Business guide to Coronavirus

How to apply for the Jobseeker payment

A guide to navigating the Centrelink system if you are forced to close your business temporarily or permanently due to COVID-19. 

Centrelink updates 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Centrelink has made a number of changes over the past year to help with the unprecedented number of Australians accessing their services. The changes enable claims to be made entirely online and by phone without visiting a service centre.  

In addition, the government has expanded the JobSeeker and Youth Allowance criteria to allow more people access to the funds. If you meet the eligibility criteria, for JobSeeker, you can make a claim if your work situation has changed for one of the following reasons. You’re: 

  • A sole trader, self-employed, casual worker or contract worker and your income has reduced. 
  • A permanent employee who has lost your job. 
  • An individual caring for someone who has been affected by COVID-19. 

The JobSeeker Payment amount you receive depends on your situation.  

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How to apply for the Jobseeker payment  

If you already have a MyGov and/or Centrelink account, go straight to step 2 or 3 respectively.  

Steps to make a claim 

1. Create a new MyGov account. Note: a MyGov account will already exist if you have previously processed a tax return online or used another online service like Medicare.

2. Create a Centrelink account. Note: When creating a new Centrelink account for the first time, proof of identity is normally required.  

3. Log in to your MyGov account and 'link' it to the Centrelink account. Once linked, Centrelink can be accessed by logging into your MyGov and clicking through to the Centrelink account. Note: if Centrelink payments have been received in the past, a Customer Reference Number (CRN) or Customer Access Number (CAN), in this format 111 111 111A may already exist. The number may be found on an old Centrelink concession card, letter, email or by calling Centrelink if it can’t be found. 

4. As the claim is completed, varying documents, dependent on each individual, must be provided. From 25 September 2020, proof of rental accommodation and 1 January 2021, employment separation form are no longer waived. 

5. To make a claim:  

  • log in to MyGov and go to Centrelink 
  • select ‘Payments and Claims’ from the menu, select ‘Claims’ and select ‘Make a Claim’ 
  • choose the category that best describes your situation and click ‘Get started’ 
  • any required documents need to be submitted online at the time of completing ‘Make a Claim’. Supplementary documents can be added when available.    

6. The claims team will process your submission and send you a claim approval notification either through your MyGov inbox, Express Plus Centrelink app or by mail. They will also provide information on how to report on your previous 14 days earnings, which is required fortnightly. It is critical to report on time to ensure payments continue.  

What happens after the claim has been approved? 

Once the claim is approved, recipients may be required to actively look for work, or build on their existing skills:  

  • Sole traders and self-employed people may not have to meet mutual obligation requirements. If referred to an employment services provider, contact Services Australia to find out if an exemption applies.   
  • Individuals who are out of employment or have reduced shifts will still need to look for work, however they will need to negotiate a job plan with their provider. 
  • Training or volunteer work may be allowed to meet mutual obligation requirements. 
  • An exemption may be sought from Centrelink if you cannot meet your obligations. During the exemption appointments, looking for work or any other job plan activities do not need to be completed for:
    • an individual who has caring responsibilities or needs to self-isolate due to coronavirus - a doctor's certificate or proof is required.
    • an individual who is caring for an adult with a disability or special needs whose day service or supported workplace premise has closed - documented proof is required. 

Note that if long term care is required, the individual may be best to apply for carer's payment.

Siobhann Provost

Senior Writer, Business Australia

Siobhann has over 18 years human resources business partnering experience in large organisations. She more recently established and led a people advice team of senior workplace advisors before moving into content writing.

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