JobSeeker Payments in Australia

Discover payment amounts, eligibility criteria, application procedures, and more.

JobSeeker Payment

August 19th, 2020

Various forms of support are available to Australians who are not actively engaged in full-time work, or whose businesses have been adversely impacted by factors associated with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Chief among these are the JobSeeker Payment.

What is the JobSeeker Payment?

The JobSeeker Payment is the primary form of government-issued income support for individuals who do not hold active, full-time positions of employment. Currently, the scheme also assists sole traders and other self-employed individuals whose turnover has been reduced as a consequence of COVID-19.

All JobSeeker Payments are administered by Services Australia (formerly, the Department of Human Services) on a fortnightly basis.

Eligibility for the JobSeeker Payment:

To receive JobSeeker Payments, applicants need to:

In addition to the aforementioned criteria, applicants will need to be:

  • unemployed and looking for full-time work, or
  • injured or sick and thus, unable to fulfill their usual work or study obligations for a short period of time, or
  • stood down from a permanent position, or
  • a sole trader, self-employed individual, casual worker, or contractor whose income has shrunken due to COVID-19, or
  • caring for a person affected by COVID-19.

Note that the last three of these eligibility criteria have been temporarily instituted to expand access to JobSeeker Payments following the outbreak of COVID-19. Those who are accessing benefits such as annual and/or sick leave, or Income Protection Insurance, are ineligible for the JobSeeker Payment.

The tables below reflect the income and asset limits alluded to earlier.

JobSeeker Payment Income Limits:

Circumstance

Biweekly Income Cutoff

Single individual, no children

A$1,088.50

Single individual who is the principal caregiver of their dependent child(ren)

A$1,675.25

Single individual who is the principal caregiver of their dependent child(ren) and is exempt from mutual obligations

A$2,126.75

Single individual who is not the principal caregiver of their dependent child(ren)

A$1,166.84

Single individual over 60 years who has received payments for 9 consecutive months

A$1,177.17

Single individual over 60 years who has received payments for 9 consecutive months and is the principal caregiver of their dependent child(ren)

A$1,675.25

Partnered individual whose spouse doesn't receive a pension

A$995.50 (own income)

Partnered individual with an income of less than A$106 and a spouse who doesn't receive a pension

A$3,070.80 (partner's income)

Partnered individual whose spouse receives a pension

A$1,991.00 (total income)

Below are the asset limits which have been temporarily waived due to COVID-19. These will be reinstated on September 25, 2020.

JobSeeker Payment Asset Limits:

Circumstance

Homeowners

Non-Homeowners

Single individual

A$268,000

A$482,500

Couple

A$401,500 (combined total)

A$616,000 (combined total)

One eligible partner

A$401,500 (combined total)

A$616,000 (combined total)

JobSeeker Payment Amounts:

The size of each payment is contingent on various factors, including recipients' familial structure and amount of income earned over the past fortnight. Until September 24, 2020, each payment will include a Coronavirus Supplement valued at A$550. Between September 25 and December 31, 2020, the supplement will be reduced to A$250 per fortnight. Thereafter, claimants will only receive the JobSeeker Payment.

Maximum payment amounts comprising the JobSeeker Payment and Coronavirus Supplement are included in the table below.

JobSeeker Payment Rates:

Circumstance

Maximum Biweekly Rate until September 24, 2020

Maximum Biweekly Rate from September 25, 2020

Single individual, no children

A$1,115.70 (A$565.70 JobSeeker + A$550 Supplement)

A$815.70 (A$565.70 JobSeeker + A$250 Supplement)

Single individual with dependent child(ren)

A$1,162.00 (A$612.00 JobSeeker + A$550 Supplement)

A$862.00 (A$612.00 JobSeeker + A$250 Supplement)

Single individual over 60 years who has received payments for 9 consecutive months

A$1,162.00 (A$612.00 JobSeeker + A$550 Supplement)

A$862.00 (A$612.00 JobSeeker + A$250 Supplement)

Partnered individual

A$1,060.80 per person (A$510.80 JobSeeker + A$550 Supplement)

A$760.80 per person (A$510.80 JobSeeker + A$250 Supplement)

Single principal carer without mutual obligations*

A$1,340.10 (A$790.10 JobSeeker + A$550 Supplement)

A$1,040.10 (A$790.10 JobSeeker + A$250 Supplement)

*Due to any of these reasons: foster carer; non-parent relative delivering care under a court order; member of a large family; distance learner; provider of homeschooling.

As highlighted, these are the maximum biweekly payments that individuals may qualify for. Visit servicesaustralia.gov.au to learn how income affects the size of each payout. Be sure to note the changes to be implemented on September 25, 2020.

Accessing the JobSeeker Payment:

Services Australia suggests that applicants submit their JobSeeker Payment claims online. Here's how to do so:

  • Create a myGov account, if needed. Services Australia has a step-by-step guide on how to do this.
  • Link your myGov account to Centrelink if you have not done so already. To do this, sign in to myGov, click either "Link your first service" or "Services," select "Centrelink," and then follow the prompts.
  • Sign in to your myGov account.
  • Select "Centrelink."
  • Click "Get Started" in the category titled "Looking for work."
  • Answer some pre-claim questions to determine your eligibility for the payment.
  • Start your claim.
  • Answer the questions presented to you.
  • Read through your claim and submit it when you're ready.

Note that applicants may be required to submit supporting documents or visit a local service center to complete their claim.

Those who cannot or do not want to claim online can call the Job Seekers line or visit a nearby service center to receive assistance.

Mutual Obligations:

Recipients of the JobSeeker Payment must complete various tasks and activities assigned to them to remain eligible for continued support. These are referred to as mutual obligations. All mutual obligations were suspended until June 9, 2020, owing to COVID-19. However, there have been changes since then. Most saliently:

  • A limited set of obligations was reintroduced on June 9, 2020. All individuals living in Victoria are bound by these.
  • Even more mutual obligations have been reinstated since August 4, 2020. Non-Victorian residents need to adhere to these.

Further details are outlined below.

Mutual Obligations for Job Seekers in Victoria:

As of June 9, 2020, Victorian residents who have mutual obligations should aim to honor at least one appointment with their employment services provider, whether telephonically or online. The time can be used to focus on upskilling, training, and finding gainful work.

In addition, those who are in online employment services should complete the tasks that can be found on their dashboard, where possible. Moreover, they ought to accept job interviews and/or agree to take on employment.

Finally, Victorian recipients of the JobSeeker Payments are still required to submit biweekly reports detailing their income, as well as that of their partners. Reports should also contain information about pertinent changes to circumstances that could affect their eligibility for support. Examples of applicable information include changes to:

  • personal and contact information.
  • bank details.
  • relationship status.
  • work status.
  • income and assets, as well as that of one's partner. This includes the receipt of lump-sum payments.
  • health; specifically, if one becomes injured or ill in a manner that precludes them from working or studying temporarily.
  • study arrangements, which may include alterations to one's study load.
  • care arrangements for those in one's care, which includes children.
  • accommodation details.
  • living arrangements, particularly for single individuals who begin to share their accommodation with a non-relative above the age of 16 years.
  • residence within the country.
  • gender identity (this is optional).

Note that the aforementioned changes in circumstance need to be reported within 14 days. Accommodation-related changes should be declared using the accommodation details form, while changes to living arrangements should be reported in the relationship details form.

These can be declared through myGov, the Express Plus Centrelink app, or Centrelink phone self-service.

Mutual Obligations for All Other Job Seekers:

Non-Victorian residents who have mutual obligations must:

  • Fill in the Job Seeker Snapshot form.
  • Sign a Job Plan.
  • Honor all appointments with their employment services provider, whether online or telephonic.
  • Complete the tasks on their online employment services dashboard in instances where they don't have an employment services provider.
  • Complete all other tasks outlined in their Job Plan when it is safe to do so. This includes searching for work.
  • Accept opportunities to conduct suitable, gainful work.

Like Victorian residents, these individuals must submit an income report on a biweekly basis or as otherwise directed. Non-Victorian residents must also report pertinent changes to their circumstances within 14 days.

Note that principal carers and individuals aged 55 and older may have different mutual obligations. Individuals who are classed in these categories should check Services Australia's website on a regular basis.

Also note that Services Australia grants exemptions from mutual obligations in exceptional circumstances. Examples include crises such as the loss of a loved one, domestic violence, or becoming homeless; disasters at home, such as a fire or flood; sickness or injury; and short-term caring responsibilities. Exemptions can be requested telephonically.

As highlighted, guidelines related to the JobSeeker Payment have been undergoing regular change. Recipients and other interested individuals should look out for updates online.

FAQs:

How much do you get on JobSeeker Payment?

Including the Coronavirus Supplement, successful applicants will receive a maximum fortnightly payment ranging from A$1,060.80 to A$1,340.10 until September 24, 2020. As of September 25, 2020, maximum rates will decrease to between A$760.80 and A$1,040.10. The precise amount is contingent on individual factors such as familial structure and the amount of income earned during the preceding fortnight.

Can you get JobKeeper and JobSeeker?

It depends. JobKeeper Payments are regarded as income and should be declared accordingly. If this (and any other forms of income) is below the relevant income and asset thresholds, you will be eligible for the JobSeeker Payment. Note that other terms and conditions apply.

Is the JobSeeker Payment means-tested?

Yes. There are income caps that vary depending on family circumstances. The asset limits will be reinstated on September 25, 2020.

How do I claim JobSeeker?

You can apply online, telephonically, or at a nearby service center. Services Australia recommends that eligible applicants submit their claims online, where feasible. Successful individuals will receive the JobSeeker Payment via bank transfer every fortnight.

What other support is available to recipients of the JobSeeker Payments?

Those who receive the JobSeeker Payment may also be eligible for other government support, including Rent Assistance and the Energy Supplement. Interested parties should contact Services Australia for further information about these interventions, as well as others for which they could be eligible.

What is the difference between the JobSeeker Payment and the JobKeeper Payment?

The JobSeeker Payment is primarily designed to support those who are unemployed and searching for full-time work, as well as those who are sick or injured and thus, unable to fulfill their work or study obligations in the short-term. However, following the outbreak of COVID-19, eligibility criteria have been expanded to include individuals who have been stood down, those who are caring for someone affected by COVID-19, as well as certain individuals whose turnover has been reduced due to COVID-19. The JobKeeper Payment, by contrast, is a wage subsidy intended to help employers retain their staff. However, it can also be accessed by non-employing individuals whose turnover has shrunken due to COVID-19.