Finally: You’ll Be Able To Apply For The Pandemic Disaster Payment With A Positive RAT Result

You’ll soon be able to cop the $750 weekly Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment if you test positive on a rapid antigen test (aka a RAT) instead of just a PCR test, which is great news if you’re unable to work due to COVID iso.

The government’s now announced that from January 10th, Centrelink will accept both positive RAT and PCR test results as evidence if you’re trying to claim the payments, and too bloody right.

With the country moving towards RATs as PCR testing centres are increasingly overwhelmed, the decision to accept RATs as evidence for the support payment is super important. It’ll hopefully open up financial support to more people, particularly given the country’s rising case numbers.

That is if you can get your hands on a test, of course.

As a refresher, you can claim the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment if you have to self-isolate or quarantine, if you’re a close contact who has to iso, or a carer from someone with COVID-19. To be eligible, you can’t be already receiving any income support payments or money from paid work.

However, some people have argued that the definition of close contact unfairly limits who can access the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.

The national definition of a close contact (which is different in South Australia, FYI) only identifies them as people who live with a confirmed COVID case (aka household contacts) or people who’ve spent more than four hours with a confirmed case in a household.

In the payment regulations, it also says that you won’t be eligible unless you’ve explicitly been directed to isolate by a health official.

Sally McManus, secretary for the Australian Council of Trade Unions, was critical of how this definition would impact people’s ability to apply for the Paid Pandemic Disaster Leave if they’d been exposed to the virus but not pinged as a close contact.

“Close contact definition still excludes workplace contacts which is ridiculous, dangerous and unfair. You can work with someone for 8 hours and still not be defined as a close contact,” she Tweeted.

“There are other problems such as the overwhelmed system being unable to give the official notification needed, long lines for sick ppl & it not being full replacement wages”.

How much you get from the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment will also changing after January 18. If you’ve lost or are expected to lose a minimum of 20 hours of work over the course of a week, you’ll continue to be able to cop the full $750.

However, if you’ve lost 19 hours of work or less, you’ll only be able to claim $450 a week. Plus, you also can’t claim the payment if you’ve got available funds of more than $10,000.

So yay for being able to apply for the payment if you test positive on an RAT, but boo to it not being more accessible for Aussies, especially those who have been exposed to COVID-19 at work.

If you’re eligible, you can apply for the Payment online at Services Australia or call 180 22 66.