How to actually receive your stimulus payments

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on March 24, 2020
How to actually receive your stimulus payments

David Jackmanson on Flickr

Two rounds of $750 stimulus and $550 extra in Centrelink are on the table for many, but how do you actually receive the payments?

In recent weeks, the Government announced three significant rounds of stimulus, worth more than $100 billion.

The first included $750 one-time payments to more than 6.5 million Australians receiving various types of welfare. 

The second included a doubling down of that $750, along with $550 extra per fortnight for six months for those on Newstart/JobSeeker, as well as for students and other select groups.

The third, and biggest, was the $1,500 'JobKeeper' wage subsidy for small businesses to pass onto their laid off workers.

However, in the day after round two was announced, the MyGov website crashed, and there were lines out the door of Centrelink locations around the country - social distancing implied, of course.

There's a lot of confusion about what's actually happening and how people are receiving the payments, so what's the deal?

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            How to receive your stimulus payments

            There's a lot of confusion around who is receiving what and when. How to get the payments is also a major question, so we've explained it below.

            It's important to note that if you're aged under 22, you are classed as a dependent by Centrelink unless you can prove you are independent, so your eligibility could be based on your parents'/caregivers' incomes.

            $1,500 JobKeeper wage subsidy and eligibility

            The $1,500 per fortnight for six months JobKeeper payment per employee first goes to your employer, and then on to you if you are eligible. Payments will flow from from the first week of May, backdated to 30 March.

            The good news is that if you are an eligible employee, you do not need to do anything. This is not a Centrelink errand - do not call them, or line up at Centrelink and increase risk of coronavirus.

            Businesses need to register an intention to apply on the ATO website, which will assess if they have experienced the required turnover decline requirements:

            • Businesses with a turnover of less than $1 billion that have a reduction in revenue of 30% or more since March 1 
            • Businesses with a turnover of $1 billion or more that have a reduction in revenue of 50% or more since March 1

            For employees, the eligible categories are as follows:

            • Full-time workers
            • Part-time workers
            • Sole traders
            • Casuals who have been with their employer for at least 12 months
            • New Zealanders on 444 visas
            • Not-for-profit entities

            It's important to note that if you receive the $1,500 JobKeeper subsidy, you are not eligible for the $550 extra in JobSeeker (below).

            This is because as the labels imply, JobKeeper is an incentive for businesses to keep you employed and earning money, even if you aren't technically working any hours due to closures from coronavirus. JobSeeker, on the other hand, is for the unemployed/looking for work. 

            $750 payments and eligibility

            The first $750 payment applies to those receiving any of the following welfare:

            • Newstart (JobSeeker)
            • Carer's Allowance
            • Family Tax Benefit 
            • Disability Support Pension
            • Youth Allowance
            • Veterans Support
            • Commonwealth Senior Health Card holders
            • Aged pension

            The first $750 will start flowing through from the Australian Tax Office to nominated bank accounts via MyGov from 31 March for the first payment, with most landing in bank accounts by 17 April.

            The second will flow through from 13 July, and could take a few days to land in bank accounts.

            However the list of recipients now omits JobSeeker, as those recipients are receiving the $550 Coronavirus Supplement. Eligible second $750 recipients include:

            • Age Pension
            • Bereavement Allowance
            • Carer Allowance
            • Carer Payment
            • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
            • Disability Support Pension
            • Double Orphan Pension
            • Family Tax Benefit A
            • Family Tax Benefit B
            • Pensioner Concession Card

            Eligible recipients don't need to do anything - this is automatic. To check your details to make sure it's paid in the right place, log in to your MyGov or Centrelink accounts, or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app. 

            It's important to note you won't get the second payment if you're getting the 'coronavirus supplement' (below).

            Extra $550 payments and eligibility

            With the $550 'coronavirus supplement', the maximum base rate for jobseekers will be $1,115.70 per fortnight, excluding rent assistance and family payments, applied from 27 April.

            • You cannot access JobSeeker payments or the extra $550 if you are eligible for/receiving the JobKeeper payment.

            This payment is eligible to:

            The Government has also temporarily extended the JobSeeker payment to:

            • A permanent employee who has been stood down or lost their job; or
            • A sole trader, self-employed, a casual or contract worker whose income has been reduced; or someone who is caring for someone affected by coronavirus.

            Asset tests will be waived from 27 April for six months, except for Farm Household and Special Benefit recipients - income testing will still apply.

            The three month waiting period will also be waived, as will the liquid asset test waiting period, newly arrived residents waiting period, and seasonal work preclusion period. 

            It's important to note you can't access annual leave or sick leave, or income protection insurance at the same time as getting these payments. 

            If you're already receiving one of these payments, you don't need to do anything - this will apply automatically, starting 27 April. However, if you're not, keep reading below.

            How to get the crisis payment

            The crisis payment is a one-time payment equal to a week's pay of your existing income support payment rate. This applies to those who can't work because they are isolated at home due to coronavirus and don't have any leave entitlements.

            The Government 'may' pay you this if you're in 'severe financial hardship' and you receive an income support payment like JobSeeker or Youth Allowance for job seekers. 

            How to apply if you've never received welfare before

            Many have suddenly found themselves without a job due to businesses closing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of them have never had to deal with the likes of Centrelink before in their lives. 

            Similarly, students on part-time work may also be affected.

            • You do not need to ring or visit Centrelink if you are looking to receive the JobKeeper $1,500 per fortnight payment - this is arranged through the ATO and your employer.

            If you're in one of the eligible groups above, here's how to begin the process:

            • Log in or create an account at MyGov and link your account to your Centrelink account.
            • You can create a Centrelink online account via the website or through the 'Express Plus Lite' mobile app. Income reporting is also available through here.
            • Have your ID (e.g. drivers' licence) and tax file number ready.
            • You can claim online via this process, or call Services Australia - just be aware you may be on hold for a while.
            • You don't necessarily need to line-up outside Centrelink, risking exposure to coronavirus.

            If you have never received a government support payment before, it can be confusing navigating through all of the different jargon like Newstart, JobSeeker, Austudy and so on. While the process to start receiving the extra welfare can look confusing, it may just require a good dose of patience.

            Be wary of coronavirus scams

            The Government has urged Australians to be wary of stimulus payment scams. Here's some useful things to know:

            • Services Australia/Centrelink/MyGov will never contact you asking for your bank account or contact details.
            • If in doubt, hang up the phone and then call on one of the verified numbers listed on the Services Australia website.
            • Genuine contact is made by text or email, and involves the following: Requests/reminders to attend appointments, notifications of payments, confirmation of changes to your details, notifications of a new message in your MyGov inbox.

            If in doubt, delete or hang up, and contact Centrelink or MyGov directly.

            Since 1 January, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch site has received 94 reports of scams about coronavirus. The ACCC also warns figures are sharply climbing.

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            Harrison is's Assistant Editor. Prior to joining Savings in January 2020, he worked for some of Australia's largest comparison sites and media organisations. With a keen interest in the economy, housing policy, and personal finance, Harrison strives to deliver and edit news and guides that are engaging, thought-provoking, and simple to read.

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