The Government’s $1,500 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment Explained

With the Federal Government’s decision to slowly roll-back wage subsidies still causing concern amongst the nation’s hardest-hit workers, a new payment has become available. Residents in New South Wales and South Australia are now eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, a scheme aimed at reducing the burden on impacted Australians in the wake of the COVID-19 conditions. But with so much uncertainty surrounding the government’s plan to extend or end the current wage programs, what does the new addition really mean?

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What is the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment?

Introduced earlier this year, the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is a lump sum payment designed to help struggling residents with their financial requirements. The handout was instigated to curb the growing economic pressure on those people who are required to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone.

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment effectively answers the lingering question of how Aussies who are stuck in quarantine will be able to stay afloat. While the ability to go to work and earn money has been put on hold, the general day-to-day bills certainly have not. The AUD$1,500 payment allows those under restrictions who are eligible to pay rent, afford food and maintain some form of economic normality.

Who is Eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment?

The original roll-out of the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment saw the $1,500 handout available to those in Victoria from July 5. Tasmania followed soon after on August 22 with Western Australians able to access the payment from September 11.  As of September 17, the payment became accessible to eligible residents in New South Wales and South Australia as well after Prime Minister Scott Morrison approved the plan.

“We didn’t want to declare a State of Emergency in NSW, which is what the criteria were to get the pandemic leave,’ NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a media briefing. “I wrote to the prime minister saying “please can you support us in that way” and he very gladly accepted. We want to make sure, first and foremost, that those who need to isolate do so.”

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Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment Criteria

However, in order to receive the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, you must meet the criteria. For NSW residents, this means you may be eligible if NSW Health has told you to self-isolate or quarantine. They need to give you these directions for any of the following reasons:

  • you have coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • you’ve been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19
  • you care for a child, 16 years or under, who has COVID-19
  • you care for a child, 16 years or under, who’s been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19.

Additionally, you may also be eligible if you’re caring for someone who has COVID-19. You must also meet all of the following:

  • you’re at least 17 years old and live in New South Wales
  • you’re an Australian resident or hold a visa that gives you the right to work in Australia
  • you’re unable to go to work and earn an income
  • you have no appropriate leave entitlements, including pandemic sick leave, personal leave or leave to care for another person
  • your period of quarantine is after 17 September 2020.

The good news is that if you’re a member of a couple, you can both claim the payment. You and your partner will need to complete separate claims, but the opportunity is there for payments to be received from both parties. That being said, you won’t be eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment if you receive any income, earnings or salary from paid work, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Paid Parental Leave or Dad and Partner Pay or JobKeeper Payments whilst isolating.

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How Much is the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment?

At the moment, eligible Aussie will receive $1,500 for each 14 day period they’ve been told to self-isolate or quarantine. The payment also applies to those caring for someone with COVID-19 and is a taxable income. This means if your submission is successful, you are required to include the pandemic relief payment in your 2020-21 Income Tax Return.

Further to that, you also need to include the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment in your family income estimate as taxable income. This applies if you or your partner receives a family tax benefit or child care subsidy.

How to Claim the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

According to Services Australia, the easiest way to claim is over the phone. If you are required to isolate for longer than 14 days, you must submit a new claim for each isolation period. You can also print and complete the claim and fax it to your state’s official services department. The government entity has confirmed, however, that it is your responsibility to decide to claim for this payment based on your personal circumstances. It’s also your responsibility to make sure the information you provide is true and correct, so be sure you are honest.

For more information on the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, visit the official Services Australia website.

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