If you have been personally impacted by lockdowns and the related restrictions, there are now two COVID-19 payments accessible to individuals: the COVID-19 Disaster Payment; and, the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
Here we’ll provide you with some details about each and the eligibility criteria.
How to apply for support
You can apply for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment or the top-up income support payment through your MyGov account if you have created and linked a Centrelink account. Apply for the Pandemic Leave Payment by phoning Services Australia on 180 22 66.
COVID-19 Disaster Payments
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment is a weekly payment available to eligible workers who can’t attend work or who have lost income because of a lockdown and don’t have access to certain paid leave entitlements. If you are a couple, both people can separately claim the payment.
Sole traders may apply for COVID-19 Disaster Payment if you are unable to operate your business from home. However, you will not be eligible if you are also receiving a state business grant such as the NSW 2021 COVID-19 Business Grant or JobSaver.
Timing of the payment
The disaster payment is generally accessible if the hotspot triggering the lockdown lasts more than 7 days as declared by the Chief Medical Officer (you can find the listing here). From 2 August 2021, payments will apply from day one of the lockdown and will be paid in arrears once claims open (previously, the payment only applied from day 8 of a lockdown).
However, the disaster payment will also be available:
- In NSW from 18 July 2021, to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria. The requirement to be in a Commonwealth declared hotspot has been removed and the payment will apply to anyone in NSW impacted by the lockdowns who meets the other eligibility criteria.
How much is the payment?
The COVID-19 disaster payment amount available depends on:
- How many hours of work you have lost in the week, and
- If the payment is on or after the third period of the lockdown.
|Hours of work lost|
|Disaster payment amounts||Between 8 and 20 (or a full day of work)||20 or more|
|Weeks 2 and 3 of a lockdown*||$325||$500|
|From week 4 of a lockdown onwards||$375||$600|
|From 2 August 2021**||$450||$750|
** These higher rates will apply from day one of any potential lockdown in the future
The COVID-19 disaster payment is emergency relief. It is available if you:
- Live or work in an area that is subject to a state or territory public health order that imposes restriction on movement and is declared a Commonwealth COVID-19 hotspot, or
- Have visited an area that is a Commonwealth COVID-19 hotspot and you are subsequently subject to a restricted movement order when you return to other parts of New South Wales or interstate.
- Are an Australian citizen, permanent resident or temporary visa holder who has the right to work in Australia, and
- Are aged 17 years or over, and
- Have lost 8 hours or more of work or a full day of your usual work as a result of the restrictions – losing work includes being stood down by your employer, not being assigned any shifts for the week of restrictions and being unable to work from home. Losing a full day of what you were scheduled to work but could not work because of a restricted movement order includes not being able to attend a full-time, part-time or casual shift of less than 8 hours, and
- Don’t have paid pandemic-related leave available through your employer (annual leave is not taken into account for this), and
- Are not receiving income support payments, a state or territory pandemic payment, Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment or state small business payment for the same period. See ‘Top up’ payments for those on income support below. Income support payments include Age Pension, Austudy, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Farm Household Allowance, JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment, Partner Allowance, Special Benefit, Widow Allowance, Youth Allowance and Income Support Supplement, Service Pension or Veteran Pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
A liquid assets test of $10,000 was previously applied to the disaster payment but was removed from Thursday, 8 July 2021.
The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is for those who have been advised by their relevant health authority to self-isolate or quarantine because they:
- Test positive to COVID-19;
- Have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case;
- Care for a child, 16 years or under, who has COVID-19; or
- Care for a child, 16 years or under, who has been identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case; or
- Care for a person who has tested positive to COVID-19.
How much is the payment?
The payment is $1,500 for each 14 day period you are advised to self-isolate or quarantine. If you are a couple, you both can claim this payment if you meet the eligibility criteria.
The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is available if you:
- Are an Australian citizen, permanent resident or temporary visa holder who has the right to work in Australia; and
- Are aged 17 years or over; and
- Are unable to go to work and earn an income; and
- Do not have appropriate leave entitlements, including pandemic sick leave, personal leave or carers leave; and
- Are not getting any income support payment, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Paid parental leave or Dad and Partner Pay. Income support payments include Age Pension, Austudy, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Farm Household Allowance, JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment, Partner Allowance, Special Benefit, Widow Allowance, Youth Allowance and Income Support Supplement, Service Pension or Veteran Pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
The payment is taxable and you will need to declare it in your income tax return.
If you are uncertain of your eligibility, talk to Services Australia.