JobSeeker Payments in Australia

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

JobSeeker Payments

June 29th, 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.

In this article, we describe the core aspects of this intervention, including expanded eligibility criteria and application procedures.

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. The size of each payment is contingent on various factors, including familial structures and the amount of income earned over the past fortnight. Current rates, which are reflected in the table below, are updated on March 20 and September 20 each year.

JobSeeker Payment Rates:

Circumstance

Maximum Fortnightly Payment

Single individual, no children

A$565.70

Single individual with dependent child(ren)

A$612.00

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

A$612.00

Partnered individual

A$510.80 each

Single principal carer without mutual obligations*

A$790.10

*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.

Eligibility for the JobSeeker Payment:

In order to receive JobSeeker Payments, applicants need to:

  • be between 22 and 66 years of age.
  • meet residence rules.
  • pass an income test.

Note that Services Australia has standard sets of income and asset limits that usually preclude some individuals from receiving JobSeeker Payments. These are reflected in the tables below.

JobSeeker Payment Income Limits:

Circumstance

Maximum Income Per Fortnight

Single individual, no children

A$1,086.50

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

A$1,673.25

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

A$2,124.75

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

A$1,164.84

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

A$1,175.17

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

A$1,673.25

Partnered individual

A$993.50 (own income) or A$3,068.80 (partner's income when the claimant's remuneration is below A$104.00 /fortnight).

Below are the asset limits which have been temporarily waived due to COVID-19. Once the waiver is lifted, these caps will apply once more.

JobSeeker Payment Asset Limits:

Circumstance

Homeowners

Non-Homeowners

Single individual

A$263,250

A473,750

Couple

A$394,500 (combined total)

A$605,000 (combined total)

One eligible partner

A$394,500 (combined total)

A$605,000 (combined total)

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 JobSeeker Payments.

Accessing the JobSeeker Payment:

Interested parties should start by registering their intention to claim the JobSeeker Payments. How they do so depends on whether they have a myGov account and how it is configured.

Here's how to register an intention to claim if you:

Don't have a myGov account:

Have a myGov account that is not linked to Medicare or the ATO:

Have a myGov account that's linked to Medicare or the ATO:

  • Sign in to your myGov account.
  • Once you've signed in, you will be prompted to register your intention to claim. Do so at your earliest convenience.
  • Sign in to your myGov account.
  • Proceed to register your intention to claim on the Welcome page.

Finalizing the Claim:

As highlighted, registering an intention to claim is the first step toward accessing JobSeeker Payments. After completing this requirement, Services Australia will contact applicants to confirm their identities, and to furnish them with a Customer Reference Number (CRN) and linking code. Current and former clients will already have a CRN: this does not change, and can thus be used during the last phase of the claims process.

Candidates should follow these steps to finalize their claims:

  1. Sign in to myGov.
  2. Navigate to "Centrelink."
  3. Click on "Payments and claims."
  4. Select "Claims."
  5. Click on "Make a claim."
  6. Select "Get started" in the applicable category.
  7. Respond to all questions.
  8. Submit the claim.

Upon submitting their claims, applicants will be given a receipt indicating that their claim was successful. Each receipt will also include an ID number, estimated completion date, and a link that can be used to track the status of the claim. The link can be used on myGov or on the Express Plus Centrelink app.

Further, applicants will be informed of the result of their claim. This can be sent electronically (to applicants' myGov inbox, Centrelink online account, or the mobile app, depending on their preference) or via mail. Unsuccessful claims can be forwarded for review.

Those who are unable to claim online can call the Job Seekers line or visit a nearby service center to receive assistance.

Mutual Obligations:

As of June 9, 2020, those who have mutual obligations must 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 the online employment services should complete the tasks that can be found on their dashboard, where possible. Moreover, recipients of the JobSeeker Payment ought to accept job interviews and/or agree to take on employment.

Finally, 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 their:

  • personal and contact information.
  • bank details.
  • relationship status.
  • work status.
  • income and assets, as well as that of your partner. This includes the receipt of lump-sum payments.
  • health; specifically, if you become injured or ill in a manner that precludes you from working or studying temporarily.
  • study arrangements, which may include alterations to your study load.
  • care arrangements for those in your care, which includes children.
  • accommodation details.
  • living arrangements, particularly if you are single and begin to share your 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 alterations should be declared using the accommodation details form, while changes to living arrangements should be reported in the relationship details form.

Recipients of JobSeeker Payments can declare these changes through myGov, the Express Plus Centrelink app, or Centrelink phone self-service.

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.

Suspensions and penalties are being waived for the time being. Be sure to keep an eye on servicesaustralia.gov.au for the latest updates.

FAQs:

How much do you get on JobSeeker Payment?

Successful applicants will receive a maximum fortnightly payment between A$565.70 and A$790.10. 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 threshold, 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 have been temporarily waived due to COVID-19.

How do I claim JobSeeker?

Start by registering your intention to claim the JobSeeker Payments. Then, proceed to finalize your claim. If needed, Services Australia will contact you to request additional information. Finally, you will be informed of the outcome of your claim. Successful applicants will receive the JobSeeker Payments 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, the Energy Supplement, and the Coronavirus 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.