JobSeeker and COVID-19

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This page provides information about JobSeeker Payment and the temporary arrangements in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also covers what to do if you have a JobSeeker Payment claim rejected.

Use the links below to jump to the information you need:

What is JobSeeker Payment?

What are the temporary changes to JobSeeker Payment under the COVID-19 arrangements?

How to claim JobSeeker Payment?

When will payments commence?

How is JobSeeker Payment paid?

What are the Economic Support Payments?

Reviews and Appeals

Legal help

Looking for information about another type of Centrelink payment?

For information about other types of Centrelink payments related to COVID-19, including Crisis Payment, read this factsheet:

Factsheet: Covid-19 and Centrelink

For a step-by-step guide about how to claim a Centrelink payment during coronavirus (COVID-19), read this factsheet:

Factsheet: Claiming Centrelink during Covid-19

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What is JobSeeker Payment?

JobSeeker Payment is a new payment that incorporates Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance.

What are the temporary changes to JobSeeker Payment under the COVID-19 arrangements?

Eligibility criteria

Under the temporary arrangements a person who is 22 years or over may be eligible for JobSeeker Payment if they meet the residence eligibility criteria and they:

  • have been stood down without pay as a permanent employee
  • have lost income as a sole trader, self-employed person, casual worker or contract worker or
  • have lost income due to being required to care for someone who is affected by COVID-19.

Coronavirus supplement

People on JobSeeker Payment recipients will be paid the Coronavirus Supplement, an additional $550/fortnight. For more information see the Services Australia web page.

Income test

Under the temporary partner income test a person whose personal income is less than $194 per fortnight will have an income-tested entitlement to JobSeeker Payment if their partner is not on a pension and their partner’s income is less than $3,068.80 per fortnight.

Assets test

Assets will not be taken into account for assessing JobSeeker Payment.

Waiting periods

Some of the waiting periods that would normally apply to JobSeeker Payment will be waived, including:

  • The one-week Ordinary Waiting Period
  • The Liquid Asset Test Waiting Period
  • The Seasonal Work Preclusion Period
  • The Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period (NARWP).

When the COVID-19 arrangements cease in September/October 2020, people will be required to serve any remaining waiting period.

Mutual obligations

Mutual obligation requirements have been lifted until 8 June 2020. From 9 June 2020 mutual obligations will be gradually reintroduced, with JobSeeker Payment recipients required to undertake at least one appointment with their employment services provider (online or over the phone). During the initial period from 9 June, suspensions and financial penalties will not apply to job seekers who do not meet this requirement. Special circumstances exemptions from mutual obligations will continue to be available. Sole traders and people who are self-employed will continue to be exempt from mutual obligation requirements to enable businesses to be re-established.

For further information, read this factsheet:

Factsheet: COVID-19 and Centrelink

Other requirements for JobSeeker Payment that have been temporarily removed

To claim JobSeeker Payment, people will not need to

  • provide an Employment Separation Certificate, proof of rental arrangements or verification of relationship status
  • undertake the JobSeeker Classification Instrument – the questionnaire used to assess whether people who have recently left jobs are ‘job ready’ or need additional support
  • make an appointment with an employment service provider.

How to claim JobSeeker Payment?

For step by step instructions about how to claim Centrelink payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, read this factsheet:

Factsheet: Claiming Centrelink during Coronavirus

When will payments commence?

Although it may take some time for Centrelink to process a JobSeeker Payment claim, payment should date back to the date the ‘intention to claim’ was lodged (online, over the phone or in person) – as long the person lodged their claim within 14 days of lodging the intention to claim.

Currently, processing delays mean it may take some weeks to receive payment but:

  • If the person lodged their ‘intention to claim’ between 23 and 29 March 2020, and they then lodged their full claim by 19 April 2020, payment should be backdated to 23 March 2020
  • If the person lodged their ‘intention to claim’ after 29 March 2020, and they lodged your claim within 14 days, their payment should be backdated to the date they lodged their ‘intention to claim’.

Leave entitlements can affect the date from which payment can be made. It is important to register an intention to claim JobSeeker Payment as soon as possible, even if leave entitlements are being received, so that JobSeeker Payment can commence when they finish. You can register via this page. Once a claimant is receiving JobSeeker Payment, they will automatically receive the fortnightly Coronavirus Supplement.

How is JobSeeker Payment paid?

JobSeeker Payment is paid fortnightly into the recipient’s bank account. It is paid for the fortnight that has just passed. It is not paid in advance.

What are Economic Support Payments?

The First Economic Support Payment ($750): The first Economic Support Payment was paid to people who were entitled to JobSeeker Payment between 12 March and 13 April 2020. For people with JobSeeker claims that had/have not been processed, the first Economic Support Payment will be paid when the claim is granted.

The Second Economic Support Payment ($750), to be made in July, will not be paid to people receiving the Coronavirus Supplement. This means that it will not be paid to JobSeeker Payment recipients.

Reviews and Appeals

If a person’s claim is rejected, they have the right to have the decision reviewed by an Authorised Review officer, and then the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Reviews and appeals are often successful. Although it’s not necessary, it’s a good idea to get legal advice before appealing.

To seek a review:

  • Phone or visit Centrelink, and/or
  • Complete a form called ‘Review of Decision’ and returning it to Centrelink. It is important to appeal within 13 weeks of receiving the original decision in writing to ensure back payment. For more information read this factsheet:

Factsheet: Appealing a Centrelink Decision

Legal help

If you need legal support, your local specialist community legal centre may be able to help. Find your nearest community legal centre.