2021 COVID-19 Disaster Payments

2021 COVID-19 Disaster Payments

If you can’t work because you or someone in your household is impacted by COVID-19, support is available.

The COVID-19 Disaster Payment is a weekly payment available to eligible workers who can’t attend work or who have lost income because of a lockdown and don’t have access to paid pandemic leave entitlements. If you are a couple, both people can separately claim the payment.

Sole traders may apply for COVID-19 Disaster Payment if you are unable to operate your business from home. However, you will not be eligible if you are also receiving a State or Territory business grant.

The disaster payment is tax-free and the ATO has confirmed that it doesn’t need to be included in your tax return.

Timing of the payment

The disaster payment is generally accessible when the Chief Medical Officer declares a region a hotspot (you can find the listing here). From 2 August 2021, payments will apply from day one of the lockdown and will be paid in arrears once claims open (previously, the hotspot had to last 7 days or more and the payment only applied from day 8 of a lockdown).

In New South Wales, the requirement to be in a Commonwealth declared hotspot was removed for anyone who met the other eligibility criteria from 18 July 2021. In Victoria, the hotspot requirement was removed from 15 July 2021.


Date of declaration

Disaster payment accessible from



12 August 2021

20 August 2021*




18 July 2021


City of Brisbane, Moreton Bay Region, Redland City, Logan City, City of Ipswich, Shire of Noosa, City of Gold Coast, Lockyer Valley Region, Scenic Rim Region, Somerset Region and Sunshine Coast Region

1 August 2021

7 August 2021*


Regional Council of Cairns and Shire of Yarrabah Qld

8 August 2021

16 August 2021*


Metropolitan Adelaide

20 July 2021

28 July 2021



22 July 2021

25 July 2021*



5 August 2021

13 August 2021*

*Payment paid in arrears from date of declaration (day 1 of the lockdown).

How much is the payment?

The COVID-19 disaster payment amount available depends on how many hours of work you have lost in the week:

Hours of work lost

Disaster payment amounts*

Between 8 and 20 (or a full day of work)


20 or more


* From 2 August 2021

The payment applies to each week of lockdown you are eligible.


The COVID-19 disaster payment is emergency relief. It is available if you:

  • Live or work in an area that is subject to a state or territory public health order that imposes restriction on movement and is declared a Commonwealth COVID-19 hotspot, or
  • Have visited an area that is a Commonwealth COVID-19 hotspot and you are subsequently subject to a restricted movement order when you return to other parts of the impacted region or interstate.

And you:

  • Are an Australian citizen, permanent resident or temporary visa holder who has the right to work in Australia, and
  • Are aged 17 years or over, and
  • Have lost 8 hours or more of work or a full day of your usual work as a result of the restrictions – losing work includes being stood down by your employer, not being assigned any shifts for the week of restrictions and being unable to work from home. Losing a full day of what you were scheduled to work but could not work because of a restricted movement order includes not being able to attend a full-time, part-time or casual shift of less than 8 hours, and
  • Don’t have paid pandemic-related leave available through your employer (annual or personal leave is not taken into account), and
  • Are not receiving income support payments, a state or territory pandemic payment, Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment or state small business payment for the same period. See ‘Top up’ payments for those on income support Income support payments include Age Pension, Austudy, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Farm Household Allowance, JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment, Partner Allowance, Special Benefit, Widow Allowance, Youth Allowance and Income Support Supplement, Service Pension or Veteran Pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
‘Top up’ payments for those on income support

A special $200 a week ‘top-up’ payment is available to those who are ineligible for the COVID-19 disaster payment because they receive an income support payment through social security, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Dad and Partner Pay or Parental Leave Pay.  The top-up payment is in addition to your existing income support payment, if you can demonstrate:

  • You have lost more than 8 hours of work and
  • Reported employment income to Centrelink at least once on or after 29 April 2021 or had ongoing employment income on or after 29 April 2021, and
  • You meet the other eligibility requirements for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment.

If you are a member of a couple, you can both apply for this payment.