A summary of changes to Centrelink income supports and how they could effect you.
Income support for individuals
The government will temporarily expand eligibility for income support payments and provide a new coronavirus supplement over the next six months.
Several payments, including Newstart and Sickness Allowance, were renamed JobSeeker Payment from 20 March, 2020.
JobSeeker and Youth Allowance JobSeeker payments will be available to people currently receiving low or no income, such as those who have lost jobs or lost hours; including those who are still employed but have been stood down, sole traders, the self-employed and casual and contract workers who meet the income tests.
A number of barriers to making a claim have been removed:
- You will not need an Employment Separation Certificate.
- You will not need to make an appointment with an employment service provider before lodging application.
- Mutual Obligation requirements have been softened.
- Sole traders can continue to develop their business while receiving income support.
A new, additional, coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight, will be paid on top of JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy, Parenting, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit payments. People who are earning less than $1,075 per fortnight will be eligible to receive the full supplement, over the next six months. This supplement will commence from Monday 27 April, 2020. If you are not sure whether you are eligible for help, please apply – Centrelink will tell you yes or no in writing. Do not assume that you are not eligible. Expect Centrelink to be extremely busy, but keep trying. Lodge your Intent to Claim via your myGov account as soon as you are able to. It is reported that claims will be backdated to 23 March, 2020. You’ll be able to provide documentation later.
Payments to support households
There will be two separate payments of $750. The first $750 payment will be paid from 31 March, 2020, to people who meet the eligibility criteria at any time from 12 March, 2020, to 13 April, 2020. Eligible people are those receiving a social security payment or holding a concession card. The second $750 payment will be paid from 13 July, 2020, to those who meet the eligibility criteria on 10 July, 2020. This payment will go to pensioners and concession card holders. It will not be made to those eligible for the coronavirus supplement (ie Jobseeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance, and Special Benefit recipients are excluded).
Early access to superannuation
People in financial difficulty may be able to access some of their superannuation savings. The new rules allow access to up to $10,000 this financial year (before 1 July 2020), and up to $10,000 next financial year (from 1 July, 2020). These withdrawals will be tax free and will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments. Eligibility criteria include unemployment, redundancy and reduction in working hours or business turnover of 20% or more. Applications should be made to the ATO through the myGov website from mid-April 2020.
Reduction to superannuation minimum drawdown rates and deeming rates
Superannuation minimum drawdown requirements have been halved for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. The government has also reduced the social security deeming rate by a further 0.25 percentage points, effective 1 May, 2020.