There have been a number of Centrelink changes in response to the COVID-19 crisis to help with the unprecedented number of Australians trying to access the system. 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. All payments will be backdated to the time of registering intent to claim for:
- A permanent employee who has been stood down or had their employment terminated.
- A sole trader, self-employed, casual worker or contract worker who now earns less than $1,075 a fortnight as a result of the economic downturn.
- An individual caring for someone who has be diagnosed with COVID-19.
The government will automatically pay:
- The first $750 stimulus payment to all eligible people from 31 March through to 17 April 2020.
- An additional temporary fortnightly $550 coronavirus supplement from 27 April 2020 for people receiving one of these payments:
- Jobseeker Payment, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Sickness Allowance and Wife Pension
- Youth Allowance for job seekers
- Youth Allowance for students and apprentices
- Austudy for students and apprentices
- ABSTUDY for students getting Living Allowance
- Parenting Payment partnered and single
- Farm Household Allowance
- Special Benefit.
Note: if an individual is not eligible for the coronavirus supplement now, they may be eligible for a second $750 economic support payment to be paid from 13 July 2020.
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 27 April, the following changes to these requirements will be in place:
- If an individual no longer has employment, Centrelink has waived the requirement to fill in an employment separation form for every employer worked for in the last 12 months.
- Proof of rental accommodation or relationship status verification has been 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 up to 14 days later.
6. The claim process requires you to book a phone appointment with Centrelink. Diarise the date and time of the Centrelink phone appointment to answer the call, which may show as a private number.
7. Centrelink will 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 once my claim has been approved?
Once the claim is approved, recipients must actively look for work, or build on their existing skills including:
- Sole traders and self-employed people will meet their obligations by continuing to operate their business and not have to apply for other jobs if they earn less than $1,075 per fortnight, from 27 April 2020 for a six-month period.
- Individuals who are out of employment or have reduced shifts will still need to look for work, however, only four job searches a month (one per week) are required to reflect the current labour market.
- 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 without a doctor's certificate
- an individual’s child is attending a childcare centre or school that has closed.
- an individual who is caring for an adult with a disability or special needs whose day service or supported workplace premise has closed.
Business Australia is on hand with a range of resources to help your businesses navigate this difficult time, with practical advice and information to help you develop strategies to maintain and sustain. Visit our resource hub to find out more.