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$550 vs $750 vs $1,500: Which coronavirus cash payment do I get?

(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)
  • If you’ve been stood down, you may be eligible for the $1,500-a-fortnight wage subsidy

  • If you were already on JobSeeker payments, you’ll get an extra $550 a fortnight

  • Those on pensions, youth allowance, concession cards and other welfare benefits get the one-off $750

The Morrison government has introduced three different cash stimulus payments aimed at Australians and businesses who have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

If you’re confused about which one is relevant for you, you’re not alone.

Yahoo Finance breaks down the JobSeeker payment, the $550 fortnightly Coronavirus Supplement, the one-off $750 Economic Support payment and the JobKeeper wage subsidy of $1,500 a fortnight.

JobSeeker payment (previously Newstart)

The JobSeeker payment replaced the Newstart Allowance on 20 March 2020 and is the main income support payment for those aged between 22 and pension age for those looking for work, or are injured or sick and can’t work or study for a short period of time.

If you were getting Newstart Allowance, you’ve now moved on to JobSeeker payments.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: People are seen lining up at Centrelink in Bondi Junction on March 23, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. From midday Monday, venues such as bars, clubs, nightclubs, cinemas, gyms and restaurants, along with anywhere people remain static would be closed. Schools remain open but parents have the option to keep children at home if they wish while Victoria is bringing forward school holidays from Tuesday. There are now 1353 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and the death toll now stands at seven. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)
People are seen lining up at Centrelink in Bondi Junction on March 23, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

The JobSeeker payment amounts to $565.70 per fortnight for single individuals with no children and stretches up to $790.10 for single principle carers who are foster caring, home schooling, doing distance education, have large families or are a non-parent relative caring under a court order.

The assets test and the waiting period have both been waived, but new applicants for the supplement will still have to pass the income test.

On Monday 30 March, Scott Morrison announced that the partner income test has been increased from about $48,000 to $79,762, meaning more Australians will be able to receive welfare support.

Coronavirus Supplement: $550 a fortnight

The $550 Coronavirus Supplement was announced as part of the government’s second stimulus package.

Those who get JobSeeker, as well as certain other welfare payments, are automatically eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement of $550 a fortnight on top of their typical payments. The payments will start from April 27th and will last six months.

You’ll get the Coronavirus Supplement if you already receive the following:

  • JobSeeker Payment;

  • Sickness Allowance;

  • Youth Allowance for jobseekers;

  • Parenting Payment Partnered;

  • Parenting Payment Single;

  • Partner Allowance;

  • Sickness Allowance;

  • Farm Household Allowance;

  • Special Benefits recipients;

  • Youth Allowance;

  • Widow Allowance;

  • Wife Pension;

  • Austudy; and

  • Abstudy.

People already receiving the above payments will see the $550 automatically added on top of their usual payment.

If you’re one of the following, you’re eligible for the supplement too, but you’ll have to apply for it:

  • Sole traders or self-employed;

  • Contract workers who meet the income test; or

  • People caring for someone infected or isolated as a result of the virus.

Economic Supplement: one-off $750 payment

This $750 is an additional one-off payment which was announced as part of the Morrison government’s first stimulus package. Anyone on welfare will receive this one-off cash handout.

You’ll get this if you receive one of the following benefits or use the following concession cards:

  • Age Pension

  • Disability Support Pension

  • Carer Payment

  • Carer Allowance

  • Parenting Payment

  • Wife Pension

  • Widow B Pension

  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)

  • Austudy

  • Bereavement Allowance

  • Newstart Allowance (now JobSeeker payment)

  • Youth Allowance

  • Partner Allowance

  • Sickness Allowance

  • Special Benefit

  • Widow Allowance

  • Farm Household Allowance

  • Family Tax Benefit A

  • Family Tax Benefit B

  • Double Orphan Pension

  • Pensioner Concession Card

  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

  • Veteran Gold Card.

  • Veteran Service Pension

  • Veteran Income Support Supplement

  • Veteran Compensation payments, including lump sum payments

  • War Widow(er) Pension.

Millions of Australians have already received their one-off $750 payments, and some will also be eligible for a second one-off $750 payment from 13 July.

However, since the federal government has now introduced the $550 Coronavirus Supplement payments, some won’t be eligible for the second $750 payment.

That is, if you are receiving JobSeeker payments (formerly Newstart), it means you get the first $750 payment and then the $550 a fortnight Coronavirus Supplement payment thereafter. You won’t get the second $750 payment as you’re now eligible for the fortnightly Coronavirus Supplement.

Here’s what that looks like:

(Source: Australian Treasury: 'Payments to support households' Fact sheet)
(Source: Australian Treasury: 'Payments to support households' Fact sheet)

JobKeeper payment: $1,500 a fortnight

The JobKeeper payment is a wage subsidy announced as part of the government’s third stimulus package and designed to encourage businesses to hang onto their workers instead of laying them off.

Small and medium-sized businesses, not-for-profits and sole traders whose business turnover has fallen by 30 per cent or more can apply to the Australian Taxation Office to receive $1,500 a fortnight per worker in lieu of paying employee wages.

Companies turning over more than $1 billion profit will have to see a hit of 50 per cent or more to be eligible. The Big Four Banks as well as Macquarie bank are exempt from the scheme.

The subsidy is available to full-time workers, part-time workers and sole traders who were on their employer’s books as of 1 March this year.

Only casuals who have been with their employer for 12 months or more will be eligible for this payment. The JobKeeper payment will also be available to New Zealanders on a 444 visa.

Workers will receive the payment through their employers, and so far more than 370,000 businesses have already applied for the subsidy.

Payments to employers will start flowing through from May, but employers can make the payments to workers from now if they choose to – the government will backdate payments from 30 March.

The scheme will run for six months. Employers will get a flat payment of at least $1,500 per fortnight.

So it’s good news if you were earning less than this to begin with. Employees whose regular wages are more than $1,500 a fortnight will see $1,500 paid by the government, and then have their employers top up the excess so they receive their regular wage.

Even if you were stood down by your employer between 1 March and now, and you fit the criteria, you could now be eligible for the JobKeeper payment instead of the $550 Coronavirus Supplement.

Your employer will tell you if you’re eligible for this payment. If you’re unsure, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested you call your boss.

You won’t be able to claim both the JobSeeker payment as well as the JobKeeper payment. Workers may want to claim the JobKeeper over the JobSeeker as the JobKeeper provides at least $1,500 a fortnight, where JobSeeker and the Coronavirus Supplement combined come to $1115.70.

Who misses out on the coronavirus payments?

Though millions of Australians will benefit from the cash payments, there are many others who will miss out.

Casual workers who haven’t been employed with their current employer for 12 months – nearly a million people – won’t get the $1,500 wage subsidy.

Women also cop a heavier hit as more women are in casual roles, and 1.7 million visa workers will miss out on the payment.

Casual teachers are also ineligible for the $1,500 replacement wage as schools generally don’t record revenue.

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