Coronavirus: what are your financial support options?

The coronavirus crisis has far reaching impacts. Here, we discuss government financial support options to help ease the burden many are facing.

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S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) stocks are down. Market uncertainty abounds. Some businesses are closing or suspending their services. Money is tight.

Given these circumstances, what are people’s options who find themselves out of work or having hours reduced?

First, it is important to know that if you are experiencing financial hardship, there is support available to help you during the coronavirus pandemic. The government is announcing new measures to support workers, businesses, and families almost daily.

To read the latest information about these measures, you can visit the Treasury’s dedicated coronavirus page.

We’ve pulled out some of the key points below.

Extra income support payments

There will be a temporary fortnightly $550 coronavirus supplement for eligible people, which is on top of any other income support payments that you are already entitled to. However, this $550 fortnightly payment doesn’t begin until 27 April 2020.

There will also be a crisis payment if you are required to self-isolate, are in severe financial hardship, and you cannot receive an income support payment.

Additionally, income support eligibility will be expanded and applications made easier to claim.

For example, you will be eligible for government financial assistance if you are a permanent employee who has been stood down or lost your job; a sole trader, self-employed, a casual or contract worker whose income has reduced; or if you are caring for someone who is affected by the coronavirus.

It is important to note that from 20 March 2020, the JobSeeker Payment has replaced the Newstart Allowance as the main income support payment for recipients aged between 22 years to Age Pension qualification age who have capacity to work.

For more information on income support, please check out Treasury’s fact sheet on income support for individuals

Household support payments

Services Australia (formerly the Department of Human Services) also reports that if you receive an eligible payment on any day from 12 March to 13 April, you will automatically receive a $750 Economic Support Payment. This $750 payment will roll out from the 31 March 2020 with ‘most getting it by 17 April 2020.’

According to the Treasury, around half of those that benefit are pensioners. Further, the first payment will be made out to approximately 6.6 million social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

There will be a second $750 payment from 13 July 2020 if you receive an eligible payment or have an eligible concession card on 10 July 2020.   

The Economic Support Payment is tax exempt.

For more information, you can visit Services Australia’s page detailing the financial support measures for those affected by the coronavirus.

For information specifically about the first $750 Economic Support Payment, see this Services Australia page

You can also check the Treasury’s fact sheet on payments to support households.  

Access up to $20,000 from your super

If you are suffering financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 fallout, you may be able to access up to $10,000 of your super in 2019–20 from mid-April. You can then re-apply to access a further $10,000 from your super in 2020–21.

You can apply for an early release of your super from mid-April by using the myGov website.

According to the Treasury, you “will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money [you] withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.”

For more detailed information and eligibility criteria, you can check out the following Treasury fact sheet on early access to superannuation.

Financial support from states and territories

Each Australian state or territory will also have additional support measures in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

For example, if you are in Victoria you can check out the Victorian Premier’s Emergency Relief Packages page for further information.

For NSW, the following Services NSW page lists more than 70 rebates and savings the NSW Government is offering to ease the cost of living during the coronavirus.

Foolish takeaway

No one will remain unaffected by the coronavirus. Everyone’s daily lives have changed. From social distancing and movement restrictions to business closures and suspensions, every Australian feels the impact of the virus and its health and financial repercussions.

Yet we are all in this together and Motley Fool Australia will always strive to provide the best information and analysis in these challenging times.

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