If as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and new Government-issued limitations, you’re heading to Centrelink for the first time, or it’s been a few years between claims, rest assured you’re not alone. Here’s our no-fuss guide on how to go about applying for that much-needed Centrelink support.

The demand for Centrelink services is increasing daily. Newstart Allowance has now become the JobSeeker Payment and Centrelink staff are helping the best they can as new Coronavirus stimulus packages become available.


Source: Bigstock

“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 payments of $750 will also be made to Social Security, Veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession cardholders
  • 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 payments?

Eligible to receive the coronavirus supplement are those claiming:

  • JobSeeker Payment (and all payments transitioning to JobSeeker Payment)
  • Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Sickness Allowance, and Wife Pension
  • Youth Allowance Jobseeker
  • Parenting Payment (Partnered & Single)
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit recipients
  • Youth Allowance for students
  • Austudy for students
  • ABSTUDY for students

The Coronavirus Supplement will be automatically added to your welfare payment for six months from April 27.

Those eligible for the coronavirus supplement will receive the full rate of $550 per fortnight. They will include those who lose their jobs during the pandemic, whether they’re full time, casual or a sole trader.

If my partner still has a job, am I eligible for Centrelink?

As it currently stands, if you lose your job and your partner earns more than $48,100 a year) you will not be eligible for the Jobseeker Payment.

However, things are changing rapidly and there are calls for this to be increased.

If you already receive Centrelink please don’t call

Services Australia general manager Hank Jongen said existing customers had contributed to some of the “unprecedented” demand. Please, take note and understand existing customers will automatically be considered.

Can’t find your CRN or CAN? No worries – keep on reading as we’ve got the lowdown on the simple steps to take to get in the queue.

“Current customers who have been concerned about when they receive the first stimulus payment have actually been also clogging up our queues and our phone lines,” he said.

“It’s important for current customers to understand this process is automatic.

“If you are eligible … you will automatically receive the first $750 stimulus payment. The payments will be made from March 31 through to April 17. You don’t need to contact us. It’s automatic.”

How to apply for Centrelink JobSeeker payment – NO NEED TO QUEUE IN LINE!

After unprecedented long queues and demand on Centrelink phone systems and website, recent changes have made it even easier for job seekers and the newly unemployed to access the range of payments made available by the Australian Government.

 

How to lodge your Centrelink claim online:

STEP 1: Go online and log in to your myGov account. If you don’t have one, create one. Simple, quick and easy.

STEP 2: Create a Centrelink online account.

  • If you have received Centrelink payments in the past (even a decade ago), you likely already have an account. (Go to step 3)
  • If you’ve never ever received any money from Centrelink, you will have to set up an account. Previously, this had to be done at a Centrelink service centre, but that has now changed. You can now ring Centrelink and identify yourself over the phone. Centrelink staff will give you a validation over the phone and you can then go on and register online through the myGov portal without the need to provide proof of identity over the phone.
  • If you don’t have an online Centrelink account but you have received benefit payments in the past (even a decade ago), try to find any old paperwork from Centrelink to find your Customer Reference Number (CRN) or Customer Access Number (CAN). Either one of those numbers will be printed on the correspondence.
  • NEW: If you’ve looked everywhere but still can’t find either your Centrelink CRN or CAN, avoid calling Centrelink to verify your identity and register on the myGov website by lodging an intent to claim. All payments will be backdated to the time you register your intent to claim and anyone registering their intent to claim now will be backdated to Monday.
Register or login to your myGov account and register an intent to claim.

If you can’t find your CRN or CAN number, or haven’t linked Centrelink before, you can add your Medicare service to your myGov account to set it up (which will subsequently verify your identity) and then quickly register your intent to claim and sit back and wait for Centrelink to reach out.

Mr Jongen said many first-time Centrelink applicants would already have a MyGov account if they lodge their tax returns online or deal with Medicare.

“If you have a MyGov account you simply log in and you will see a button that says ‘Have you been affected by coronavirus? Do you wish to claim a payment?'” 

“You click on that and it will register your intent to claim with us, and we will then contact you to steer you through the process.”

STEP 3: Now you have to link your myGov and Centrelink accounts together. You’ll now be able to access Centrelink through the myGov portal and it’ll be easy to find.

STEP 4: What’s your scenario?

You will, however, have to upload other documents during the process. Which documents you’ll need will vary depending on your circumstances. This will become apparent as you make your way through the process.

From April 27, 2020 Centrelink is also waiving the requirement to provide proof of rental arrangements and the verification of relationship status.

STEP 5: It’s finally time to make a claim!

Hopefully, you’re organised and have all of your important documents in one place, making this a smooth and swift process. If you’re like many of us, you’ll spend a good portion of a day rummaging around for paperwork. Nonetheless, we’re going to get this done.

  • Log in to myGov and click Centrelink to open it.
  • Select Payments and Claims from the menu, then Claims, then Make a Claim.
  • Select the category that best suits your current circumstances and click Get started.
  • You’ll have to submit any required documents online now, but you’ll have 14 days to submit any supplementary documents.

STEP 6: Part of the claim process is booking a phone appointment. Write down your appointment time, make sure your phone is with you and charged. Centrelink will call from a private number, be sure to answer it so as to not delay your process.

STEP 7: Centrelink will let you know when your claim has been approved and when you’ll need to report. You’ll hear via your myGov inbox, the Express Plus Centrelink app (if you have it) or by a letter in the post.

Wait, I have to report? Yes, every two weeks, online or over the phone. Reporting just means letting Centrelink know how much money you’ve earned in the past fortnight and confirming you’ve agreed to mutual obligations in your job plan. If you don’t report, you don’t get paid.

woman on phone
Report to Centrelink online or by phone. Source: Pexel

If I apply for Centrelink JobSeeker payments, do I have to seek work during the Coronavirus lockdown?

It’s a confusing time with all of this Coronavirus uncertainty getting about. We’re being told to stay at home, yet there are things we must do to receive the payment. To receive Centrelink JobSeeker payments you do have to be applying for jobs or undergo training. They’re what is referred to as ‘mutual obligations‘ in step 7 above.

Having said that, for a six month period starting on April 27, 2020 the Government is changing up the rules because of Coronavirus. Changes are as follows:

  • Sole traders and self-employed people who (now) earn less than $1,075 a fortnight will be meeting their mutual obligation requirements just by continuing their business, doing what they usually do.
  • People who are caring for someone infected with or in isolation because of Coronavirus (COVID-19) will also not have to apply for other jobs.
  • People who have lost their jobs, had their shifts cut or hours reduced will still need to look for work. However, requirements have been reduced to just four job searches a month.
  • The employment market is tough. In some cases, you might get permission to do training or volunteer work to meet your mutual obligation requirements.

A note on mutual obligation exemptions…

The new rules also enable you to seek exemption from mutual obligation requirements without a Doctor’s certificate if you have caring responsibilities or need to self-isolate because of Coronavirus.

You might also be exempt if your child’s school or childcare centre has closed or if you’re caring for a special needs or disabled adult whose support service or workplace has closed.

During an exemption period, you will not need to attend appointments, seek work or do any of the activities cited in your job plan. But you absolutely must call Centrelink to get an exemption FIRST.

woman reading a book to toddler
You might be exempt from JobSeeker payment mutual obligations if your child’s school or childcare centre has closed. Source: Bigstock

Try to do as much as you can online when applying for Centrelink payments.

If you need to call Centrelink, do that. But please, avoid going into a Centrelink Service Centre if you can. As a result of the current climate, queues are exceptionally long and taking hours to work through. . Plus with social distancing rules now being enforced, you’re just a whole lot safer in your own home.

Be patient, be courteous and be safe. Remember, this sucky Coronavirus situation won’t be forever. Hang in there and good luck!

Author

South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!

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