Coronavirus Stimulus Package – Social Security & JobSeeker Payments

The JobSeeker Payment has been expanded to include sole traders, the self-employed, casual workers and contract workers who meet the income tests as a result of the economic downturn due to the coronavirus.

JobSeeker Payment

From 20 March 2020, JobSeeker Payment replaces the following payments as the main income support payment for recipients aged between 22 years to Age Pension qualification age who have capacity to work.

  • Newstart Allowance
  • Widow B Pension
  • Wife Pension
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Widow Allowance
  • Partner Allowance

Stimulus Package

Australian job seekers are set to have their payments temporarily doubled, as part of the government’s second stimulus package. The JobSeeker Payment, formerly known as Newstart, will be paid at an additional rate of $550 per fortnight to both existing and new recipients during the coronavirus pandemic. “The coronavirus supplement will provide an additional $550 a fortnight on top of the existing JobSeeker or Newstart payment and will be available for sole traders and casual workers who meet the income test,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

“This means anyone eligible for the maximum JobSeeker payment will now receive more than $1100 a fortnight, effectively doubling the JobSeeker allowance.”

The time-limited supplement will also be given to those who receive Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

“Anyone who is eligible for the coronavirus supplement will receive the full rate of the supplement of $550 per fortnight,” the federal government said in a statement.

There will also be expanded access to income payments over the period of the coronavirus supplement.

Who will get the payment?

This will include those who lose their jobs during the pandemic, whether they’re full time, casual or a sole trader.

“JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance JobSeeker criteria will provide payment access for permanent employees who are stood down or lose their employment; sole traders; the self-employed; casual workers; and contract workers who meet the income tests as a result of the economic downturn due to the coronavirus,” the statement said.

“This could also include a person required to care for someone who is affected by the coronavirus.”

Asset testing will also be waived during the period for those on the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker and Parenting Payment.

“Income testing will still apply to the person’s other payments, consistent with current arrangements,” the government said.

Making a claim

Waiting times will also be reduced and there will be an accelerated claims process, with new applicants encouraged to head to online and mobile channels to make their claim.

“From April 2020, Services Australia will allow new applicants to call to verify their identity to reduce the need to visit a Services Australia office,” the statement said.

“To claim online, people who do not already deal with Services Australia will need to set up their myGov account, call to verify their identity and get a link to their Centrelink online account.”

Arrangements for those looking for work will also be more flexible during this unprecedented time.

“Jobseekers who have caring responsibilities, or who need to self-isolate, are able to seek an exemption from their mutual obligation requirements without the need for medical evidence,” the statement explained.

“Job plans will be adjusted to a default requirement of four job searches a month (or one a week) to reflect softening labour market conditions.”

Application process

The application process will be streamlined, making it simpler for people to apply as well as removing certain requirements. These include employment separation certificates, proof of rental arrangements and verification of relationship status. The ‘Job Seeker Classification Instrument assessment’ will also be removed. This is usually in place for those who have recently left jobs, to recognise they are job-ready. Please contact Centrelink for more information.

What if I don’t qualify but the Coronavirus Supplement?

A payment of $750 paid from 13 July 2020 will apply for those who don’t qualify for the Coronavirus Supplement who receive one or more of the following payments or hold concession cards:

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Parenting Payment
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow B Pension
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Newstart Allowance
  • Youth Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Family Tax Benefit, including Double Orphan Pension
  • Carer Allowance
  • Pensioner Concession Card holders
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders
  • Veteran Service Pension; Veteran Income Support Supplement; Veteran Compensation payments, including lump sum payments; War Widow(er) Pension; and Veteran Payment
  • DVA PCC holders; DVA Education Scheme recipients; Disability Pensioners at the temporary special rate; DVA Income support pensioners at $0 rate
  • Veteran Gold Card holders
  • Farm Household Allowance.

This is in addition to the payment of $750, announced on the 12 March 2020, that applies to everyone who receives the above payments or hold a concession card. These payments will be made from 31 March 2020.

By Christine Medina and Karen Bollinger – YBM

Yates Baker McLean. Accountants and Business Advisors situated in the Central West of NSW. Offering comprehensive advice for all your financial needs including tax, auditing, business advisory, self managed super funds, specialised industry experience and financial planning.
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