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What help is available to Australians, how to access payments


The Federal Government has unveiled a raft of measures in a bid to stimulate Australia’s coronavirus-hit economy, and to help those affected by this unprecedented crisis.

Combined with measures already announced, including the Reserve bank’s injection of cash for banks to provide low-interest business loans, the total stimulus reaches $189 billion, just shy of 10 per cent of GDP.

Here’s what you need to know:

WHAT AM I ELIGIBLE FOR AS A CASUAL WORKER OR SOLE TRADER?

The Federal Government has introduced a “coronavirus supplement” of $550 a fortnight for those receiving payments through JobSeeker.

The Jobseeker Payment was previously known as Newstart, but has undergone a name change.

Sole traders and casual workers whose fortnightly income is less than $1,075 will be eligible to receive the full supplement.

It is available to both new and existing recipients of the JobSeeker Payment.

Sole traders or those self-employed will also be eligible.

People in these categories will need to make a declaration to Centrelink that the economic downturn has significantly reduced their businesses’ turnover.

Those on the JobSeeker Payment will still be required to actively look for work or build their skills.

Sole traders on the payment will not be required to do this, and will meet their mutual obligations by continuing to develop and sustain their business.

You can apply for the JobSeeker payment here.

WHAT OTHER PAYMENTS ATTRACT THE CORONAVIRUS SUPPLEMENT?

New and existing recipients of the Youth Allowance JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Payments will also receive the coronavirus supplement.

Asset testing will also be waived for the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance JobSeeker and Parenting payments.

More information can be found here.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE $750 PAYMENTS?

The $750 Economic Support payment will now be made twice, but eligibility changes.

All Social Security and Veterans’ income support recipients will receive the first payment from March 31. It will be paid automatically.

The second payment will also be made automatically, but only to those who are not receiving the $550 coronavirus supplement on top of their regular payment.

You can confirm whether you are eligible here.

I’M A PENSIONER. WHAT’S IN THE STIMULUS PACKAGE FOR ME?

Australians receiving the Age Pension will not receive the $550-a-fortnight coronavirus supplement.

However, they will be eligible for the two Economic Support payments of $750 each.

The Federal Government also revealed in both stimulus announcements that the deeming rate would be lowered.

The deeming rate is the amount the government assumes your financial assets are generating. It’s used to calculate a person’s income and can subsequently affect how much of the pension they can receive.

From May 1, the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent and the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent.

The move is expected to benefit about 900,000 income support recipients.

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HOW DO I ACCESS MY SUPERANNUATION?

From mid April individuals affected by COVID-19 will be able to access up to $10,000 of their super this financial year.

They will then be able to access a further $10,000 of their super savings in the 2020-21 financial year.

For applicants to be successful they must satisfy any one of the following requirements:

• Be unemployed.

• Be eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment or special benefit or farm household allowance.

• After January 1 this year were made redundant or had your working hours reduced by 20 per cent or more. If you’re a sole trader and your business was suspended or your turnover fell by 20 per cent of more you can apply.

The money released will be tax free and all payments will be managed by the Australian Taxation Office.

Once the measures are available applicants can apply though my.gov.au.

You can find out more here.

WHAT’S AVAILABLE FOR SMALL BUSINESS?

A tax-free, cash payment of up to $100,00 will be available to small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million to help keep staff employed. It will be paid as a full rebate on income tax witholdings.

The Federal Government expects this to benefit 690,000 businesses, and about 30,000 not-for-profit organisations will also be eligible.

CURRENT CENTRELINK CUSTOMERS:

· You do not need to do anything to receive the Economic Support Payment or Coronvirus Supplement.

· These will be paid automatically to you if you are on an eligible payment. Please do not call or visit Centrelink unless you have urgent or required business.

NEW CENTRELINK CUSTOMERS:

· If you don’t currently get an income support payment or don’t have a CRN and you need help because you’ve lost your job or had your income reduced, please start your claim online through myGov. The website (www.servicesaustralia.gov.au) has information about how to set up an account or link an existing account to Centrelink.

· If you need to provide proof of identity we can do this over the phone – you do not need to come into Centrelink. Your claim will still be processed whilst waiting for identity verification.

Websites with information: www.Australia.gov.au or www.servicesaustralia.gov.au



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