Legal Aid means test adjustments for COVID-19 financial supplement payments
LEGAL AID MEANS TEST ADJUSTMENT FOR COVID-19 FINANCIAL SUPPLEMENT PAYMENTS
Temporary additional Government financial support has been made available in response to the effect of Coronavirus containment measures. This financial assistance may effect a persons eligibility for a grant of legal aid. Some applicants prior to receiving the additional COVID-19 financial support, who would have been eligible to receive legal aid, may no longer be eligible, whilst others who were previously ineligible for legal aid may now be eligible.
To assist with this Legal Aid has developed guidelines to ensure vulnerable Tasmanian’s are not disadvantaged from being able to access legal aid services.
The new guideline enables Legal Aid to disregard some types of the COVID-19 financial assistance in assessing eligibility for aid:
Guideline 2 – Means Test
(15) Treatment of COVID-19 financial assistance
(a) Temporary additional government income and financial support has been made available in response to the effect of Coronavirus containment measures. This financial assistance may affect a person’s eligibility for a grant of legal aid. Applicants prior to receiving the additional income support who would have received legal aid, may no longer be eligible, whilst others who were previously ineligible for legal aid may now be eligible.
(b) In determining applications for legal aid:
- A person whose sole source of income are Centrelink benefits or payments, exception for applicants in receipt of the JobKeeper payment will continue to be deemed to meet the income test pursuant to Guideline 2(1)(b)(ii);
- the JobKeeper payment will be regarded as income as set out in Guideline 2(5)(b)(i)B - Definition of income, ‘income from paid work…’;
- the Coronavirus Economic Support Payment and other Coronavirus related lump sum payments, including early release of superannuation and loan assistance payments arising as part of the Coronavirus stimulus response, may be disregarded in the calculation of the applicant’s income or assets;
(c) The Commission may disregard some income, including JobKeeper payment, or assets received as part of the Coronavirus financial stimulus response where the applicant:
- has experienced a change in income or financial position as a result of coronavirus responses and/or coronavirus financial stimulus measures;
- has lost their income and/or has had to close their business as a result of the Coronavirus;
- is committed to higher living expenses as a result of their previous income and are using savings and/or superannuation to supplement those living expenses;
- has business overheads that need to be met despite the business generating little or no income
and the inclusion of the income or assets may unfairly disadvantage the applicant.