Cash payments totalling $500 are about to line the pockets of around 5.1 million pensioners and other eligible recipients.
The two $250 payments were announced as part of the Federal Budget handed down by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday night.
They’re due to set the Government back $2.6 billion over three years from the 2020/2021 tax period.
The aim is to help stimulate a struggling economy and to ease some of the financial challenges posed by coronavirus.
But they’re not the first coronavirus-related cash payments to go out to Australians in 2020.
Earlier this year, a $750 payment was made to about 6.6 million people who were receiving some form of assistance from Centrelink.
And a second $750 payment went to 5 million Australians in July as part of the Government’s coronavirus response.
Here’s what we know about the latest round of payments.
Who’s eligible for the $250 payments?
It’s not just pensioners.
If you receive any of the following payments or if you hold any of the following healthcare cards, then you’re eligible:
- Age pension
- Disability Support Pension
- Carer Payment
- Family Tax Benefit, including the Double Orphan Pension (but not in receipt of a primary income support payment)
- Carer Allowance (but not in receipt of a primary income support payment)
- Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) holders (not in receipt of primary income support payment)
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders
- eligible Veterans’ Affairs payment recipients and concession card holders
When will they be paid out?
The first payment of the two will start being paid out from November.
And the second part is due to follow in March 2021.
We don’t have the exact dates for either yet.
Will the payments be taxed?
No, the payments won’t be taxed.
They also won’t count as income support for the purposes of any income support payments.
What do industry experts make of the payments?
Ian Yates, the chief executive of the Council on the Ageing (COTA), which represents older Australians, said the payments were “very welcome”.
“This is what we’ve called for and we’re pleased to see the Government delivering more money to pensioners, who both need it and will spend it into the economy,” he said.
“There are a number of other very useful initiatives in aged care, but the big aged care budget’s clearly going to be in May next year after the royal commission’s reported.”
Mr Yates said COTA still had some concerns following Tuesday night’s payment announcement.
“We fully support the broad and amazing range of economic stimulus job creation programs, and we support the targeting of younger Australians as a vulnerable group,” he said.
“What we’re worried about is there’s not a parallel targeting for those mature and older workers who are also and equally vulnerable.
“They are often the first made redundant, they find it very hard after economic crises to get back into the workforce at a time when they’re trying to support themselves and pay for their retirement.
“So we are concerned that having supplements for supporting young people without a parallel for older people will price older workers out and make their task in the economic recovery even harder.”
Mr Yates said COTA would discuss this issue with the Government.