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Parliament House, Canberra

COVID-19 Changes: The eligibility rules for Centrelink payments have changed temporarily due to the pandemic.

For more information see COVID-19 changes: Government Assistance

What is Centrelink?

Centrelink is part of the Australian Government Services Australia and delivers a range of social security payments and services to the community. This includes financial assistance for people who are unemployed, sick, have a disability, or are in crisis, and support for families and older Australians.

What types of payments are available?

Centrelink provides a range of payments and services for families, older Australians, people with a disability, carers, people who are unemployed or on a low income, youth and students, farmers, and people in crisis.

If you lose your job or your hours are reduced

It is important to contact Centrelink and claim a payment as soon as you lose your job or your work hours are reduced by your employer. This is to ensure you receive payments as soon as you are eligible.

  • You can contact the Centrelink by phone, in person or online using your MyGov account.
  • To find your nearest Centrelink office click here.
  • For the phone number for a particular service click here.

Waiting periods

You may have to wait before your Centrelink payment starts. Centrelink calculates the waiting period that applies when they assess your claim.

The time you need to wait depends on:

  • the type of payment you are claiming;
  • how much money you have; and
  • the reasons you don’t have a job, or your work hours are reduced.

There are different waiting periods that may apply. Some of waiting periods that may apply include:

The ordinary waiting period of one week may apply when you lodge a claim for:

  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Youth Allowance for job seekers
  • Parenting Payment

Some people will have a one-week ordinary waiting period while others may have to wait longer.

The liquid assets waiting period is between 1 and 13 weeks. The term ‘’liquid assets’’ refers to cash or other assets such as shares that can be readily converted to cash. This includes money your employer owes you. This waiting period starts to apply if you have liquid assets equal to or more than either:

  • $5,500 if you are single and have no dependants
  • $11,000 if you have a partner or you are single with dependants
  • The table showing the number of weeks you may need to wait based on your liquid assets can be found here.

The income maintenance waiting period may apply if you have lost your job and your employer paid you a lump sum for unused sick leave, annual leave, long service leave or a termination or redundancy payout. Centrelink will treat these as income in advance and it will change the starting date for the Centrelink payment you are claiming.

  • For example: a lump sum termination payment equivalent to 10 weeks of normal pay may result in a 10 week income maintenance waiting period.
  • If you are experiencing severe financial hardship, Centrelink may waive or reduce this waiting period. But you will need to let them know and provide proof.

To find out more about Centrelink waiting periods and the number of weeks you may need to wait before receiving a payment see Services Australia – Waiting Periods.

Information about other services

A Financial Information Service (FIS) officer at Centrelink can help you understand how your Centrelink income will be affected if you receive a redundancy payment or a superannuation payment, or are planning to sell an asset, for example. They may also be able to advise on the tax implications. You can get further information on the free financial information service and contact details here.

Rent assistance: Centrelink will provide rent assistance in certain circumstances to check if you are eligible at Centrelink rent assistance eligibility and payment rates.

Family Tax Benefit: A two-part payment that helps with the cost of raising children. You must meet an income test and have dependent children. You can check your eligibility here.

Centrepay: A free service that allows you to set up automatic payments from your Centrelink income for regular bills such as rent, gas, electricity and water. Paying your bills in fortnightly instalments may make life more manageable. For more information see Centrelink centrepay.

Advance payment: You may be able to get part of your income support in advance. You then repay the amount in fortnightly instalments from your Centrelink income. You can check your eligibility here.

Health-care and concession cards: Various cards give cardholders discounts on health, transport and education expenses. For further information see concession and health care cards.