SuperTalk Blog

COVID-19 (coronavirus) financial help for individuals

 


COVID financial assistance

Updated 23 July 2020

On 22 July 2020, the Federal Government announced amendments to the various stimulus assistance (including JobKeeper and the coronavirus supplement for those on a number of Government benefits). You can view all the details fo the new initiatives, which come into effect in late September 2020, here.

This article you are currently viewing contains details of the payments available in the JobKeeper scheme from late March to late September 2020.

Coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the economy. People are losing jobs, and wondering what they can do to prevent financial ruin. This article explains the recently announced Federal Government changes for individuals. As things change, we will continue to update this page.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the financial help available:

  • Superannuation income protection and TPD insurance
  • Superannuation early access up to $10,000
  • Stimulus package – cash payments
  • Coronavirus supplements for welfare recipients

Superannuation – Insurance

Most people have insurance attached to their superannuation account. If you can’t work because of a medical condition, you might be entitled to income protection benefits, or total and permanent disability (TPD) benefits.

Income protection benefits pay you a monthly amount, and the benefits can be payable for 2 years, 5 years or to age 65 (and rarely, but sometimes, payable for the rest of your life).

A TPD benefit is a lump sum paid through your superannuation fund and can often be a 6-figure lump sum that can provide significant financial benefit if you’re no longer able to work.

Caution

There are current laws from the Federal Government which mean that if you have insurance in your super, and an account balance of less than $6,000 you will lose your insurance cover unless you notify the super fund prior to 1 April 2020 – ACT NOW if you want to keep your insurance cover.

Superannuation – early access to up to $10,000

The Federal Government has announced that eligible individuals can access up to $10,000 of their super due to COVID-19 conditions.

To be eligible, you must meet one of the following criteria: 

  1. You are unemployed;
  2. You are eligible to receive:
    1. Job Seeker Payment;
    2. Youth Allowance;
    3. Parenting Payment (partnered and single);
    4. Special Benefit or Farm Household Allowance.
  3. On or after 1 January 2020 you were made redundant;
  4. On or after 1 January 2020 your working hours were reduced by 20% or more;
  5. If you’re a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in turnover of 20% or more.

Accessing super now, when the economic markets have dropped very significantly can mean that you’re locking in some losses. You should think carefully before accessing super, and if you need, obtain financial advice.

How to apply

If you want to apply for the early release of super, the easiest way is to apply through your MyGov account (https://my.gov.au )

Early access to your superannuation will be available from mid-April 2020.

How do I receive the money?

Under the new rules, once the ATO has determined you’re entitled to the early release, the super fund must pay the monies to you as soon as practicable.

The super fund isn’t allowed to ask for more documents. Any monies released under these provisions will be tax-free.

Importantly, you can claim again for a further $10,000 after 1 July 2020.

Stimulus - cash payments for eligible individuals

The government has announced that they will pay two payments of $750 to social security, veteran and income support recipients and eligible concession cardholders.

The first payment is due to be made between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020.

A second payment of a further $750 will be paid from 10 July 2020.

JobKeeper Payment

The Federal Government has announced the introduction of the new JobKeeper Payment as a part of a $130 billion package.

An eligible employer is a business (including sole-trader), not-for-profit or charity who meet the following criteria:

  • Has a turnover of less than $1bn and who have lost 30% or more of their revenue compared to a comparable period a year ago.
  • Has a turnover of $1bn or more and with at least a 50% reduction in revenue compared to a comparable period a year ago.

An eligible employee is an employee who:

  • was employed by an eligible employer at 1 March 2020;
  • was any of a sole trader, permanent full-time employee, part-time employee, or long-term casuals employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020;
  • is at least 16 years of age;
  • is an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a protected special category visa, a non-protected special category visa who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a New Zealander on a special category (subclass 444) visa.

An eligible employer will receive $1500 per fortnight per employee. The employer will be required to pass on all of the $1500 to the employee as a minimum, even if an employee earns less than that amount. So, some people will receive more than previously earnt, as a result of this subsidy.

The JobKeeper payment begins on 30 March 2020, but won’t be paid to employers until the first week of May. Payments will be backdated to 30 March and will be for a maximum period of 6 months.

If a person receives the JobKeeper payment, they are not entitled to also receive the JobSeeker payment (see below).

An important part of the JobKeeper payment is that it keeps employees connected to employers so, hopefully, once the economy starts to improve, employees will be able to return to their previous role and normal life will continue.

Coronavirus Supplement

The Federal Government has announced that a supplement of $550 per fortnight will be paid to new and existing welfare income recipients from 27 April 2020 for a 6 month period.

The Coronavirus supplement is payable for people who are in receipt of the following payments:

  • JobSeeker (Newstart) payments
  • Youth allowances
  • Parenting allowances
  • Farm household allowance
  • Special benefits
  • Youth allowance for students
  • Austudy for students
  • ABSTUDY for students

This supplement is automatically applied to your welfare payment for six months from 27 April 2020.

Are you still entitled to JobSeeker payments if you were “stood down”?

We have seen some confusion about whether you have to be “unemployed” to be entitled to the JobSeeker payment. That is, if you’re still “on the books” but not getting paid because there is no work, can you still claim the JobSeeker payment?

The answer is if you’ve been stood down, you ARE entitled to apply for the JobSeeker payment even if you’re technically still employed.

Under the Social Security Guides, a person who is on unpaid leave can be considered unemployed if they are not able to resume their employment and they are willing to look for suitable work. 

So, if you’re unemployed or you’ve been stood down you should notify Centrelink of your intention to claim the JobSeeker payment as soon as possible.

Applying for Centrelink benefits

To apply for Centrelink benefits you can now lodge a Notice of Intent to claim online.

Log onto your MyGov account and click the ‘Intent to Claim’ button.

Centrelink will then contact you for any further information to enable them to process the claim; e.g. proof of income etc.

If successful, you will get payments backdated to when you lodged the notice.

Sickness Allowance replaced by JobSeeker Payment

Note: from 20 March 2020 the Sickness Allowance is no longer available to new entrants and has instead been replaced by the Job Seeker Payment.

If you are a current Sickness Allowance recipient, you remain entitled to the coronavirus supplement.

In addition to the amounts referred to above, there are many other entitlements which will apply to small business.

Caution

Sometimes accessing superannuation can cause you to lose valuable life or disability insurance cover.

Berrill & Watson Lawyers remain open, and we’re continuing to help people now. If you need help, please call us for a free chat.

Contact us for help

We want to continue to support vulnerable people & community groups in these very difficult times. For a full range of a number of FREE services we offer, please visit "Coronavirus - Berrill & Watson support".

Phone

Melbourne: 03 9448 8048

Brisbane: 07 3013 4300

Anywhere else in Australia:  03 9448 8048

Email

[email protected]


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