What are the options when facing unemployment later in life?

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The recession caused by the pandemic is making life uncertain for many older Australians. Merrilyn has been stood down and is worried about her future job security and wants to know what options are available to her.

Q. Merrilyn
Just wondering what my financial options are now that I’ve been stood down from my work, with very real possibility of being sacked soon? I am 59 (60 in July next year and had hoped to finish the shift work position somehow around then anyway and do something else). A friend told me to seek independent financial advice, but how do you find someone suitable, trustworthy and affordable? Panic stations stress big time now!

Will I be forced to access my (mediocre) super (I would prefer not to do that) or can I apply for Centrelink/Newstart or whatever it’s called? I haven’t needed them for most of the 19 years I was employed at this job and it freaks me out, especially navigating the crappy system and knowing it probably won’t be enough to feed me as well as pay my already basic budget/bills! I’m not expecting it to cater for any lavish lifestyle and fortunately I’ve never been that way inclined! 

How long will I wait to be paid if I apply? I have about 500 hours leave accrued up my sleeve from work. I have barely any savings but also have no debt and own my home now with some redraw still available although I don’t intend on using it!

A. Getting some good financial advice as your friend suggested can be a good place to start.

The Financial Planning Association of Australia offers a ‘Find a Planner‘ tool that will list advisers in your area and the Association of Financial Advisers offers a similar service.

When you have created a shortlist of advisers you can check their history, qualifications and current employment status on Moneysmart’s financial advisers register before you approach them about getting advice.

As you have been stood down from work, you may be eligible to receive a JobKeeper payment, although they will need to apply and check their eligibility for the payment, for which you and other employees of the business may be eligible.

If you, or the company that you work for are not eligible for the JobKeeper payment, then you should be eligible for a JobSeeker payment, what used to be known as the Newstart payment.

That payment currently attracts a coronavirus supplement of $250 per fortnight until 31 December, which will be reduced to $150 per fortnight from 1 January 2021.

The process of applying can be done entirely online, and Centrelink has attempted to streamline the application process since the number of people claiming the payment ballooned when the pandemic first started to bite, so you should not have to wait too long once you are deemed eligible.

Have you had to apply for JobSeeker after losing employment due to the pandemic? How did you find the process?

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Written by Ben

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