NEWS
23/03/2020 2:44 PM AEDT | Updated 24/03/2020 9:06 AM AEDT

Coronavirus Centrelink Payments: Am I Eligible And When Do They Start?

Pensioners, small businesses, sole traders, students and carers are amongst the groups of people who will benefit from the recent stimulus announcements.

Jenny Evans via Getty Images
People are seen lining up at Centrelink in Bondi Junction on March 23, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. From midday Monday, venues such as bars, clubs, nightclubs, cinemas, gyms and restaurants, along with anywhere people remain static would be closed.

At a glance: 

  • Jobseeker Payment, previously Newstart, doubles to $1100 for six months 
  • Exactly who will get access to what? 
  • Small businesses and not-for-profits may be eligible for tax-free payments up to $100,000
  • People can access $10,000 from their superannuation this financial year and next 
  • Some $750 payments to be “quarantined”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s $17.6 and $66 billion stimulus packages will be rolled out this week, in an attempt to prevent the Coronavirus pandemic pushing the Australian economy into its first recession since 1991. 

The total economic assistance package is now worth $189 billion.

The government is hoping these packages, which include subsidising the wages of 120,000 apprentices and giving payments of up to $100,000 for small businesses, will boost the economy in the same way the 2009 stimulus package, issued by the Rudd government, did.

At least 1882 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and seven people have died.

New South Wales has the most cases at 818.

The virus has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace.

One Or Two Payments?

More than six million welfare recipients will get aone-off cash payment from March 31, with most people expected to have it in their bank account between March 30 and April 17. There will be a second $750 payment for people on social security and veteran benefits, which will be paid on July 13. 

Scott Morrison announced on Sunday that the government will temporarily add an extra $550 a fortnight to the Jobseeker Payment (previously known as Newstart). 

“This means anyone eligible for the maximum Jobseeker payment will now receive more than $1,100 a fortnight, effectively doubling the Jobseeker allowance,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a press conference to announce the government’s second coronavirus stimulus package on Sunday.

Sole traders and casual workers who are making less than $1,075 a fortnight will be eligible for this, provided they meet incomes tests.

Asset tests and waiting periods for the Jobseeker Payment will be waived.  

People who receive the first round of benefits, and then receive an extra $550 a fortnight for six months as part of the Coronavirus Supplement will not receive the second payment.  

Payments won’t be counted as income for social security or family tax benefits, and are tax exempt. 

Jenny Evans via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: People are seen lining up at Centrelink in Bondi Junction on March 23, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. From midday Monday, venues such as bars, clubs, nightclubs, cinemas, gyms and restaurants, along with anywhere people remain static would be closed. Schools remain open but parents have the option to keep children at home if they wish while Victoria is bringing forward school holidays from Tuesday. There are now 1353 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and the death toll now stands at seven. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Not All Money As Cash

People who are on the cashless debit card will have their $750 quarantined, so they will not be able to withdraw the money as cash. “Cashless Debit Card participants will receive the $750 Economic Support Payment as a lump sum payment onto their card, consistent with arrangements for lump sum payments such as Family Tax Benefit lump sum payments,” confirmed a Department of Social Services spokeswoman. 

Is It Enough?

Student Luke John Thomas will qualify for a payment, after recently starting his masters’ degree in social work, while also looking for part-time work. He isn’t sure how much difference it will make. “We also don’t know how long this is going to go on for, so who knows if the government will send more money in the future,” he told HuffPost Australia. 

“It will help short term but what students really need is an increase in regular payments for the foreseeable future, not just temporary.”

Who Will Get The $750 Payment?

Pensioners

Anyone on the age pension will receive the payment. This includes anyone with a Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Card or a DVA Gold Card, as well as those on the old Partner Allowance. It also includes those on the Wife Pension and the Widow B Pension.

Veterans

Those who receive either the Veterans Service Pension, Veteran’s Income Support Supplement, Veterans’ Compensation payments or War Widow(er) Pension are eligible for the payment. These people will also receive the second $750 payment in July.

Students And Those Looking For Work

People who receive Austudy and Aboriginal and Torres Islander people who qualify for ABSTUDY living allowance, will receive the money. Youth Allowance recipients will also qualify, as well as those who received the former Newstart Allowance.

Carers And Those Who Are Being Cared For

Anyone on the Carer Payment or Carer Allowance will get the payment. Those on Disability Support Pensions or Sickness Allowance will also get it.

Some Families

Families who are eligible for Tax Benefit A or Tax Benefit B, those who receive a Parenting Payment and those on a Double Orphan Pension will get the $750.

The Bereaved

Those on Widow’s Allowances and anyone who is still on the now defunct Bereavement Allowance will be given the funds.

Those In Severe Financial Hardship

People who receive Special Benefit and Farm Household Alliance also qualify for the payment.

Early Access To Super

People will be able to access $10,000 from their superannuation for this financial year and next financial year - tax-free.  Access to this cash will not affect Centrelink payments.

Small Business Support

Some relief for small businesses and not-for-profits (earning under $50 million) was announced Sunday with tax-free cash payments up to $100,00 available.  There’ll also be a minimum payment of $20,000 available for eligible businesses.

These payments are designed to help businesses retain staff and keep operating to some capacity. 

Scott Morrison promised this would not be the last announcement on stimulus for the people of Australia.  If you’re doing it tough, the government said there will be more relief on the way.  

“There will be more packages and more support,” he said.

“There will be more issues that even now have not presented themselves or could not even be conceived at this point.”

More info on the coronavirus stimulus packages here.