With Millions Facing Unemployment, Are You Eligible For Centrelink?
Close to two million Australians will suddenly become unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic, with many navigating the welfare system for the first time. But are you eligible for Centrelink?
You've just lost your job
If you're suddenly out of work, caring for someone with coronavirus, or had your shifts reduced, you're now eligible to receive Centrelink payments under the JobSeeker payment.
Huge lines snaked around Centrelink offices on Monday after it was announced payments would be doubled from April for six months.
For jobseekers, this is a welcome relief from the uncertain climate, with payments boosted by $550 a fortnight. However, you'll have to wait until April for the payments to reach your pockets.
Workers across the board can apply, including permanent employees, sole-traders, those who are self-employed and casual and contract workers.
You'll need to be an Australian citizen or resident between 22 and 66 years old who's looking for work, and have an income that meets Centrelink's test limits.
Like all welfare payments, if you have a partner, Centrelink will look at your combined assets and income to determine whether you're eligible.
Currently, if you lose your job and your partner earns more than $1,850 a fortnight ($48,100 a year), you won’t be eligible for the Jobseeker Payment.
You're a student
More than 230,000 students are now eligible to have their welfare payments increased by $500 a fortnight.
The government made the last-minute decision to include students on Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy to the coronavirus package on Monday night.
There'll also be two $750 payments for welfare recipients including students, parents, farming households and job seekers.
To be eligible you must be under 24 years old and a full-time student, or 21 years old or younger and looking for work.
You're a parent
If you receive a parenting payment, you'll also have your welfare payments doubled.
You must be an Australian resident or citizen and the principal carer of a child, meaning you're responsible for their financial and development needs.
Depending on your child's age, you’ll generally have to attend an appointment and agree to a Job Plan. The hours you work and study will also affect your payment rate, which you can check here.
If you're a farmer or a farmer's partner, who spends a lot of time on a farm, you may be able to receive financial support. Those receiving this payment will also see it increased under Centrelink's new coronavirus measures.
Centrelink will asses your claim based on your farm's purpose, profit and the scale and permanency of your farm activity.
You must meet Centrelink's income and assets test limits and be an Australian resident or citizen.
If you can’t work because you’re isolated at home due to coronavirus and don’t have any leave entitlements you may qualify to receive a Crisis Payment.
Those in severe financial hardship on a JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance for job seekers can apply for this one-off payment. It's equal to a week’s pay of your existing income support payment rate.
How do I apply?
The Federal Government is urging Australians to stay away from Centrelink offices on Tuesday, asking people to apply for help online or over the phone.
However, this may prove difficult after the MyGov site crashed on Monday.
To receive payments you'll need to set up a MyGov account and provide Centrelink with a range of identification documents.
You'll also need to fill out information about your income, assets and relationship status for the government to assess your eligibility.
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