How to apply for the government’s coronavirus safety net

Centrelink payments have been drastically increased to ease the economic trauma inflicted by the coronavirus.

Centrelink payments have been drastically increased to ease the economic trauma inflicted by the coronavirus. Photo: The New Daily

Hundreds of thousands of students have been added to the list of people eligible to receive a $550 boost to their fortnightly welfare payments.

In a last-minute turnaround, the Morrison government late on Monday night agreed to extend its coronavirus crisis package to include Australians on youth allowance, Austudy and Abstudy.

It means about 230,000 full-time students will receive extra cash on top of their study assistance, to get them through what the government is warning will be the toughest year in the lives of many Australians, young and old alike.

Recipients of jobseeker, youth allowance, parenting and special benefit payments had already been included in the measures which, from April 27, will effectively double the unemployment benefit.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also hinted on Monday there could be more help on the way for Australians, on top of the two $17.6 billion and $66 billion coronavirus support packages.

Am I eligible for the coronavirus supplement?

The supplement is available to anyone receiving the following payments:

If you’ve previously applied to receive one of these payments and been knocked back, don’t be disheartened – you might be eligible now.

In addition to increasing payments, government will waive asset testing for JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Parenting payments.

This means home owners (among others) are more likely to qualify for financial assistance as Centrelink won’t factor in the value of their home and assets when assessing applications.

Income testing will still apply, so if you’re still earning a healthy wage (more than $1075 a fortnight), you might not be entitled to government help.

Eligibility rules have also been expanded to include:

  • Permanent employees who have been temporarily stood down
  • Sole traders, self-employed, casual and contract workers who have lost income
  • People caring for someone affected by the coronavirus.

The government has waived many of the waiting periods to speed up the payments.

How do I claim the coronavirus supplement?

If you’re already receiving an eligible Centrelink payment, Services Australia will automatically pay you the coronavirus supplement from April 27.

If you’re not already receiving a qualifying payment, you will need to apply through Centrelink.

This can typically be done over the phone or online through the myGov portal.

But a surge in the number of people trying to access Centrelink on Monday overloaded and crashed the myGov website.

What if I’m not eligible for the coronavirus supplement?

Australians who don’t qualify for the supplement aren’t being left to fend for themselves.

From July 13, Centrelink will pay a second $750 economic support payment.

Initially, the economic support payment was designed to be a one-off sum to help 6.2 million Australians receiving pensions, concessions and tax benefits.

You will only receive one payment even if you have multiple qualifying cards or benefits.

The payments will be made automatically but won’t be given to anyone receiving the coronavirus supplement.

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