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COVID-19: Support for Individuals and Households

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There are a variety of supports currently in place, and more to be announced, to help individuals and households through the Coronavirus pandemic:

Income support payments: JobSeeker and JobKeeper

JobSeeker Payments

If you have been stood down or let go from a job, you may be eligible for the JobSeeker payment.

Eligibility criteria has recently changed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and to be eligible for the payment you must be between 22 and age pension age, meet the residence rules and have income under the threshold. You must also be either unemployed or unable to work or study due to a sickness or being injured.

The asset tests have now been waived.

In addition to the above tests, the threshold for partner’s earnings has been increased from $48,000 per year to $79,762 per year. This means that you should be able to receive a form of payment if your partner makes $3,068 or less per fortnight.

Refer here for more information.

Additional Supplement to Income Support Payments

A new six-month ‘Coronavirus supplement’ of $550 per fortnight will be paid to individuals who are currently eligible for certain income support payments including the Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance, and Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single).

Furthermore, it appears that this new supplement will be paid to eligible individuals in addition to their existing income support payments (e.g. Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance).

If an individual receives the current max Jobseeker Payment, the above supplement will increase their max payment from $565 a fortnight to $1,115 a fortnight.

Important tip! Even if you are eligible for a tiny payment of the income support payments (for example, $1 per fortnight), you will be eligible to receive the full $550 per fortnight amount.

Refer here for more information.

Additional note

Please note that JobKeeper payments and JobSeeker payments are not the same. JobKeeper payments are government wage subsidy payments made directly to an employer for eligible employees. The payment is a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight and payments start in the first week of May 2020.

These payments will not be paid through Services Australia, and your employer will notify you if they are claiming the JobKeeper payment on your behalf.

However, if you are or were a full-time, part-time or long-term casual employee (worked for 12 months or longer as at 1 March 2020), you may be eligible to receive this payment. Speak directly with your employer to discuss your eligibility.

Refer here for more information.

Tax-free Payments of $750 to Eligible Recipients

Implementation of two separate $750 tax-free payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and to eligible concession card-holders.

The first $750 payment will be available to individuals who are residing in Australia and are receiving an eligible Government payment or are the holders of an eligible concession card at any time from 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020 (inclusive).  The payment will be made automatically from 31 March 2020

The second $750 payment will be available to individuals who are residing in Australia and are receiving one of the eligible Government payments or are the holders of one of the eligible concession cards on 10 July.  This automatic payment will exclude those receiving the $550 fortnightly Coronavirus supplement (above) and will be paid out from 13 July onwards.

Refer here for more information.

Early Access to Superannuation Benefits

Individuals will be able to access their superannuation entitlements (tax-free) where one or more of the following requirements are satisfied:

Under this new compassionate grounds of release, eligible individuals will be able to access (as a lump sum) up to $10,000 of their superannuation entitlements before 1 July 2020 and a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020.

Refer here for more information.

Reducing the Minimum Drawdown Amounts for Superannuation Pensions

The Government will be temporarily reducing the superannuation minimum drawdown amounts for account-based pensions and similar products by 50% for the 2020 and 2021 income years.

This means that the total minimum annual pension amount that a superannuation fund is otherwise required to pay to a member receiving a pension from the fund will be reduced by half for these two income years. 

Refer here for more information.

Loans, Chattel Mortgages and other Financing Repayments

Most banks are offering repayment holidays for up to 6 months as well as other options that include payment extensions and additional finance. Below is a summary of the current bank offers as at 27 March 2020.

Refer to your bank to see what they are offering.

Major Banks

ANZ: Customers can request a deferral of home loan repayments for up to six months, with a review at three-months, with interest capitalised, meaning it is added to the customer’s outstanding loan balance to be paid over the remaining loan term.

Bank Australia: Offering a deferral of scheduled home loan repayments for up to 3 months, with further 3-month extension possible following a review.

Bank of Melbourne: Customers who have lost their job or suffered a loss of income as a result of COVID-19 can contact BoM for three months deferral on their home loan mortgage repayments with extension for a further three months available after review.

Bankwest: To provide additional support to home loan customers who may need assistance at this time, Bankwest is offering an option to defer home loan repayments for six months. Customers will be able to apply for a deferral of home loan repayments through an online registration process, which is currently under development and will be made available as soon as possible. In the meantime, customers wanting to request a deferral of their home loan repayment can do so via secure messaging through Online Banking, or the Bankwest Mobile App, or by calling Bankwest.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank: Extending its existing COVID-19 assistance package for home loan customers, so affected customers can now apply for six months’ relief on loans, up from the three months previously announced on 16 March 2020.

Commonwealth Bank: All home loans and small business customers are now eligible to defer loan repayments by up to 6 months.

NAB: Pause home loan repayments for up to six months, including a three-month checkpoint.

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