Age Pension process is “too hard, too complicated and too long”

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Older Australians have spoken, saying the application process for the Age Pension is “too hard, too complicated and too long”.

New research from National Seniors and Retirement Essentials of 530 retirees who had applied for the Age Pension found that 42.4 per cent were dissatisfied with the process.

Anyone who has applied for the Age Pension would agree. The application itself is 25 pages long, with complicated wording, jargon and a range of rules that would make your eyes water.

YourLifeChoices Retirement Income and Financial Literacy Survey 2018 has also revealed that, not only is the Age Pension complicated for the 41 per cent who claim it as their primary source of income, but 75 per cent are unsure about their entitlements that could help them live a better retirement.

Around seven in 10 also say that the superannuation system is too complicated, more than 73 per cent say they don’t understand how financial investments work, and 72 per cent say it’s difficult to find help when they need to make a financial decision.

Almost 75 per cent believe the Government is not doing enough to provide the necessary information to help age pensioners decipher the complicated Age Pension process and their retirement income options.

Then, consider the fact that 33 million Centrelink calls went unanswered last year and it’s not surprising age pensioners are finding it difficult to gets questions answered.

With almost two million people on an Age Pension and 700 new applications made very working day, National Seniors Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Professor John McCallum has called on the Government to simplify the Age Pension and superannuation process, with a focus on training, improving internal process and management.

“Our study provides clear evidence that senior Australians face unnecessary hurdles to access the Age Pension entitlements they rely on for their essential living expenses,” said Prof. McCallum.

“The complexity of the Centrelink process, combined with insufficient call centre operators, long wait times and insufficient Financial Information Service Officers is frustrating for older Australians.

“Today, Centrelink’s assistance is at the end of a long wait on the phone or in a queue at the local Centrelink office, an under-resourced albeit competent Financial Information Service, or an online service that has been poorly designed for the physical and digital capabilities and service needs of older people.”

Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen responded to the report, claiming the process was “continually improving” its digital channels to make applying for and being on the Age Pension easier, and to limit the need for Australians to call for assistance.

“More and more people are choosing to do their business online, including older Australians, who can now lodge Age Pension claims electronically through myGov or the Centrelink app,” said Mr Jongen.

“The new online claim process ensures claims contain all the information needed, so they can be processed as quickly as possible.

“We understand online options are not for everyone, and we are committed to improving people’s experience when dealing with us, be it by phone, face-to-face or digitally.”

The concern is that these digital options do little for older Australians already struggling to keep pace with technology and online systems that have replaced face-to-face services.

“It is clear the system is not geared for seniors to independently and confidently apply for the Age Pension,” said Retirement Essentials Chief Executive Paul Rogan.

“Centrelink and other groups must work together to make it easier for those who are eligible to access the entitlements they rely on to fund their basic needs in retirement.”

Do you think the Age Pension is complicated? How have you found the Government’s digital services, such as myGov or the Centrelink app? Do you feel that the Government provides enough information to make the process accessible?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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109 Comments

Total Comments: 109
  1. 0
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    It should be detailed and require all the information required to weed out dishonest claims and to prevent errors and possible future clawback
    Taxpayer money should be tightly managed and only handed out to deserving applicants

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      I agree if you want the OAP then you should have to work for it like everything else in life you want.

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      When times were better partners of pensioners also received a payment. We know a couple where the wife was 13 years younger than her husband and she received the partner allowance which was nearly as good as the pension for 13 years before she went on the pension. That was not so long ago either as she is 71 now.
      OG, so a 94 year old should have a paper run? Or are you referring to the fact that the pension should be so complicated that a person needs a degree to complete the forms?
      I think you like to be provocative OG.

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      Kathleen … Now you are learning about OG and many other Lib’s in this forum …they have nothing to do just provoking with useless arguments to fill up there times in a day …. I look at the forum everyday and is so little useful comments from intelligent people ,,,, the rest Ummmmm no comment.

    • 0
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      Why not Kathleen as I could still do a paper run myself as it aint that hard.

    • 0
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      Well Kathleen – if we would still give pensions to partners (mostly wives) to old blokes getting to 66 now we certainly would blow the pension system. Too many oldies dumped their wives and went to Asia and got themselves a new model. Another reason perhaps the Hawke Govt dumped the widow’s pension. Who wants to have a lot of younger women on a widow’s pension? By our behaviour we sometimes force changes we do not like.

    • 0
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      .. yes – another string to the Ebergeezer bow….

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      Didn’t Bob Hawke rake in a younger model? When he shuffles off the mortal coil his younger wife will take over his taxpayer funded pension for a few more years.

    • 0
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      Cowboy Jim, did I say I agreed with it? Maybe the money was there then in better times. It amazed me at the time actually. Women don’t need to be supported by their husbands except during the childbirth years and while the children are young.
      A 52year old lady is quite capable of supporting herself and earning good money as well. You work until you are not able to. I did!

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      This is only a requirement for white people.

  2. 0
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    Government forms have always been confusing, probably designed to be that way which was OK when there were plenty of public servants to help people overcome the difficulties, but these days the simpler the better.
    Online form filling out is almost impossible for anyone with inefficient internet access which drops out half way through answering a question and they can never get it back in time to complete the form. This applies to many regional and most rural areas in Australia.

  3. 0
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    I applied online for the age pension in February, and the website says that the outcome is due on 4th April. It’s now nearly July and still waiting. I’m told there’s nothing wrong with my application it’s just stuck in the processing queue.

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      Hang in there. A friend’s took 8 months to process last year. Appears the NBN is not only dropping out for the public but for myGov too.

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      Not very surprising bluebottle when there are 700 new age pension applications per day! You would be just one of 56000 applications between February and now!

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      Bluebottle, my cousin was in exactly the same boat as you, applying in Feb. He got sick of waiting and talking to Centrelink so went and saw our local federal member and the money was in his account the next day. This could be worth a try for you considering how useless the government has made Centrelink now.

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      The problem is Hank is on a massive pay, yet doesn’t have KPIs which are related to the Customer Satisfaction aspects! In any private company, he would have been sacked long ago after producing such miserable outcomes. I think the Liberals like such inefficiency when and where it suits them!

    • 0
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      Seadove agree I ended up going to my local member to and it was complete within a few days after waiting months

    • 0
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      Aye, that’s what happens when you chop the public service at the workface and feed your fat cat contracted mates far too much…

    • 0
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      Hmm my local member is a government cabinet minister. Not sure if that would help or hinder ?

    • 0
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      Fat Hank’s (aka Jabba) massive salary and perks is simultaneously a bribe and a hold-over – if he continues to perform to the wishes of his political masters (watch this space for comment on ‘division of powers’) he will retain his bribe – if he fails or refuses, his contract will be terminated.

      This Space:- Division of Powers in OUR form of democracy demands that public service b e truly independent and offer independent advice and operation to support government policy – NOT be directly answerable to and subordinate to the incumbent government (government of the day) in any whim it may come up with.

      When Joh Bjelke-Petersen was asked what he understood by division of powers within a democracy – he famously answered :- “Division of what?”

      Howard, Keating, and all the rest since are no better…. and assume that by being elected they assume the mantle of absolute power and entitlement to rule i any way they wish.. The Divine Right of Elected Government… (a theme I’ve developed elsewhere alongside The Eternal Civil War Between Elected Government and People … over who should rightly rule the roost)…..

      You’ll get there one day, Grasshoppers…. I’m not a ‘smart-arse’ or ‘clever dick’ – I merely conceptualise and put into concrete terms those mostly amorphous things the most people feel without having the words to express them.

  4. 0
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    Have been through the system a few years ago and I can but agree that the system is DESIGNED to make life difficult. Has nothing to do with weeding out people and everything to do with avoiding payment.
    The current government has made life difficult for many retirees as it comes after them with a ferocity never before seen. And where is all this money being denied to retirees going? To the top of society via tax cuts of course.
    Think carefully before you vote as worse is coming should this disreputable group of thugs be re-elected with the next big end of town funded election propaganda campaign.

    • 0
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      Did all that stuff a couple of years ago, asked for and got a paper form. Filled everything in that I found easy and took the lot to C/Link along with bank statements, share notifications and so on. They helped me filling the rest in. On top of that they had a form for a possible overseas pension to fill in which was another headache but I got through OK. Never had hassles since – just wish the change over to the NBN was that easy.

    • 0
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      Mick oh Mick, that was exactly what I expected you would say. I will bet my bottom dollar that the questionnaire has hardly changed since 2013 – the days of Juliar and Dudd! This is the bureaucracy we are talking about, not government policy. They are different you know. Same old tune, Mick – come up with something different once in a while!

    • 0
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      You are lucky Jim

      Big Al – another post for your employer. Whilst you seek to run Labor into the ground based on NOTHING let’s start with the national debt:

      $147 billion when Labor left office.
      $552 billion (2017) under the government you post for. The Turnbull government.

      Tell now about Labor. Really. Troll!

    • 0
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      And Mick, what was the government debt when Labor came into office in 2007? What’s that? You cant remember? That’s the same answer Dill Short-on ideas gave to the Royal Commission into union corruption. Now Mick, how many cost saving measures has the present opposition supported that have been put to the parliament by the democratically elected government? I will give you a clue – the answer is somewhere between nought and zero. So don’t go lecturing the likes of me about government debt. Your mob created it, and have done everything in their power to thwart every attempt by the present government to correct the situation. The politics of envy old fella – just disgusting!

    • 0
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      He said the figures, Al. And an opposition has no obligation to support unworthy legislation and regulation and changes that adversely affect people…. I’ve said before – the entire gamut of government spending needs a full and thorough review and revision – starting with the wastes of money in QANGOs that duplicate public service activity, and ‘out-sourcing’ things that could equally be done by the existing public service under its mandate, and then a full review of who’s NOT paying tax and soaking up their dollars.

      Then there’s PPL and childcare subsidies that could be severely curtailed (wow – how do they do that now without cutting employment? Talk about digging your own grave), and a host of other WELFARE benefits outside of the mandate of Social Security.

      Plenty of meat out there for the chopping block without attacking pension and unemployment benefit rights, part of the Social security Fund paid for over years. The campaign against Social Security is ideologically based and nothing more and deserves to be brought low at every turn.

    • 0
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      Now let’s see who might be working for a government entity, last week our regular commentator on all things anti government claimed he gave up work in his 50’s because he was sick of big buisness treating him like a slave and paying him slave wages, so what has he been living on, it can’t be on his savings because you can’t live and save on slave wages, he has claimed for many years that he doesn’t believe in either party and people should look to vote independents in, and yet he is full of praise for labor and no matter what the Libs do he is against them, does anyone else smell a rat here or am I just getting more cynical as I get older, also in the past I am certain this same person has also claimed he is ineligible to claim the pension, them slave wages must have been better than I thought they would be, or has there been a lottery win or the more likely answer his employer Bill is his sponsor I guess we will never know, or maybe his writing of fiction is starting to pay dividends.

  5. 0
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    What gets me is that the Government already has most of the information they need through the various departments such as the ATO. The idea behind centerlink was that it was supposed to bring all this together in one department so that the process was simpler. Another example of this is the My Aged Care system. All your assessments etc are supposed to be stored in one central database and it is supposed to simplify the process of getting support to stay living independently in your own home with minimal assistance. In some cases it works but in most it doesn’t. So maybe the real question to ask is why arent the Government doing what its supposed to do and eliminate the questions they already know the answers to. They already know about your super and tax, shares, what your assets are etc through the tax office and other departments. If you go for an aged care assessment they really only need to assess your physical circumstances yet they also gather all this information again to assess your ability to contribute to service provision. Anyone else wondering why they dont just use the information we already know they have which of itself would simplify many processes.

    • 0
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      I agree with your comment Ted and I often wonder why I am sitting on the end of the phone waiting to talk to someone about something they already have full information about.
      I can’t do it online as my computer is very old and I am sure it cant be picking up some things on the website as items mentioned seem to be missing or have no button to press to access.

    • 0
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      Hey Autumn

      If your around the Woolloongabba area of Brisbane we have an internet cafe and free lessons if your interested without having to upgrade your computer.

    • 0
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      Ted, I’m on the DSP, and have been advised they will send out a form for me to complete around 9 weeks prior to me being eligible for the Age Pension.

      They already have all they need on me to pay me the DSP, so why can’t they just transfer me over on my 66.5 year birthday?

      Because they’ll be changing the payment I receive and they need all that information again for my Age Pension claim. I know, it’s ridiculous.

      I had to go thru this in the late 1990s when I changed from the Single Parenting Payment to the DSP. Haven’t changed since, and I don’t ever think they’ll change.

    • 0
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      SuziJ – you sure are milking the system for all it’s worth – from the Single Parent to the DSP and now the OAP. And now you are complaining about filling in a few forms. Really surprised you even put that in writing.

    • 0
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      No Ted, nowhere near Brisbane. Your internet cafe is a great idea, we used to have one here but it closed when the owners became ill.

    • 0
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      Last tax return the ATO autofilled every field for me including bank interest….. HELLO!!

    • 0
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      Jeez, Cowboy Jim – bit harsh criticising those who get their entitlements from government.

      You must be one of those ideological people who think that feeding children is a crime if you are broke…….. the little bustards should just go straight to the gas chamber…. healthy parents to the right where work will make you free – useless small mouths to the left….

  6. 0
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    Autumn Oz. any thing to do with C/Link is impossible,lack of staff etc.Perhaps the Federal Government wish it to be that way and rather spend time and money on getting a tax break for large over seas companies that pay very little or no tax anyway.Mick what you are saying is correct in the real world, how did we end up in the mess we are in.

    • 0
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      Floss, I think the gov’t enjoys making life difficult for everyone.
      It isn’t limited to C/link but as Ted Wards above says it also infects My Age Care as anyone of pension age, not just those receiving a pension, need to go through them to access community transport and neighbour aid if transport is needed to medical appointments and shopping etc.
      The whole thing is crazy as they were here assessing one of us but didn’t assess the other as it needed another application for that assessment which is ridiculous.

    • 0
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      Smiling Hank – aka Jabba the Hutt …..

  7. 0
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    Gave up on My Gov a few years ago when I still believed it was possible for an age pensioner to get a half-day work. A big conflict in centrelink/mygov passwords. Not worth going there and waiting to sort it out.

    • 0
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      Never had any trouble with MyGov site for myself or anyone I have helped with their financial affairs.

    • 0
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      They kept refusing my password because it conflicted with a password I had at Centrelink.

      The Centrelink office said i couldn’t transfer from Disability pension to Age pension Disability, but Human Services in Canberra said I could.

      I was about the time when the government shut down a lot of their funded employment services and I became ineligible for disability employment assistance because I had turned 65. MYGov had just started.

      Now we have (Seek employment service) where private employment services advertise on another employment service. Casual work means, a tryout for a full time position and a person gets no acknowledgement of the relative success of their application.

    • 0
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      Old Geezer, it is time you went back to the factory and had your recorded tapes or CDs upgraded, you are continually repeating yourself.

  8. 0
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    My experience is similar to the others who have made comments. 4 and half months waiting for a part pension. Considering the amount of admin taken into taking my enquiries both at the local office and the call centre. The costs to the department must be huge probably close to my back pay if and when I receive the pension. My whole application should have taken only two visits in February. I am still waiting in June . There have been at least 5 visits to the local Centrelink office and a similar number to the call centre. The staff are doing their best but the system is incredibly inefficient. My issue is that the assessment team is not using technology to know that more info is required. It has been up to me to ring up to find out what is going on on numerous occasions. Only to be told another bank statement is required etc. This is obviously jamming the system causing delays for everyone.!!??

  9. 0
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    “Age Pension process is “too hard, too complicated and too long” – Agree!
    Scrap the system altogether and replace it with Universal Pension.

    All retirees should ask their MPs and threaten to & not vote for them if they do not listen. Time for action is NOW (at the next election) – you owe it to yourselves as well as future retirees getting into this mess each year!

    • 0
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      It aint that hard at all. People are just too lazy and want their welfare without any effort on their behalf.

    • 0
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      George you are right don,t vote for them who put all the hard ship to the honous old hard working AUSTRALIAN, if they don,t want to listen.

    • 0
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      Good vote for whoever you like but it aint going to change anything but probably make it so much worse instead.

    • 0
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      Worse for you, OG? Then bring it on! Might be good for most others!
      While I don’t support either major party (or the Greens), this Liberal Govt since the promise-breaker / liar Abbott has completely lost any right to continue governing.

    • 0
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      Nope it wont matter to me who is in power as I will just change to suit but it will for many others.

      I will admit thought that the current government is so much better than the one we had before it.

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