Loosing your job is a stressful enough event on it’s own, take into account the global COVID-19 pandemic and the last thing you will want to have to deal with is the process of applying for a jobseeker payment at Centrelink.
It is not easy to navigate the myGov or the Centrelink website. To make matters worse, the MyGov website was inundated with extremely high volumes of traffic when this pandemic took off. The Federal Government originally mistook this a cyber attack, a clear indication of how unprepared the system was to respond to the pandemic.
Who is eligible for the jobseeker payments?
Before we start, it’s important to note that not everyone who has been let go by their employer is eligible to apply for job seeker payments. Here are the main criteria:
- you’re between 22 and Age Pension age
- you meet residence rules
- your income and assets are under the test limits
- You meet the definition of unemployed
The partner income test has also been increased to $79,000 which means that you will still be eligible if you partner remains employed and earns less than this amount.
How to apply for the jobseeker payments?
The most important piece of advice is that you do not need to physically visit Centrelink. Historically, you had to visit a Centrelink office in person to verify your identity when applying for a jobseeker payment. However, you can now verify your identity online.
From 27 April, it includes an additional coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight for the next six months.
To apply for the jobseeker payments you need to:
- Log in to your MyGov account, if you do not already have one you can create one here.
- If you already have a Centrelink account you will need to link this to your MyGov account. If you do not have a Centrelink account, you will need to go through the sign up process which involves proving your identification over the phone.
- Once you can access your Centrelink account via myGov you can start the application process. You will need a number of documents which will vary depending on the claim you are making. Importantly, most applicants need letter from their previous employer confirming they are no longer employed.
- Finally, you should familiarise yourself with the income supplement options available to you as they vary depending on your individual circumstances.
What about the payments for small business (for employers to retain staff)?
Another coronavirus stimulus payment announced is a cash boost offered to businesses to help pay their staff. You don’t need to apply for this payment and it is not “cash” as such. When you lodge your next activity statement, a credit will be issued against for your business.
Small and medium business entities with aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. If eligible, the payment is between $20,000 to $100,000.
For more information, we’ve written a whole post on coronavirus stimulus for small business.
If you need it, early super access is also on the table
From 20 April, myGov will accept applications for early release of superannuation.
You can register your interest now by logging in to your myGov account and following the intention to access coronavirus support instructions.
You can access up to $10,000 this financial year as well as an additional $10,000 next year.
Find out if you’re old employer is eligible for JobKeeper Payments
Another new initiative announced is the JobKeeper Payments where employers who suffered financial hardship due to COVID-19 can apply for up to $1,500 per employee, per fortnight.
If eligible, the ATO pays your employer who then pays it to you like normal weekly wages.
If you’ve recently lost your job, we’d recommend getting in touch with you ex-employer as soon as possible to see if they’re eligible to apply. They may be able to re-hire you right away!
At Etax we’re always on hand to assist with any queries you have. We are keep a close eye on events as they unfold, so please get in touch with us at anytime.