COVID-19 Disaster Payment: Increase to payment rates

The Australian Government has announced further changes to the COVID-19 Disaster Payment.

From Monday 2 August 2021:

  • the lower rate will increase to $450 a week (from $375 a week) for people who have lost between 8 and less than 20 hours of work, or one full day of work.
  • the upper rate will increase to $750 a week (from $600 a week) for people who have lost 20 or more hours.

What is COVID-19 Disaster Payment?

COVID-19 Disaster payment is available to people affected by a COVID-19 state public health order who have lost hours of work.

The payment supports people who are impacted by extended weekly periods of lockdown, hotspots, and movement restrictions. It is paid weekly.

People in New South Wales can claim the COVID-19 Disaster Payment under one of three different locations:

  • Parts of Sydney
  • Greater Sydney
  • All other areas of NSW.

This depends on where people live, work or visited. These locations are subject to different claiming, eligibility period dates, and payment dates.

When does the new rate take effect?

The increased rates will apply from Monday 2 August onwards. The date people are paid the increased amount will relate to the area they have claimed for. For instance, people who have claimed for Parts of Sydney will receive their increase from Thursday 5 August.

This will apply for people claiming for the first time and people getting their next recurring payment. People claiming retrospectively for a previous eligibility period, will receive the appropriate payment rate for that point in time.

Who is eligible for COVID-19 Disaster Payment?

To be eligible for COVID-19 Disaster Payment, people must:

  • Be 17 years or older and an Australian resident, or an eligible visa holder with the right to work in Australia,
  • Have lost income on or after day 8 of a state public health order, and don’t have any pandemic-related paid leave entitlements.

People can’t claim COVID-19 Disaster Payment if they’re getting:

  • Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment,
  • a state or territory pandemic payment, or
  • a state small business payment for the same period.

Automatic recurring payments

The COVID-19 Disaster Payment has been paid recurringly since 15 July. Anyone who has claimed the payment since this date will get a recurring payment automatically for each subsequent week of lockdown.

This means they don’t have to apply again for each week of lockdown.

This recurring payment will be in people’s bank accounts within 7 days of the start of each new period.

People don’t need to call us to check on their next payment, unless it’s been longer than 7 days.

People don’t need to use annual leave first

People are not required to use other leave entitlements before claiming COVID-19 Disaster Payment.

This includes:

  • annual leave
  • unpaid leave
  • sick/personal leave
  • carer’s leave
  • long service leave
  • compassionate leave.

People who choose to take paid leave for the duration of a lockdown period will be considered as receiving income. This means they won’t be eligible for the payment.

People may still be eligible if they have taken leave for part of a lockdown period, but have also lost the required work hours and meet the eligibility criteria.

For example, if a person took sick leave on day 1 and 2 of a lockdown period, then lost work for the following 2 days, they may be eligible for the payment. The rate would be determined by the hours lost.

People with any pandemic-related paid leave entitlements must use these before they can get the COVID-19 Disaster Payment.

What to consider before claiming

People need to check their eligibility for COVID-19 Disaster Payment by reading through the information on our website.

Business owners, including sole traders should also consider all the types of support available, to determine what will better fit their needs. This includes the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, or a NSW business payment. They won’t be able to receive both payments for the same period of time.

People need to have all the required documentation ready to support a claim.

What do people need to support their claim?

For people new to Centrelink, they’ll need to prove their identity online in myGov. They can do this by providing the details of 2 acceptable identity documents and some other personal details. This can include:

  • Australian birth certificate
  • Driver’s licence
  • Medicare card.

For people who already have a Centrelink Reference Number (CRN), they’ll need:

  • their employer’s ABN
  • details about hours of work lost.  

For people who have lost or forgotten their CRN, they can find it by following the prompts in myGov to prove your identity online.

How to claim COVID-19 Disaster Payment

Australian residents must claim the COVID-19 Disaster Payment online using myGov, by linking Centrelink to their myGov account. People who have received a Centrelink payment before can use their Centrelink Reference Number (CRN) from previous letters or concession cards to link Centrelink to myGov.

Eligible visa holders need to call the Emergency Information line on 180 22 66 to claim COVID-19 Disaster Payment. This phone line is open 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and temporarily open 9am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.

We have staff who can provide support in different languages for those who need it.

Once a claim has been finalised, people will be paid within 7 days. Most people are paid within 1 business day.

As with any emergency response of this scale, we are experiencing a high volume of calls to our Emergency Information line. We remind people to claim COVID-19 Disaster Payment on myGov, where possible.

Changes of circumstances

People are reminded to let us know about any changes to their circumstances so we can check if they’re still eligible. This can include changes to their work hours, employer, or if they start getting another payment type, such as Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.

For people who claim through myGov, they need to do this through their Centrelink online account, using the Change of Circumstances icon. They can also use this to stop their automatic payments. People who claim over the phone, including visa holders, will need to call us on the Emergency Information line -180 22 66 – to notify us of any changes to their circumstances.

More information

  • Read more about COVID-19 Disaster Payment on our website.