How to apply for Jobseeker Payment (formerly Newstart Allowance)

Posted On March 24, 2020

As noted in the Government’s latest Stimulus package the regulations around applying and qualifying for the Jobseeker Payment (and the associated additional Coronavirus supplement payment) have been eased. We have all seen the images of the huge lines of people queueing outside Centrelink offices as they try to register for this benefit.

Here is a Step-by-step guide to take you through this process.

The first thing to know is the process probably won’t be easy and it will likely get frustrating. And there may be some hiccups (or major malfunctions) in the system along the way.

We would also suggest that you don’t ring the hotline, don’t go into a service centre, try to do as much as you can online.

Step one:

Go online and log in to your existing MyGov account or create a new one.

Step two:

Create a Centrelink account.

If you’ve ever received Centrelink payments in the past, including as a young person or while studying, you may already have one. If so, jump to step three.

If you don’t have an online Centrelink account, but you’ve received payments in the past, try to track down any old concession cards, letters or emails from Centrelink to find your Customer Reference Number (CRN) or Customer Access Number (CAN).

If you can’t find this information, you can call Centrelink and they’ll ask you some questions to get your CRN.

And yes, we know, that’s easier said than done. You may be on hold for a long time.

If you’ve never received money from Centrelink, you’ll need to set up an account for the first time.

This normally involves proving your identity by showing three original documents to prove your identity to Centrelink (they do not accept certified copies).

This is usually done in person at a service centre, but importantly that has now changed.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said on Tuesday you can now ring up Centrelink and identify yourself over the phone.

“You are no longer required to attend a Centrelink site to provide proof of identity,” Ms Ruston said.

“We’ll take your word for it, understanding these are exceptional circumstances.

“We don’t want people attending Centrelink sites in person.”

Centrelink staff will then give you a validation over the phone, meaning you can go online and register through MyGov without the need to provide proof of identity documents in person.

Step three:

Log in to your MyGov account and ‘link’ it to your Centrelink account. Once this is done, you’ll be able to log into the MyGov portal and click through to your Centrelink account.

Step four:

If you’re still working but there’s a reduction in your hours, you’ll need a letter from your employer confirming this.

In the past when someone lost their job, they needed to fill in an employment separation certificate for every employer they’d worked for in the past 12 months — but this requirement will be waived from April 27.

You will need to upload other documents throughout the claims process, but we’re not going to tell you which ones because everyone’s circumstances are different.

You’ll find out which ones you need as you complete your claim.

But from April 27, Centrelink will also waive the requirement to provide proof of rental arrangements or verification of relationship status.

Step five:

It’s time to make a claim.

If you’re super organised, now is the time to get out that important documents folder you keep in the study and smugly pat yourself on the back.

Or, if you’re a normal person, mentally prepare to spend the next few hours digging through drawers searching for paperwork.

Log in to MyGov and go to Centrelink.

Select Payments and Claims from the menu, then Claims, then Make a claim.

Choose the category that best describes your circumstance and click Get started.

You’ll have to submit any required documents online now, but you’ll have 14 days to submit any supplementary documents.

Step six:

As part of the claim, you’ll need to book a phone appointment. Some people have reported problems with the website at this point (among others).

You’ll need to make a note of your appointment time and make sure your phone is with you.

They’ll call from a private number. Answer it!

Step seven:

Wait. Centrelink will let you know if your claim has been approved.

If it is, they’ll tell you when you need to report.

This may come through your MyGov inbox or the Express Plus Centrelink app (if you’ve downloaded it) or by post.

Reporting just means letting Centrelink know how much money you earned over the past 14 days and confirming you’ve stuck to the mutual obligations laid out in your job plan.

You’ll have to report every two weeks.

If you don’t report, you won’t get paid. If you’re late reporting, your payment will be late.

You can report online or over the phone.