How to apply for Centrelink’s Jobseeker Payment amid the COVID-19 crisis

Centrelink can be difficult to navigate even during the best of times, and the current COVID-19 situation has compounded this even further. With many Australians being stood down, losing customers or finding themselves without a job, the website has been under a lot of pressure, to the point of crashing on Monday. What used to be called the Newstart Allowance is now the Jobseeker Payment, and it may be difficult to learn how to apply in such tumultuous times. We will guide you through every step of the process below, so that you can get the money you need, fast.  

As you are probably aware, the wait times on the Centrelink hotline are huge, and the lines at the service centres are not much better. Getting through as much of the process online as you can is the best option.  

Here is a step by step guide to signing up to the Jobseeker Payments. 

7 simple steps to applying for the Jobseeker Payment 

Step one is to create a new MyGov account or log in to your existing one. 

Step two is to log in to, or create, your Centrelink account. 

If you’ve got one and have received payments before, you can skip to the next step.  

If you’ve received payments but don’t have an account, you can try to find your Customer Reference Number (CRN) or Customer Access Number (CAN) on any old emails, letters or concession cards from Centrelink. If you can’t find this, you will have to call Centrelink and answer some security questions to get the number. 

If you don’t have an account and have never received payments from Centrelink, you will have to create an account. Fortunately, the COVID-19 situation has caused some changes to the process, meaning you no longer have to go to a service centre to confirm your identity. Instead, you can do this over the phone, although this will still result in a lengthy wait time.  

Step three, link your Centrelink account to your MyGov. This will allow you to access Centrelink through the MyGov portal. 

Step four involves getting the right documentation for your claim. Everyone has different circumstances, but you will find out which ones you need during the process. A couple of common ones are explained below. 

If you’ve still got a job, but have reduced hours, you will need a letter from your employer to confirm this.  

If you have lost your job, you will need to fill out an employment separation certificate for every employer you have worked for in the last 12 months. Note that this requirement will be waived from April 27 onwards. Also waived on this date will be the requirement for proof of rental arrangements and verification of relationship status.  

Step five. You can begin your claim. Access Centrelink through the MyGov portal and select Payments & Claims. Click on Claims and then Make a Claim. Select the most relevant category to you and then click Get Started. There will be some required documents you must find and submit now, but you have 14 days for any supplementary documents.  

Step six involves you booking a phone appointment with Centrelink. Note the appointment time and keep your phone with you, they will call from a private number. 

The final step is to wait for approval. If you get it, Centrelink will contact you through MyGov, the Express Plus Centrelink app or mail and tell you when you need to report. Reporting will need to occur every two weeks, and for this you must provide your income for the last 14 days as well as confirmation of any mutual obligations you have. 

Your mutual obligations for the Jobseeker Payment will depend on your circumstances, but as of April 27 these will be changed. 

Sole traders and self-employed people who earn less than $1,075 a fortnight will only be required to keep their business operational to fulfil their mutual obligations. 

People who have lost their jobs or had shifts cut will only have to apply for a reduced 4 jobs a month. 

Exemptions from these obligations are also available for certain situations. You may be eligible if you have been forced to self-isolate due to coronavirus, must care for someone who is infected, have a child whose school or childcare centre has closed, or you are caring for an adult with special needs whose day service or supported workplace has been closed. To apply for an exemption, you will have to call Centrelink. 

Summing Up 

While it may not always be easy, follow these steps to get your Jobseeker Payments as soon as possible. You will be required to continue searching for jobs during this time to maintain your payments (hopefully you will find one soon).  If you are self-employed you can still apply for Jobseeker payments with different conditions. To find out more, visit the government website, or speak to Link Advisors today.