If you have lost work due to COVID-19 Pandemic lockdowns or other public health measures (such as the need to self-isolate) you may be entitled to Commonwealth Government financial assistance through Services Australia.
Currently, there are three different types of pandemic related income support payments available:
COVID–19 Disaster Payment
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment (Disaster Payment) is non-taxable payment available for individuals who have lost work or income as a result of a COVID-19 lockdown. It is available to people who currently receive a social security benefit/pension and to people who don’t already receive a social security benefit/pension.
In order to be eligible for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, individuals must:
- be aged at least 17 years old;
- be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a holder of a visa with work rights;
- reside or work in, or have visited, an area subject to a public health order, such as a lockdown, and which has been determined by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer to be a COVID-19 hotspot (or in another area outside of the hotspot where the state or territory government has agreed to fund the payment);
- be unable to work and have lost income because of the lockdown;
- not be receiving a state based Pandemic related income support payment, Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment or a state small business payment for the same lockdown period; and
- have insufficient leave entitlements.
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment has three different payment rates, depending on how many hours an eligible recipient was unable to work due to the lockdown and whether the person is already in receipt of a social security benefit/pension:
- $200 per week for those in receipt of an income support payment who lost eight or more hours of work per week or a full day of their usual hours per week (what the person was scheduled to work including shifts of less than eight hours)
- $450 for those who lost between eight and less than 20 hours of work per week or a full day of their usual work hours per week and who do not currently receive a social security benefit/pension
- $750 for those who lost 20 hours or more of work and who do not currently receive a social security benefit/pension.
Lodging a claim for COVID-19 Disaster Payment
Eligible individuals can apply for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment by:
- Signing into MyGov
- Selecting ‘Apply for Support from the Government, support for coronavirus’
- Under ‘Affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19)’ select ‘Get started’
- Select ‘Apply for COVID-19 Disaster Payment’
- Answer the eligibility and claim questions
- Submit claim.
If you can’t apply online, or you the holder of a temporary visa with work rights, you can call 180 22 66, Monday to Friday 8 am to 5 pm, to apply.
You can find out more about the Disaster Payment here.
Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
A taxable payment for individuals who are required to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The payment provides $1,500 for each 14-day period a person is required self-isolate, quarantine or care for a person with COVID-19.
In order to be eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, individuals must:
- be aged at least 17 years old;
- be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a temporary visa holder with the right to work;
- be unable to attend work due to:
- being advised by a health officer that they or a child in their care, is required to self-isolate or quarantine at home because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of a person who has tested positive; or
- caring for someone that has tested positive for COVID-19;
- have expected to work during the period of self-isolation or quarantine, or while caring for someone with COVID-19;
- not be receiving an income support payment or JobKeeper Payment;
- not have received or applied for an equivalent state support payment for the same period; and
- have insufficient appropriate paid leave entitlements or will exhaust those entitlements during the 14-day period of the payment.
Lodging a claim for Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
Eligible individuals can apply for Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment by either:
- calling Services Australia on 180 22 66; or
You can find out more about the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment here:
Crisis Payment for National Health Emergency (COVID-19)
The Crisis Payment for National Health Emergency (COVID-19) (NHE Crisis Payment) is a one-off payment for individuals affected by COVID-19 who are already in receipt of a social security benefit or pension.
The payment rate is equivalent to a week’s pay at the maximum basic rate of an individual’s income support payment or ABSTUDY Living Allowance. It doesn’t include other allowances or supplements.
Eligible individuals are entitled to receive a maximum of two Crisis Payments for National Health Emergency in a 6-month period. However, eligible individuals are only entitled to receive one payment per quarantine or self-isolation.
Individuals may be eligible for this payment if;
- they are eligible for an income support payment or ABSTUDY Living Allowance from Centrelink; and
- they are in severe financial hardship.
Individuals must also either be:
- required to be in quarantine or self-isolation in Australia; or
- caring for someone required to be in quarantine or self-isolation in Australia.
Individuals who are subject to state or territory lockdown rules are not regarded as being in quarantine or self-isolation if they are able to leave their home for a permitted purpose such as attending work, essential shopping or exercising.
Individuals or the person they care for must be in quarantine or self-isolation because of advice or a requirement made by:
- the Australian Government
- a state or territory government
- a health professional.
Individuals or the person they are caring for could be in quarantine or self-isolation for reasons such as:
- being diagnosed with COVID-19
- being in close contact with a diagnosed case of COVID-19
- having arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020
- feeling unwell with COVID-19 symptoms including fever, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat and fatigue
- waiting for COVID-19 test results.
Individuals receiving the Disaster Relief Payment are ineligible to receive the Crisis Payment for National Health Emergency (NHE) (COVID-19)
Lodging a claim for Crisis Payment for National Health Emergency (NHE) (COVID-19)
Eligible individuals can apply for the Crisis Payment for National Health Emergency (NHE) (COVID-19) by:
- Signing into MyGov
- From the menu select ‘Payments and Claims’, then ‘Claims’ then ‘Make a claim’
- Select ‘Crisis Payments’
- Select ‘Apply for Crisis Payment for National Health Emergency’
- Answer all the questions
- Submit claim.
You can find out more about the NHE Crisis Payment here.
Refused a Pandemic related payment?
If you have been refused one of these payments, you may have the right to have that decision reviewed. We recommend you seek legal advice about your review rights and options as soon as possible. It is important to obtain advice, or contact Centrelink to obtain information about your options, as soon as you receive your refusal decision as there might be important deadlines to apply for review.
If you live in Victoria and would like advice, or have other social security/Centrelink questions, you can call Social Security Rights Victoria, Monday to Thursday between 9:00am and 5:00pm (closed 1.00-2.00pm) on 0419 793 652 to obtain information or book an appointment with a lawyer (subject to guidelines).
If you live in another state, find your closest social security legal service here.