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Financial assistance measures and support – Department of Social Services updates.

Our South West Australia

Whole of Government Response to Coronavirus

The Australian Government is providing a range of measures to address the global health crisis related to Coronavirus. Please visit The Treasury’s webpage for more information on the economic response to Coronavirus announced on 12 March 2020 and 22 March 2020, including fact sheets and an overview of the Government’s targeted economic response packages.

For Department of Social Services specific related measures, please visit the Minister for Families and Social Services’ webpage for Ministerial announcements.

For general health information and advice on Coronavirus, please visit the Department of Health’s webpage.

First Economic Support Payment

On 12 March 2020, the Government announced it will provide an Economic Support payment of $750 to approximately 6.6 million existing payment recipients and concession card holders that are eligible as at 12 March 2020. On 22 March 2020, the eligibility criteria for this payment was extended to new payment recipients who are eligible for their payment or card between 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020 (inclusive). This means as long as someone has lodged a claim for an eligible payment and is eligible for that payment by 13 April, they will automatically receive this economic support payment via Services Australia. Payments will be made from 31 March onwards.

Eligibility for the first Economic Support payment is for the following payment recipients and concession cardholders, given they reside in Australia and are eligible as at 13 April 2020:

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Parenting Payment
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow B Pension
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Newstart Allowance (JobSeeker Payment from 20 March)
  • Youth Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Family Tax Benefit, including Double Orphan Pension
  • Carer Allowance
  • Pensioner Concession Card holders
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders
  • Veteran Service Pension; Veteran Income Support Supplement; Veteran Compensation payments, including lump sum payments; War Widow(er) Pension; and Veteran Payment
  • DVA PCC holders; DVA Education Scheme recipients; Disability Pensioners at the temporary special rate; DVA Income support pensioners at $0 rate
  • Veteran Gold Card holders
  • Farm Household Allowance.

Second Economic Support Payment

The Government announced on 22 March 2020, it would provide a second Economic Support payment of $750 to approximately 5 million recipients under the same eligibility criteria as the first Economic Support payment, provided the recipient does not receive the Coronavirus Supplement with their payment. If recipients are eligible at 10 July 2020, this second Economic Support payment will be automatically paid via Services Australia. Payments will be made from 13 July onwards.

Please visit the Services Australia website for more information on each individual payment.

Coronavirus Supplement

On 22 March 2020, the Government announced it will provide a temporary payment of $550 per fortnight, known as the Coronavirus Supplement, to new and existing eligible income support recipients. On 24 March 2020, the Government extended the eligibility criteria for this payment to Australians receiving student support payments including Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY. Eligible recipients will receive the Coronavirus Supplement from 27 April 2020 along with their usual payment.

Eligibility for the Coronavirus Supplement is for people receiving the following payments:

  • JobSeeker Payment (formerly known as Newstart Allowance; also includes Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Sickness Allowance and Wife Pension)
  • Youth Allowance
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Parenting Payment
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit.

Expanding Eligibility and Qualification for Payments

The Government also temporarily put in place expanded eligibility and qualification criteria from 25 March 2020.

Eligibility for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance for jobseekers have been expanded to assist:

  • sole traders and self-employed people. They will be able to meet mutual obligation requirements by continuing to operate their businesses.
  • permanent employees who have been stood down or lost their job.
  • people caring for someone infected or in isolation as a result of contact with Coronavirus.

The following eligibility criteria have also been temporarily waived, for certain payments:

  • the assets test
  • the Ordinary Waiting Period (already waived until 12 June 2020)
  • the Liquid Assets Waiting Period
  • the Seasonal Workers Preclusion Period
  • the Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period.

Also from 25 March 2020, access to payments will become easier with a temporary removal of the requirement for an Employment Separation Certificate, proof of rental arrangements and verification of relationship status.

Crisis Payment

Changes are also being made to crisis payment to ensure people who are in financial hardship and need to self-isolate receive the support they need.

Isolation Related Temporary Exemptions From Mutual Obligations

As announced the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, on 25 March 2020, due to the high demand on government services such as the MyGov website, mutual obligation requirements will be lifted until 31 March 2020. If congestion continues, the Government will consider extending these arrangements. This means that during this period no compliance action will be taken for job seekers who do not report their attendance at appointments or activities, which means no one’s payments will be suspended.

For further information, please see the Minister’s media release: ministers.employment.gov.au/cash/mutual-obligations-lifted-until-congestion-clears

The Government also announced a number of changes to mutual obligation requirements to reduce or eliminate the need for face-to-face contact, when requested by a job seeker or job service provider. The changes include:

  • Job seekers will have the option to request that face to face meetings with their job service providers take place over the phone or via an online channel such as Skype;
  • Job seekers will be able to complete activities such as online training, creating job plans, writing a CV and preparing job applications online;
  • Job Plans will be adjusted to a default requirement of four job searches a month (or fewer, at provider discretion) to reflect the softening labour market conditions.
  • Work for the Dole and other activities delivered in group settings that cannot be delivered online will be suspended until further notice;
  • Jobs Fairs and other large events will be postponed; and
  • Job service providers will be required to perform new risk assessments for a range of activities like Youth Jobs PaTH internships.

Current income support recipients who cannot meet mutual obligation requirements due to isolation should call Services Australia and can be granted a Major Personal Crisis exemption, without having to provide evidence such as a medical certificate.

Students receiving Youth Allowance (student) or other study related payments who are in Australia but unable to attend studies due to Coronavirus would be taken to have a reasonable excuse for not meeting study activity requirements for their payments. Individuals in this situation must contact Services Australia to advise them of the circumstances.

Simplifying Income Reporting

The Government is also creating flexibility associated with the commencement of the Simplifying Income Reporting Act, which was due to start on 1 July 2020. This will allow for the commencement date to be set taking into account the effect of the Coronavirus on income support recipients and Services Australia resources.

Information for DSS Grant Recipients – Coronavirus

Information for DSS grant recipients in relation to Coronavirus, 20 March 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do people claim the Coronavirus Supplement?

Services Australia will automatically pay the Coronavirus Supplement to eligible recipients each fortnight from 27 April 2020.

Is the Coronavirus Supplement taxable?

Yes.

Will the Coronavirus Supplement be subject to income management or credited to Cashless Debit Cards?

Yes. The supplement will be income managed or credited to Cashless Debit Cards for current participants in the same proportions as a person’s payment.

Do people have to wait until 27 April 2020 to apply for a payment?

People can apply for a payment as soon as they need it.

The expanded eligibility and qualification criteria came into effect from 25 March 2020.

If a person qualifies for a payment before 25 March 2020 and has to serve a waiting period (other than the Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period), they will receive a payment back to the date of their claim once the waiting period is suspended.

Recent migrants will be able to have their Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period waived from 25 March 2020.

Do I need to contact Services Australia to receive either the first or the second Economic Support Payment?

No. The payment will be paid automatically to eligible recipients. Where Services Australia does not have bank details, they will contact eligible recipients to get these details.

Will I receive multiple Economic Support payments and if so, when?

Services Australia and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will automatically deliver payments to eligible recipients with the first payment from 31 March 2020 and the second payment from 13 July 2020. A person can be eligible to receive both the first and second support payment, however, they will only receive $750 once  in each round of payments, even if they receive more than one qualifying payment or card.

My claim for a qualifying payment or card has not yet been processed. Will I still get the Economic Support Payment?

If you have lodged a claim for one of the qualifying payments or concession cards between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020, and the claim is subsequently granted from a date on or before that period, you will receive the payment.

Will I get paid the Economic Support payment if I’m a part rate Age Pensioner?

Yes. You will receive the full $750.

Will I get paid the Economic Support payment if I receive Family Tax Benefit as a lump sum?

Yes. Recipients who claim Family Tax Benefit as a lump sum after the end of the financial year will be eligible for the payment if they are eligible for Family Tax Benefit in the 2019-20 and/or 2020-21 financial year and will receive the Economic Support payment as part of their lump sum payment.