Introduction of JobSeeker Payment: what you need to know

From 20 March 2020 JobSeeker Payment is being introduced as the main payment for working age Australians.

Seven current payments will be consolidated or stop from this date. This will be finalised by 1 January 2022.

In most cases people won’t need to do anything. We will automatically transfer them to their new payment.

Why is this happening?

The government is making payments for working age Australians simpler.

At the moment people with similar circumstances may get different payments and have different rules. These changes mean there will be one set of rules for most people.

It will also be easier when circumstances change. For example people getting JobSeeker Payment will not need to claim a new payment if they enter or exit a period of sickness or bereavement.

Which payments are impacted by the introduction of JobSeeker Payment?

  • Newstart Allowance
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow B Pension
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Widow Allowance

If you get one of these payments you will be notified about the changes.

If you currently get Newstart Allowance…

The only thing that will change is the name of your payment.

You don’t need to do anything beforehand. We’ll automatically transfer you over to JobSeeker Payment.

There will be no changes to your mutual obligation requirements, payment rate, or concession card entitlement.

The eligibility criteria for JobSeeker Payment will be the same as Newstart Allowance.

If you currently get Sickness Allowance…

You will keep getting Sickness Allowance until your medical certificate expires.

If your medical certificate expires on or after 20 March we will write to you before it expires.

If you still require income support once your certificate ends, you’ll need to book an appointment with us. The letter will explain how to do this.

At this appointment we’ll discuss what support you need.

There is more information about this on our website.

What happens to people who become temporarily sick or injured after 20 March 2020?

People who are temporarily sick or injured, and are unable to work or study, can claim JobSeeker Payment instead.

They will still get the same amount they would’ve with Sickness Allowance, and most people will be eligible for an incapacity exemption during their period of injury or illness. This means they will not need to look for work or undertake activities.

If you currently get Widow Allowance or Partner Allowance…

You don’t need to do anything. You will automatically be transferred to the Age Pension.

This will happen when you turn Age Pension age, or on 1 January 2022 – whichever is sooner.

When this happens you will get a higher rate of payment. This is because the Age Pension is paid at a higher rate than Widow Allowance and Partner Allowance.

If you currently get Widow B Pension…

You don’t need to do anything. You will automatically be transferred to the Age Pension from 20 March 2020.

If you currently get Wife Pension…

From 20 March most Wife Pensioners will automatically transfer to either Age Pension, Carer Payment, or the new JobSeeker Payment.

We sent letters out to all Wife Pensioners in September and October last year explaining how their payment will change. If you’re transferring to JobSeeker Payment, you will have gotten another letter in January.

We’ve written about the changes to Wife Pension and addressed common questions here.

There is also more information about what happens when Wife Pension stops on our website.

If you currently get Bereavement Allowance…

You won’t be impacted by the introduction of JobSeeker Payment.

You will continue to get Bereavement Allowance payment until your bereavement period ends.

Will there still be support for people whose partner dies after 20 March 2020?

There will still be support available for people if their partner dies. Our staff are here to help, and anyone in this situation should contact us. We will make sure you get the support you’re eligible for.

From 20 March people can instead claim JobSeeker Payment (or Youth Allowance, depending on their age), and be paid an additional Partner Bereavement Payment. A specialist Bereavement Assistance team will assess these claims.

Partner Bereavement Payment is a lump sum payment at the start of their bereavement period, paid along with their first fortnightly instalment of JobSeeker Payment. They will then be paid JobSeeker Payment fortnightly until the end of their bereavement period. In most cases waiting periods for JobSeeker Payment will not apply, and there will be no mutual obligation requirements during the bereavement period.