Client impact statement: COVID-19 Disaster Payment increased for extended lockdown
On 3 June 2021, the Prime Minister announced that a COVID-19 Disaster Payment would be made available for eligible individuals. Further announcements across July 2021 outlined increased support for households impacted by extended lockdowns, as well as amending some of the requirements for the payment. The payment was also made non-taxable on 29 July 2021.
The main criteria for an individual is that they are unable to work due to COVID restrictions. Services Australia has a list of recognised events that indicate the periods for which a claim can be made.
The amount paid depends on the:
• location of the health order relative to the individual’s address
• period the claim is for, and
• number of hours of work lost.
Services Australia will apply the appropriate rate for each eligible payment period.
Rate announcement date
Working hours lost per week
Between 8 – 20
20 or more
Initial rate – 3 June 2021
14 July 2021
28 July 2021
An individual that meets the criteria may receive the payment even if they are eligible on only one day of a recognised COVID-19 period of restricted movement, lockdown or hotspot. Eligible individuals that are part of a couple must make separate claims for the payment.
The payment has also been amended to be recurring for impacted individuals should the Commonwealth declared hotspot and lockdown restrictions continue, reducing the need for recipients to submit multiple claims. The “liquid assets” test has also been removed, meaning individuals with more than $10,000 in cash or shares may apply from that date.
Individuals who continue to work may also be eligible for the payment, provided they have lost more than 8 hours or a full day of work because of COVID-19 restrictions.
From 18 July 2021, the payment was also made available to those outside Commonwealth declared hotspots in NSW who otherwise meet the criteria for the payment. Similar support-matching measures have been announced for eligible Victorian and South Australian workers.
Eligibility criteria for individuals
To be eligible for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, an individual must:
• have been in paid employment immediately prior to the initial state restrictions or lockdown
• be at least 17 years of age
• be living or working, or have visited a Commonwealth declared COVID-19 hotspot or state/territory restricted movement location
• be unable to work or lost income on or after day 8 of a COVID-19 lockdown due to the restrictions
• be an Australian resident who is permitted to work in Australia
• not be receiving or eligible for other leave entitlements from their employer, namely Sick Leave, Personal Leave or another COVID related employer leave payment, and
• not be receiving other government income support or pandemic payments, including JobSeeker or Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
Commonwealth defined COVID-19 hotspot
After an initial 7-day lockdown, a region or city is considered a Commonwealth defined COVID-19 hotspot if there are at least 3 cases per day, averaged over 3 days.
The Department of Health website lists the current hotspots.
Applications and Declarations
Applications will be made by individuals through Services Australia, with Australian residents using their myGov account. Eligible working visa holders will have to contact Services Australia directly to make their claim.
Further details on the payment and key eligibility dates can be accessed on the Services Australia website.