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With jobs and even whole industries decimated by the impacts of coronavirus measures, more Australians than ever are desperately seeking help from the government.
Queues outside Centrelink offices extended for blocks for the second day in a row on Tuesday while the myGov website crashed again due to unprecedented demand.
Those who find themselves out of work may be eligible for payments of up to $1,120 per fortnight under the federal government’s new coronavirus JobSeeker supplement.
So how do you apply for unemployment benefits?
To access Jobseeker payments, the federal government has urged Australians to claim online.
To claim online, you need a myGov account linked to Centrelink.
If you have an authorised representative - that is, someone to deal with Centrelink on your behalf - they will also need their own account.
If you don’t have a myGov account or a Centrelink online account you’ll first need to set one up.
You may need to confirm your identity before you can start your claim.
If you can’t claim online, you can call Centrelink on the Job seekers line.
In theory, you can also attend a service centre - but with social distancing and other coronavirus regulations in place, authorities say only those in urgent need should visit Centrelink. (Watch the video below)
What documents will I need?
You’ll need to get some supporting documents ready to help answer some of the questions that will be presented to you.
Previously, job seekers had to get separate certificates from every employer they had worked for over the past 12 months.
But the federal government has scrapped this measure in a bid to make accessing funds easier.
The government has also waived the assets test, meaning personal assets - such as property - will not be considered when determining your claim.
Make your claim
- Sign in to myGov and go to Centrelink.
- Select Payments and Claims from the menu, then Claims, then Make a claim.
- Select Get started from the category that best describes your circumstances.
- Answer all the questions. Each screen has information to help you complete the claim.
- Submit your claim
Tracking your claim
After you submit your claim online, you’ll get a receipt advising the claim was submitted.
The receipt will provide the ID number of your claim, an estimated date for completion and a link to track your claim’s progress online.
When will you receive your funds?
The federal treasurer has assured Australians that cash will “start to flow” sooner rather than later as the nation grapples with the fallout of coronavirus.
Speaking on The Latest, Josh Frydenberg says new measures are being implemented so those in need can access funds.
“We are using online applications everywhere that is possible,” Frydenberg said.
“We’ve waived the waiting periods for people to get the unemployment benefits and we’ve also waived the assets test.”
Frydenberg says cash payments for those on the disability pension, the pension, family tax benefits and people on the Commonwealth senior health card will begin to be distributed from March 31.
“So the money will flow straight away, for those people who need it most,” he said.
From April 27, job seekers will receive a $550 supplement to existing payments, bringing the total to $1,120.
What can I receive?
- From April 27, job seekers will receive a $550 supplement to existing payments, bringing the total to $1,100
- Two, separate $750 payments will also be made to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders
- These payments will be made automatically on March 31 and July 13
- Up to $100,000 will be provided to eligible small and medium-sized businesses and not for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000
- Businesses must continue to be active to qualify for payments
Who can access?
The income support payment categories eligible to receive the coronavirus supplement are:
- JobSeeker Payment (and all payments progressively transitioning to JobSeeker Payment)
- Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Sickness Allowance and Wife Pension
- Youth Allowance Jobseeker
- Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single)
- Farm Household Allowance
- Special Benefit recipients
Anyone eligible for the coronavirus supplement will receive the full rate of $550 per fortnight.
Those eligible will include those who lose their jobs during the pandemic, whether they’re full time, casual or a sole trader.
The government is also providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.
These two payments will be made automatically to those eligible, on March 31 and July 13.
Asset testing will be waived during the period for those on the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker and Parenting Payment.
“Income testing will still apply to the person’s other payments, consistent with current arrangements,” the government said.