As more and more Aussies turn to Centrelink during the coronavirus pandemic, the system remains pretty tricky to navigate.

You had questions, we had answers, then you had more questions, so we had even more answers. Now were back at it, answering your questions once again to help you get what you’re entitled to.

Here’s everything you need to know about what you’re eligible for, when the money will come in, and how to get a goddamn CRN.

Also be sure to check our past instalments for previously-answered questions:

  1. Here’s The TL;DR On What Payments You’re Eligible For If COVID-19 Leaves You Out Of Work
  2. Answered: All Your Burning Questions About Accessing Centrelink’s Coronavirus Payments
  3. You Had More Questions, So We Have More Answers About Centrelink’s Coronavirus Payments

When does the Centrelink money come in?

If you’re on the Youth Allowance, Newstart, Austudy or similar, the $550 coronavirus supplement will be included in your fortnightly payments starting on April 27. You can see a full list of who is eligible for the $550 fortnightly payment here.

Most Centrelink recipients will also receive a one-off payment of $750 from March 31. Centrelink reckons most will receive the cash by April 17, and some people may also receive a second payment of $750 in July. You can see a full list of who is eligible for the payment here.

How do I get a CRN?

First things first: you do not need a CRN to lodge your intent to claim. Do this first on MyGov so that your payments will be backdated to that day.

Now, after you’ve lodged your intent to claim, you will need to get a CRN in order for your claim to be processed. In the past, this involved physically going into a Centrelink service centre and showing ID. Because of the coronavirus, this has been scrapped.

Now all you need to do is state your identity over the phone, but this is of course easier said than done. After you’ve lodged your intent to claim, you should call Centrelink’s online accounts hotline on 132 307. It operates between 7 AM-10 PM from Monday to Friday, and between 10 AM-5 PM on weekends and public holidays.

Because of the huge influx of new customers, expect to be put on hold for ages. There’s nothing wrong with your claim, the system is just overwhelmed.

I’ve lodged my intent to claim but haven’t heard back yet. When will Centrelink contact me?

The official line from Centrelink is that you should wait for them to contact you. We know that many hundreds of thousands of Aussies have already lodged their intent to claim, so there’s a pretty massive backlog to work through.

If you think something has gone wrong in the process, you can in theory ring Centrelink at the relevant phone number. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to get through as the phone are totally backed up at the moment.

If you lodged your intent to claim before today, your payments will be backdated to March 23. This is the Centrelink’s way of compensating for the fact MyGov had been down for many days. If you lodged after today, your payments will be backdated to the day you lodged. This gives you some breathing room to supply the info you need, and for Centrelink to work through the massive influx of new claims.

The best thing to do in most cases is to just wait.

Centrelink is still asking for documents. Didn’t they waive these requirements?

After a rough start, Centrelink did axe means testing and other requirements during the coronavirus pandemic.

Centrelink applicants now no longer need to provide a bank statement, Employment Separation Certificate or proof of rental arrangement.

If MyGov is forcing you to supply these documents and won’t let you progress your claim otherwise, you’re in a pickle. Normally, your best bet would be to call Centrelink, but that’s not really possible at this time.

You may have luck starting your claim over from scratch. Just be sure you’ve already lodged your intent to claim so that the payments are backdated.

Will my partner’s income or existing Centrelink payments affect my eligibility?

The government has already announced that it intends to make changes to means testing, so that your partner’s income won’t disqualify you from claiming Centrelink payment if you’ve lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic. While this has not been finalised yet, it is expected to be set at around $70,000.

If you or your partner also receive Centrelink payments such as the Family Tax Benefit, you will still be able to claim new payments such as the Jobseeker Payment (formerly known as Newstart) during the coronavirus pandemic. This isn’t new, as many payments are not mutually-exclusive.

The only way existing payments can affect your eligibility during the coronavirus pandemic is that you will be entitled to additional payments. For example, people who receive the Family Tax Benefit will automatically get the $750 Economic Support Payment sometime in April.

I haven’t lost my job but my shifts have been reduced. Am I entitled to anything?

Yes!

As we’ve covered in the past, the claims process has been simplified so that most people earning less than $1,075 a fortnight will be eligible for some kind of payment. If you’re technically still employed, that’s fine – you no longer need to provide an Employment Separation Certificate anyway.

I’m crashing at a mate’s place with no fixed address. Can I still claim?

The address you provide to Centrelink is not super important. Although you might not have a fixed address, your bank account should still have one listed already.

The government has waived the need to supply proof of rental arrangement, which means people informally paying rent to a mate or relative have been spared of an additional hurdle. During the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t matter what your rent expenses are in order to make a claim.

In terms of receiving important info, remember that most letters are sent via MyGov nowadays.

Are new claims being fast-tracked?

Yes and no.

It’s true that waiting times have been cut. Previously, if you had over $5,500 in funds as an individual or over $11,000 as a couple, you’d have to wait between one and 13 weeks before your claim was processed. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this has been abolished for the time being.

Services Australia, which oversees Centrelink, Medicare and more, is also in the process of hiring around 5,000 additional staff to speed up processing times.

However, other rumours that certain people’s claims have been “fast-tracked” are not based in fact.

Any more questions? Hit me up at zac.crellin@pedestriangroup.com.au and we’ll have a crack at them! Don’t forget to check out parts one, two and three of this series for more answers.


If you think you may have coronavirus, either call your doctor (DON’T visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you’re struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

And please remember to wash your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds) and keep at least 1.5 metres between you and those around you.

Image: AAP / Dan Peled