirus Supplement.

Two Economic Support payments

The first Economic Support payment of $750 will be paid from the 31st of March 2020 to all individuals who receive a wide range of government benefits or hold concession cards, if you are eligible for these cards by the 13th of April 2020. The full list can be found using the link below.

A second economic support payment of $750 will be paid on the 10th of July 2020, using the same eligibility criteria above. You will not be eligible for the second payment if you are receiving the Coronavirus Supplement.

For more detail, visit the Department of Social Services.