Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support

The department is supporting individuals and families affected by coronavirus through a range of measures.

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Whole of Government Response to coronavirus

The Australian Government is providing a range of measures to address the global health crisis related to coronavirus. Please visit The Treasury's webpage for information on the economic response to coronavirus including details of the JobKeeper payment scheme and an overview of the Government's targeted economic response packages.

For Department of Social Services specific related measures, please visit the Minister for Families and Social Services' webpage for Ministerial announcements.

For general health information and advice on coronavirus, please visit the Department of Health's webpage.

Emergency Assistance and Support

Information on immediate emergency assistance or support available for those affected by coronavirus:

  • For national emergency relief services, including food, clothing, vouchers or help with bills, contact your local arm of The Salvation Army or St Vincent De Paul.
  • For local emergency relief providers search 'Financial Crisis and Material Aid – Emergency Relief' at serviceproviders.dss.gov.au. Please note provider details are updated regularly but may not be current at the time of your search.
  • For financial counselling, including advice on managing debt, contact the free and confidential National Debt Helpline by calling 1800 007 007. Or visit MoneySmart for advice to help you manage your money.
  • •    For those experiencing domestic violence, please contact 1800 RESPECT. Mensline Australia and the Men's Referral Service also offer support to people using violence. If anyone is in immediate danger, call 000
  • Lifeline offers personal crisis support services. Call 131 114 at any time. Kids Helpline is a free service for young people aged 5 to 25. Kids, teens and young adults can call 1800 551 800 at any time.
  • Those on a low income may be eligible to apply for a 'No Interest Loan'. For more information and details on how to apply, visit Good Shepherd Microfinance.
  • To test eligibility for income support payments including JobSeeker, contact Services Australia by visiting servicesaustralia.gov.au.
  • For more information on how the JobKeeper payment impacts Disability Support Pension (DSP) and Carer Payment (CP) recipients, please see COVID-19 Impact on DSP and CP and JobKeeper Recipients - Fact Sheet
  • For advice on how to seek medical help or to get tested for coronavirus, contact your state or territory health authority, or call the coronavirus helpline on 1800 020 080 at any time.
  • Latest news, advice and public health information is available at Australia.gov.au, or download on the 'Coronavirus Australia' app from the Apple and Google Play stores.
  • There are a number of Government funded crisis and support services to help people during the coronavirus pandemic. Download a list of dedicated online and telephone-based services for people with disability, older Australians, carers and for people experiencing domestic, family or sexual violence.

Reduction in the Partner Income Test Taper Rate

The Government has decided to reduce the JobSeeker Payment Partner Income Test taper rate from 60 cents to 25 cents from 27 April 2020. This will allow more couples to access payment where one of the couple loses their job and goes onto JobSeeker Payment, and the working partner is on a more modest income.

The Government is committed to assisting Australians affected by the coronavirus outbreak through a range of measures in the social security system.  A temporary change to the partner income test will ensure that couples who experience an economic shock that results in one partner losing their job or having their earnings reduced, are able to access income support or have their existing entitlement increased.

What is the change?

  • Under the current allowance income test, the income a person's partner earns is taken into account when determining their rate of payment. Over the partner income free area of $994 per fortnight, every dollar of income reduces the person's JobSeeker Payment by 60 cents. 
  • For JobSeeker Payment (including Energy Supplement), the current cut-out for a couple in which only one partner earns income is $1,858.50 per fortnight or $48,321 per annum.
  • From 27 April 2020 the taper rate for the partner income test associated with JobSeeker Payment will change from 60c to 25c. This change is temporary and will operate until the Coronavirus Supplement ceases to be payable. As a result of this change, the new partner income test cut-out for JobSeeker Payment will be $3,068.80 per fortnight, or $79,788.80 per year.
  • New and existing JobSeeker Payment recipients whose payment rate is adjusted because of partner income will benefit from this proposal.

People with disability

The Government released the Management and operational plan for COVID-19 for people with disability on 17 April. This plan sets out a national approach to ensure that the healthcare needs of people with disability, their families and carers can be met during the pandemic, including access to appropriate screening, prevention and health care. You can find the full details of the plan on the Department of Health website.

The department understands that people with disability, their carers and their families may be particularly affected by coronavirus.

People with disability who need help because of coronavirus can contact the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787. More information, links, resources and support are available on the department’s Disability and carer's webpage.

First Economic Support Payment

On 12 March 2020, the Government announced it will provide an Economic Support payment of $750 to approximately 6.8 million existing payment recipients and concession card holders that are eligible as at 12 March 2020. On 22 March 2020, the eligibility criteria for this payment was extended to new payment recipients who are eligible for their payment or card between 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020 (inclusive). As long as someone had lodged a claim for an eligible payment and was eligible for that payment by 13 April 2020, they should have already received this economic support payment via Services Australia or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Payments were made from 31 March 2020 and would have been received by the majority of recipients by 17 April 2020.

Eligibility for the first Economic Support payment was for the following payment recipients and concession cardholders, given that they resided in Australia and were eligible as at 13 April 2020:

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Parenting Payment
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow B Pension
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • JobSeeker Payment (formerly Newstart Allowance)
  • Youth Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Family Tax Benefit, including Double Orphan Pension
  • Carer Allowance
  • Pensioner Concession Card holders
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders
  • Veteran Service Pension; Veteran Income Support Supplement; Veteran Compensation payments, including lump sum payments; War Widow(er) Pension; and Veteran Payment
  • DVA PCC holders; DVA Education Scheme recipients; Disability Pensioners at the temporary special rate; DVA Income support pensioners at $0 rate
  • Veteran Gold Card holders
  • Farm Household Allowance.

Second Economic Support Payment

The Government announced on 22 March 2020, it would provide a second Economic Support payment of $750 to approximately 5 million recipients under the same eligibility criteria as the first Economic Support payment, provided the recipient does not receive the Coronavirus Supplement with their payment. If recipients are eligible at 10 July 2020, this second Economic Support payment will be automatically paid via Services Australia or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Payments will be made from 13 July onwards.

Please visit the Services Australia website for more information on each individual payment.

Coronavirus Supplement

On 22 March 2020, the Government announced it will provide a temporary payment of $550 per fortnight, known as the Coronavirus Supplement, to new and existing eligible income support recipients. On 24 March 2020, the Government extended the eligibility criteria for this payment to Australians receiving student support payments including Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY. Eligible recipients will receive the Coronavirus Supplement from 27 April 2020 along with their usual payment.

Eligibility for the Coronavirus Supplement is for people receiving the following payments:

  • JobSeeker Payment (formerly known as Newstart Allowance)
  • Youth Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Parenting Payment
  • Partner Allowance
  • Widow Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit.

Expanding Eligibility and Qualification for Payments

The Government also temporarily put in place expanded eligibility and qualification criteria from 25 March 2020.

Eligibility for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance for jobseekers have been expanded to assist:

  • sole traders and self-employed people. They will be able to meet mutual obligation requirements by continuing to operate their businesses.
  • permanent employees who have been stood down or lost their job.
  • people caring for someone infected or in isolation as a result of contact with Coronavirus.

The following eligibility criteria have also been temporarily waived, for certain payments:

  • the assets test
  • the Ordinary Waiting Period (already waived until 12 June 2020)
  • the Liquid Assets Waiting Period
  • the Seasonal Workers Preclusion Period
  • the Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period.

Also from 25 March 2020, access to payments will become easier with a temporary removal of the requirement for an Employment Separation Certificate, proof of rental arrangements and verification of relationship status.

Crisis Payment

Changes are also being made to crisis payment to ensure people who are in financial hardship and need to self-isolate receive the support they need.

Gradual return of mutual obligation requirements

The Government has announced that as steps are taken to re-open the Australian economy, mutual obligation requirements for job seekers will re-commence, in a limited capacity, from Tuesday 9 June 2020.

This follows decisions of National Cabinet to gradually remove COVID-19 restrictions and allow many businesses across the economy to re-open.

Mutual obligation requirements remain suspended until Monday 8 June 2020 to ensure job seekers and employment service providers are given time to prepare for the new arrangements.

From Tuesday 9 June 2020, job seekers will be required to undertake at least one appointment with their employment services provider, which can be done online or over the phone. During the initial period following the reintroduction of mutual obligations, suspensions and financial penalties will not apply to job seekers who do not meet this requirement.

The Government strongly encourages job seekers to maintain contact with their employment services provider at this time to ensure they are aware of opportunities available for training, upskilling or employment.

Special circumstances exemptions will continue to be available from Services Australia for job seekers who require them. Sole traders and those who are self-employed will continue to be exempted from requirements to allow them to work to re-establish their business.

Current income support recipients who cannot meet mutual obligation requirements due to isolation should call Services Australia and can be granted a Major Personal Crisis exemption, without having to provide evidence such as a medical certificate.

Students receiving Youth Allowance (student) or other study related payments who are in Australia but unable to attend studies due to coronavirus would be taken to have a reasonable excuse for not meeting study activity requirements for their payments. Individuals in this situation must contact Services Australia to advise them of the circumstances.

Details of further changes to mutual obligation requirements will be made available in the coming weeks.

Employment Fund

To further assist job seekers to prepare for and move quickly back into work, the Morrison Government is also bringing forward the Employment Fund credit for the most job-ready job seekers to be available immediately, rather than after 13 weeks, which is currently the case.

This change will apply to job seekers who commence in jobactive from 4 May 2020.

The Employment Fund can be used by employment service providers to purchase work-related items including licenses, equipment, training or qualifications to ensure workers are prepared and able to take up critical roles in the economy.

Simplifying Income Reporting

The Government is also creating flexibility associated with the commencement of the Simplifying Income Reporting Act, which was due to start on 1 July 2020. This will allow for the commencement date to be set taking into account the effect of the Coronavirus on income support recipients and Services Australia resources.

Information for DSS Grant Recipients – coronavirus

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Coronavirus Supplement?

The Coronavirus Supplement is a temporary fortnightly payment that will be provided to recipients of JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment, Sickness Allowance, Farm Household Allowance, Special Benefit, Widow Allowance, Partner Allowance, Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY (Living Allowance) and Austudy.

How much is the Coronavirus Supplement?

The temporary Coronavirus Supplement is $550 per fortnight to new and existing eligible income support recipients, in addition to their regular payment.

Do I have to do anything to get it?

No. If you are in receipt of an eligible income support payment, you will automatically receive the Coronavirus Supplement.

When will I start receiving the additional $550 per fortnight?

The Coronavirus Supplement commences on 27 April 2020.

Is the Coronavirus Supplement taxable?

Yes.

Will the Coronavirus Supplement go onto my Cashless Debit Card?

If you are in receipt of an eligible income support payment and you are a Cashless Debit Card participant, the Coronavirus Supplement will be treated the same as your regular payments. The Coronavirus Supplement will go onto your Cashless Debit Card using the same payment split that you currently receive. That is, 80 per cent of the whole income support payment will be placed onto your Cashless Debit Card and the remaining 20 per cent will be placed into your regular bank account.

Will the Coronavirus Supplement go into my Income Management account?

If you are in receipt of an eligible income support payment and you are an Income Management participant, the Coronavirus Supplement will be treated the same as your regular payments. The same payment split that you currently receive for your whole payment will still apply. The percentage that is placed in your Income Management account will depend on which Income Management measure you have been placed on.

Do people have to wait until 27 April 2020 to apply for a payment?

People can apply for a payment as soon as they need it.

The expanded eligibility and qualification criteria came into effect from 25 March 2020.

If a person qualifies for a payment before 25 March 2020 and has to serve a waiting period (other than the Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period), they will receive a payment back to the date of their claim once the waiting period is suspended.

Recent migrants will be able to have their Newly Arrived Resident's Waiting Period waived from 25 March 2020.

What is the Economic Support Payment?

The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The first Economic Support Payment is for people who are receiving a qualifying payment or card between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020 (inclusive), and was paid to majority of recipients by 17 April 2020. The second Economic Support Payment is for people receiving a qualifying payment or card on 10 July 2020 so long as they do not receive the Coronavirus Supplement with their payment.

Do I have to do anything to get the Economic Support Payment?

No, you will automatically get the $750 if you are eligible. You will only get one payment, even if you get more than one qualifying payment or card. Where Services Australia does not have bank details, they will contact eligible recipients to get these details.

Will I receive multiple Economic Support payments and if so, when?

Services Australia and the Department of Veterans' Affairs will automatically deliver payments to eligible recipients with the first payment from 31 March 2020 and the second payment from 13 July 2020. A person can be eligible to receive both the first and second support payment, however, they will only receive $750 once in each round of payments, even if they receive more than one qualifying payment or card.

My claim for a qualifying payment or card has not yet been processed. Will I still get the Economic Support Payment?

If you have lodged a claim for one of the qualifying payments or concession cards between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020, and the claim is subsequently granted from a date on or before that period, you will receive the payment. This will also apply for the second round of payments. So if you have lodged a claim for one of the qualifying payments or concession on 10 July 2020, and the claim is subsequently granted from a date on or before that date, you will receive the payment.

Does the Economic Support Payment go onto the Cashless Debit Card?

If you are in receipt of an eligible income support payment and you are a Cashless Debit Card participant, the full $750 will be placed onto your Cashless Debit Card. This is the same for other lump-sum payments. This will apply for both rounds of payments.

Does the Economic Support Payment go into my Income Management account?

If you are in receipt of an eligible income support payment and you are an Income Management participant, the full $750 will be placed into your Income Management account. This is the same for other lump-sum payments. This will apply for both rounds of payments.

Will I get paid the Economic Support payment if I'm a part rate Age Pensioner?

Yes. You will receive the full $750.

Will I get paid the Economic Support payment if I receive Family Tax Benefit as a lump sum?

Yes. Recipients who claim Family Tax Benefit as a lump sum after the end of the financial year will be eligible for the payment if they are eligible for Family Tax Benefit in the 2019-20 and/or 2020-21 financial year and will receive the Economic Support payment as part of their lump sum payment.

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