Recently unemployed or lost work?
The COVID-19 coronavirus is hitting us all hard.
If you’ve lost your job or had your hours reduced, you may be eligible to receive government support payments through Centrelink.
In this case, it is important to take the time to register with Centrelink to ensure you receive any benefits you are entitled to. We understand the process might feel overwhelming so we’ve created a step-by-step guide.
If you’d like more information from Services Australia about payments and how these have been affected by COVID-19, visit Services Australia. Their information is also available in other languages.
Further information on Centrelink services
Step 1 – Set up or log into your myGov account
A myGov account links your Centrelink, Medicare and Australian Taxation office services and helps you manage these with one password.
- If you already have a myGov account that is linked to Centrelink, log in and start by registering your intention to claim a payment. Now skip ahead to Step 4.
- If you do not have a myGov account, create one by heading here (with extra instructions around how to create an account here). If you’ve not linked services such as Medicare or the ATO before, this may take more time.
- If you are having any difficulty in setting up your account you can reach the myGov help desk here.
Once you’ve logged in to myGov, you can register your intention to claim a payment. This has been introduced to help manage the volume of claims that are being processed. If you are approved, Centrelink will backdate your payment.
Step 2 – Create a Centrelink account
To create a Centrelink account, you will need a Customer Reference Number (CRN) or Customer Access Number (CAN).
How to create a Centrelink account will vary depending on your situation. See which of the below best describes your situation and what you need to do next.
If you have received payments from Centrelink in the past but don’t know your CRN or CAN or don’t know if you have one
If you’ve ever received payments from Centrelink (for example, when you were a student), you may already have a Centrelink account.
Even if you don’t have an online Centrelink account, you may have a Customer Reference Number (CRN) or Customer Access Number (CAN).
By finding old emails, letters or documents from Centrelink, you may well be able to find your CRN or CAN.
If you can’t, then you’ll need to call Centrelink (132 850). They will ask you some questions and either let you know your existing number, or if you don’t have one, they will set you up with a CRN.
If you have never received payments from Centrelink and definitely don’t have a CRN or CAN
In the past, to set up a CRN with Centrelink, you needed to provide three original documents in person to prove your identity.
In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus situation, the requirements have changed. You now no longer need to visit a Centrelink service centre.
To set up a CRN you can now call Centrelink (as they do not want people attending Centrelink offices in person). They will ask you questions that allow you to identify yourself and provide you with a CRN.
Before that, you can register your intent to claim a payment through myGov without a CRN or CAN and they will backdate any future payments.
Step 3 – Link your Centrelink account in myGov
- Log into your myGov account
- Add or ‘link’ Centrelink to your existing services (ie. Medicare and/or the ATO). If you have trouble, you can follow this guide.
Step 4 – Make a claim
Once you have a myGov account linked to Centrelink, login and select your Centrelink account to start your claim.
Select Payments and Claims from the menu > Claims > Make a Claim.
Eligibility and required documentation is changing as the government responds to the unfolding COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Every person’s circumstances are very different, so what documents Centrelink requires from you in order to assess your claim will be unique to you.
You’ll need to submit “required documents” immediately, and have 14 days to submit “supplementary documents”.
If you require any help with Centrelink or with lodging a claim, you can call them here
Step 5 – Book a phone appointment
As part of the claim process, you’ll need to book a phone appointment. You do not need to visit a Centrelink service centre.
Once you have made the appointment, make sure to answer the call from a private number at the agreed time.
Once you have provided all the documentation and had your phone appointment, you will need to wait for your claim to be processed.
Step 6 – What happens if your claim is approved
If you are approved for a Centrelink payment, such as the Jobseeker payment, you will be required to fulfil what is known as “mutual obligations”.
While you are receiving payments, your obligations will include things like applying for jobs or undergoing training.
These have recently changed and mutual obligations will look different during the coronavirus period.
Read our COVID-19 FAQs to check the latest information
Some people, such as sole traders and self-employed people with a certain income, people caring for someone who has coronavirus or who is self-isolating, or even parents of children whose school has closed, may even have their mutual obligations waived.
In any case, Centrelink will let you know what is required of you while you are receiving the Centrelink payment. If your circumstances change, and you feel you may fit into one of the exemption categories, you will need to call Centrelink to advise them.
If you are unfamiliar with Centrelink payments, it is important to understand that failing to report changes in your circumstances, failing to check in on allocated days and attend appointments as directed by Centrelink can affect your payments under normal circumstances.
It is important to understand what is expected of you and follow through at the required time to ensure your payments continue to arrive in your bank account on time.
If appropriate, Centrelink will connect you to a local job services provider such as MAX.
Learn more about our Employment Services
Having difficulty setting up your myGov account?
If you don’t have a myGov account, talk to us and we can help you set one up. Alternatively, the myGov help desk is open from:
Monday - Friday 7:00am - 10:00pm
Saturday - Sunday 10:00am - 5:00pm
Call the myGov help desk
Select option 1.