You’ve been stood down by your boss. He has assured he wants you back. But times are tough – he can’t pay you. Here’s what you need to do without delay:
If you have no income, you can find your closest service on the Department of Social Services website at dss.gov.au. The MyGov website is another great place to start. First-time Centrelink claimants need a customer reference number – there will be a wait, but you can call and get a number or get it online. You will need ID. Don’t despair. Centrelink is updating processes to make claiming benefits simpler. The National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 can help with advice and details.
Here are some tips courtesy of the National Debt Hotline:
- You need to lodge a claim online.
- If this is your first time claiming Centrelink you can lodge an intent to claim online. You can also call Centrelink to get:
- a linking code to link Centrelink to MyGov and
- a Centrelink Customer Reference Number and
- Provide identification online
- You will need an employment separation certificate if you are now unemployed. After 27 April 2020, this requirement will be temporarily suspended.
- You need bank account statements for the last three months.
Deal with debt
Contact your creditors as soon as possible. Most of the big four banks, credit card and car companies have hardship measures in place for people who are unable to meet their loan repayments because of coronavirus.
These include a freeze on interest, a temporary deferral of mortgage repayments of three to six months, waiving fees, giving you more time to pay and introducing a more flexible way of repayments. Please note the Government has announced a plan to make a six-month change to the rules for making a person bankrupt.
Keeping the lights on
If you can’t pay your utility bills because of the current pandemic, contact your provider as many energy companies have put in place some financial hardship program.
For instance, Origin Energy has temporarily suspended energy disconnections for customers who have not paid their bills. Origin has also introduced payment extensions and will tailor-make payments for struggling customers.
AGL has also put some hardship measures in place – just get in touch with them as soon as possible and work out a more affordable plan that suits your circumstances.
EnergyAustralia will also offer a payment extension and rework a plan to cover debt and energy fees over 12 months.
Keeping a roof over your head
the Government is tasking rent measures to Cabinet tomorrow, so watch out for stories. Many states have stopped evictions and most say landlords should be accomodating to tenants in distress. If you are struggling and need support check what councilling services are available.
A number of the banks have announced assistance for people with home loans, including deferring mortgage loan payments, sometimes for up to six months. They are being accomodating so please call early and tell them about your position. The interest on your loan, however, will keep being added, so this means that the loan term will be extended.
Super to the rescue
The government is allowing early access to superannuation for an amount up to $10,000 before 1 July 2020, and a further amount up to $10,000 after 1 July 2020. You will have about three months from 1 July to apply for this second payment. No tax is payable on the withdrawals and the money withdrawn will not impact Centrelink or Veteran’s Affairs payments.
To do this, you need to be:
- unemployed; or
- eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
- Made redundant on or after 1 January 2020, or your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more; or if you are a sole trader — your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more. Apply to the ATO through MyGov from mid- April 2020. You will need evidence you meet the eligibility criteria.
Get Government help
If eligible, you should apply for a JobSeeker Payment – it applies to permanent and stood down or sacked, a sole trade, casual worker or contract workers of self employed who now earns less than $1,075 a fortnight. According to government website, moneysmart.gov.au, you are eligible to receive income support payments of a temporary $550 coronavirus supplement paid every fortnight from 27 April. This will be paid to existing and new recipients of JobSeeker payment.
Worry free Wi Fi
Contact your internet provider regarding payment of your bills. For instance, Telstra has stopped late fees and disconnections for customers who cannot pay their bills. Optus has also waived late payment fees until April 30 and suspended disconnection charges until April 30. Vodafone will also not charge late payment fees and suspension of services until after 30 April.