HomeCentrelink – Services AustraliaAge PensionAge Pension applications taking months to be processed, reports claim

Age Pension applications taking months to be processed, reports claim

Many people applying for an Age Pension are waiting months for their claims to be processed as Centrelink grapples with prolonged staff shortages.

Centrelink has around 34,000 new Age Pension claims waiting to be processed, with the average processing time sitting around 72 days, the ABC is reporting.

Services Australia, the government agency responsible for Centrelink, says the backlog is due to staff shortages, which are in the process of being addressed.

The agency has received funding to hire an additional 3000 staff, many of whom are already manning the phones after Centrelink streamlined their on-the-job training program.

But just a month ago, customers were reporting Centrelink was refusing to answer their calls, especially if they called more than once.

Hank Jongen, Services Australia general manager, says Centrelink staff have been doing the best they can under difficult circumstances.

“Up until now, we’ve not had sufficient staff to deal with the workload that we face,” he says.

“Now the government has recognised that and late last year, they allocated us sufficient funding for an additional 3000 staff. As a matter of priority, we’ve been recruiting those staff, and right now, they are all on board, but going through intensive training.”

But he says the long processing times are not entirely the fault of his staff, with many claimants not supplying all necessary documentation. He said those with complex financial arrangements would also face delays.

“Many people have got complex financial affairs, trusts, in shares and other investments, all of which need to be appropriately assessed,” he said.

“In some instances, we need to go to third parties to confirm the information that is required, all of which can contribute to delays.”

Automation turned off

New Services Australia CEO David Hazlehurst told the Sydney Morning Herald one of his priorities when he started in the role in January was to reduce the backlog of claims by 60 per cent by the middle of this year.

But at the same time, he says the backlog will not be cleared as quickly as it could because the agency has shut off some of its automated procedures in the wake of thee Robodebt debacle.

“Naturally, we’re very sensitive to getting things right around [the use of automation] with the experience of Robodebt for example,” he said.

“We’re really wanting to make sure that [with] everything we do that uses technology to make us more efficient, people can understand how it’s working, it’s done fairly, and ethical considerations are taken into account.

“We’ve actually turned off some of what was able to be done in an automated way, so that we’re making sure that we’re getting absolutely everything right.”

Make your claim as smooth as possible

To ensure your claim is assessed as quickly as possible, ensure you have submitted all necessary information and documentation.

Mr Jongen advises you can lodge an Age Pension application up to 13 weeks before you reach the pension age of 67.

“If you’re thinking of claiming an Age Pension, there are things you can do to make the process easier for you,” he says.

“The first thing is to check if you’re going to be eligible to receive the payment. These eligibility rules also include both income and assets tests.”

Incomplete paperwork is the biggest reason Age Pension claims are delayed.

“The information you need to provide is outlined in your claim form,” Mr Jongen says.

“It includes proof of identity, residence status and income and assets. That could include bank statements, super statements, tax returns and statements for your shares.”

Have you lodged an Age Pension application with Centrelink recently? How long did it take to be processed? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: What to expect when the Age Pension is indexed next month

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Retired a number of years ago, but, no problems. I applied at a centerlink office at least 2 months before I officially retired and … no problems. The backlog is caused, I am told, by people who lodge just before they retire and expect it done the next day!!

  2. I provide a professional claims service and up until around June 2023 we were getting health card claims approved in about 10 days and age pension claims in about 4-6 weeks. Suddenly the processing time went through the roof. Around this time the government terminated the contracts of external agencies who had been providing call centre and claims processing services. Health cards are still taking 8-10 weeks and age pension claims up to 4 months. Longer if you have companies, trusts or real estate involved. Although they have been recruiting I don’t believe we’ll see much relief until the middle of the year.

  3. If you lodge your claim 13 weeks before you become eligible, then why the angst? They say it’s taking just over 10 weeks (72 days) to process a claim. The more assets & income streams you have, the more complicated it becomes.

    If you’re already on a Centrelink payment, they send you an invitation 9 weeks before the eligibility date. You just check all the information they have on you, and lodge it electronically, and it’s ‘usually’ approved within 48-72 hours (mine was 2 hours, so I must have been ‘lucky’).

  4. I’m on a carers pension and due to be able to switch to an aged pension in 18 months now I’ve been told that Centrelink should contact me and ask if I want to stay on carers or change to aged ,I’m hoping this is the case with no delays,has anyone else been in the same situation was there any delay in changing from carers to aged

  5. I submitted my claim for the Age Pension 31/7/2023 and Low Income Health Care Card 17/10/2023, still waiting!!
    Each time I have phoned Centrelink it has been a case of waiting over an hour for an answer to then be told due to other income I am not a priority. (Part of the other income I might add is a UK State Pension which took about 4 weeks to process. Not bad for a country with a population of near on 68,000,000!!

  6. I am the husband of a resident who has been in an Agedcare Home for over 4 years.
    As my wife is means tested ,Centrelink has full details of our “financial Life” with the exception of our bank account which I update as much as the my gov web will allow. It certainly doesn’t go up!
    I have now been waiting since the 22 nd October ,the date our application for a pension was accepted. It is a very simple application .
    We could not apply earlier as we are 78 years of age ,on a low income but have only just come in under the assetts test.
    I double checked with Fiz before submitting the application.(fantastic people)
    Because when a pension application is submitted the my gov account won’t let any updates on the account even if say the bank account has gone down so it is being assessed at a higher Assett value.
    I feel very sorry for the Centrelink staff and wish them all the best.
    Fiz said ours would basically be a tick and flick.

    • You are correct. I deal with them daily and it’s not the Centrelink staff who are the problem, it’s Centrelink. As I type this, I’m trying to provide a service for my clients but the phone system won’t even let me join the queue, it just tells me they are all busy. I’m happy to wait in the queue but it won’t even give me that choice. It’s bloody frustrating.

  7. Applied in October became eligible in January and still waiting. when you call, they hang up and when you go to office, they tell you it’s being processed. February and still waiting.
    Ridiculous when you see dole bludgers & so-called “disability pensioners /carers” get theirs so much quicker!!!

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