Personal Financial Hardship During COVID-19 – what payments are available?

We understand that these are uncertain times and that circumstances may have changed for many of you, often these changes have financial implications. We have put together a summary of payments available, and list of helpful links for people that are going through financial hardship during COVID-19.

COVID-19 PAYMENTS AND CENTRELINK

What payments am I eligible for?

ECONOMIC SUPPORT PAYMENTS.

You will be eligible for either one of two Economic Support Payments of $750 if you:

  • have a Seniors or Veteran health care card or
  • are receiving a Centrelink payment or Family Tax Benefit

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/economic-support-payment

JOBSEEKER PAYMENT.

You may be eligible for JobSeeker Payment if:

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

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/jobseeker-payment

CRISIS PAYMENT.

You may be eligible for Crisis Payment if you:

  • are self-isolating or
  • caring for someone who is self-isolating or
  • are in severe financial hardship

You must contact Centrelink within 14 days of starting quarantine or self-isolation and let them know about your ‘intention to claim’. You then have another 14 days to ‘make a claim’. These time limits are very strict so it is important that you follow them carefully.

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/crisis-payment/who-can-get-it/crisis-payment-national-health-emergency-covid-19

DISABILITY SUPPORT PENSION AND COVID-19

DSP recipients are not eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement. Some people on DSP have thought about switching to Jobseeker Payment so they can get the Coronavirus Supplement. It is important to understand the negative consequences of doing this.

DSP is a more suitable payment if you have a long-term disability or medical condition and you are unable to work 15 hours or more per week in the next 2 years.

What COVID-19 payments will I receive if I stay on DSP?

If you are currently receiving DSP and do not claim any new payments, you will:

  • keep your Pensioner Concession Card
  • get a $750 Economic Support Payment by 13 April
  • get a $750 Economic Support Payment in mid-July

You will receive these payments automatically. You do not need to do anything to get them. If you have recently applied for DSP, or you are planning to apply for DSP, you will receive the Economic Support Payments after your DSP is granted but only if you claimed or registeredyour ‘intent to claim’ DSP by 13 April 2020. However, if you were getting another type of Centrelink payment between 12 March and 13 April 2020 you will still get one or both of theEconomic Support Payments

If you cancel your DSP to claim the JobSeeker Payment, there are some things you should know:

  • DSP eligibility rules have changed, and it may not be the same as when you first claimed it, so you may not be able to get DSP if you try to claim it again.
  • To claim DSP again, you will need to:
    – submit a new a complete DSP claim and provide recent medical evidence from your treating health professionals; and
    – attend any assessments, if required, including a Job Capacity Assessment and Disability Medical Assessment.
  • In some cases, you may need to have actively participated in a Program of Support before you can get DSP.

If you claim the JobSeeker Payment, you will need to:

  • meet mutual obligation requirements; and
  • connect with a job service provider and agree to a Job Plan.

You may be able to stay on DSP and also receive JobKeeper Payment. Your JobKeeper Payments will be assessed as income under the DSP income test, as well as any other income you (or your partner) receive. The additional income from JobKeeper Payment may make your income high enough to stop your DSP. It is important to advise Centrelink of any increase in your income within 14 days.

If you reach the DSP income cut-off point (see the link below for current cut-off points), your DSP will stop. Your DSP will be suspended until your income per fortnight drops to below the

cut-off point. If you earn income higher than the cut-off point for more than 2 years your DSP

will be cancelled.

For more information on DSP income test, see:

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/disability-supportpension/who-can-get-it/non-medical-rules/income-and-assets-tests/income-test-pensions

You will need to consider how you will meet these requirements taking into account your disability or medical condition.

We recommend seeking advice before switching from DSP to Jobseeker payment.

Source: Economic Justice Australia Factsheet: Disability Support Pension and COVID-19 Payments (https://ejaustralia.org.au/latest-news/disability-support-pension-and-covid-19-payments/)

Further helpful resources:

http://ejaustralia.org.au/self-help/

https://ndh.org.au/debt-problems/covid19/

Additional free support is available at the National Debt Helpline: 1800 007 007, where you can speak to a financial counsellor to get advice.

Alternatively, please get in touch with our Patient & Carer Support Services team who can talk to you about the Financial Support available via Pancare. Please book a time that suits you using our online booking too and we will call you at your nominated preferred time.