Have you noticed any difference in your Age Pension payments recently? Perhaps you’ve been paid more than usual, or not enough?
There are reports that thousands of older Aussies who receive income support payments from Centrelink may have been paid incorrectly.
The Herald Sun is reporting that some recipients have been overpaid, while others have not been paid enough.
A confidential government document was obtained by the federal Opposition under the Freedom of Information Act and presented in question time last week. It showed 11,000 people had been impacted by the “tech glitch”. However, only 4000 had been notified, leaving 7000 unaware anything was wrong.
The documents show Services Australia, the government department that oversees Centrelink, first became aware of the issue late last year but had not informed the public.
Services Australia has been under fire recently over blowout wait times and plummeting staff levels.
And all in the wake of the Robodebt scandal, which saw thousands issued with incorrect automated debt notices, causing widespread community pain and anguish.
Income and assets tests
The government document showed thousands may have received incorrect rates of payment because customers had their superannuation incorrectly excluded from the Age Pension income and assets tests, resulting in a higher payment rate.
But Hank Jongen, Services Australia general manager, assured The Herald Sun that nobody would need to repay any money and no debt notices would be issued as a result of this incident.
He said any overpayments would be waived.
“No-one will need to repay any money as a result of this issue,” Mr Jongen said.
“We sincerely apologise for any confusion or distress it’s caused our customers.”
Paul Fletcher, shadow minister for government services, said the bungle was a reflection on the Albanese government and social services minister Bill Shorten in particular.
He says the delayed disclosure would not have happened if not for digging from the Opposition.
‘Disappointing and concerning’
“It’s deeply disappointing and concerning that it took a Freedom of Information request to find out about this processing disaster,” Mr Fletcher said in a statement.
“Now we know why. Thousands of vulnerable Australians have been unfairly caught up in a Services Australia tech glitch during a cost-of-living crisis.
“The public should have been informed of a bungle of this kind, but what we’ve seen is Bill Shorten avoiding transparency and instead sweeping the problem under the carpet because his agency is in disarray.”
Mr Jongen stressed that customers did not need to contact Centrelink about this issue. He said a dedicated team of specialised staff had been assembled and would contact any customers affected.
Have you moved on to the Age Pension in the past two years? Is the government doing enough to prevent this kind of mistake? Let us know in the comments section below.
Also read: Get ready now to apply for the Age Pension