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The pressure on Centrelink staff at the moment is considerable.
If you're still getting paid or still have income coming in, if you can wait a few days before contacting them, it would help enormously.
For people who have lost their jobs and need to apply for a payment urgently:
- If you have digital access, try applying online through myGov. Try again later if you don't get through.
- Call the Jobseeker Payment number – 132 850
- Visit a Centrelink office but expect to have to line up. Please practise social distancing in the queue.
Note: The government has enacted 'Intent to Claim' processes so you don’t have to lodge a full claim immediately. You'll be back paid to the day you lodged your intent to claim.
You will not miss out on income support because of delays to lodge a completed claim.
The advice from Centrelink if you have phone or online access, is please do not give up – try again later.
The JobSeeker payment, formerly known as the Newstart Allowance, is available to all Australian citizens and residents aged between 22 and 66 who are unemployed and pass the income and assets test. The amount varies depending on your circumstances, and is paid fortnightly.
You'll be paid from the date you inform Centrelink that you want to make a payment claim –waiting periods have been waived.
Note: As long as you have access to a phone, you do not need to visit a Centrelink office in person to claim for the JobSeeker payment. You'll be able to confirm your identity over the phone.
How to make a claim for the first time
- Ring Centrelink on 132 850 to register and obtain a Customer Reference Number (CRN).
- Visit myGov and create your account
- Select the 'Services' tab.
- Link Centrelink to your myGov account.
- The coronavirus supplement payment of $550 per fortnight begins on 27 April.
- If you're already receiving a payment from Centrelink, you do not have to do anything. If you are eligible, you'll automatically receive the additional payment.
- You will be back paid from when you inform Centrelink you want to make a payment claim, not when it is approved.
- If you're a couple and your partner earns more than $48,000, you are not eligible for the coronavirus supplement. That threshold amount may change, however.
- The following payments will be increased on 27 April by $550 per eligible person:
- jobseeker payment
- youth allowance
- parenting payment (partnered and single)
- farm household allowance
- special benefit.
- The government is working on what skilled visa holders are eligible for. At present there are no changes.