HomeCentrelink – Services AustraliaMore than a million Services Australia claims yet to be processed

More than a million Services Australia claims yet to be processed

Some Australians have waited more than 100 days to have their payment from Services Australia approved, while there are still a million claims yet to be processed across different payments including Paid Parental Leave, JobSeeker and the Disability Support Pension.

New documents released by Services Australia show the extent of the backlog, after the government announced it had hired more staff to address the problem.

The department’s data outlined the average time it took to process claims between 1 September and 31 December last year.

For that period, the Disability Support Pension and Low Income Card had the longest wait time, with 82 days to process.

Dad and Partner Pay had a nearly 80-day wait time, while people applying for the Pensions Loan Scheme waited about 70 days.

People who wanted the Youth Allowance Apprentice payment, Carer Payment or access to Essential Medical Equipment support had to wait more than 50 days.

The average approval time was 27 days for JobSeeker and 25 days for Paid Parental Leave.

However, the wait times were much higher in some parts of Australia – the average number of days to process a payment increased dramatically depending on location.

Waiting times based on locations

The documents also provided average waiting times based on local government areas (LGA) between July and December of last year.

People in regional areas often waited longer than their suburban counterparts to get the Age Pension, with some taking between 70 and 211 days to get approval.

It was more than 100 days in West Arnhem in the Northern Territory, Wandering in Western Australia and Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

While people in some suburban areas such as South Perth and Fremantle in Western Australia, Adelaide, and Dundas in Sydney’s west waited between 82 and 109 days.

People in Barunga West in the Mid North of South Australia who applied for the Farm Household Allowance, a payment offered to farming families in financial hardship, waited on average 166 days to get approved.

Paid Parental Leave, which provides financial support to mums and dads so they can take time off work to care for their newborn, took months to approve for many.

Once again it was regional areas where there were long delays.

There was a 62-day wait on the Tiwi Islands and 58 in Quairading in Western Australia.

During that same time, some couples in the LGA of Strathfield in New South Wales, whose baby was stillborn, waited 339 days for their support payment to be processed.

The waiting times for JobSeeker varied across the country and there were long wait times in both regional and metropolitan areas.

People in Shark Bay and Tammin, both in Western Australia, had to wait more than 40 days, while those in Ryde, in Sydney’s north-west, and Hornsby, on the Upper North Shore, waited more than 30 days.

People still waiting

Services Australia chief executive officer David Hazlehurst told Senate estimates that 1.1 million claims had yet to be processed as of 31 December.

“Reducing this backlog is critical. Resources are not allowing us to deliver the services that we want to deliver,” he said.

“We will see across the next few months, as the 3000 additional staff come online, we will see an increase in average speed-of-answer across the telephones and we will see a decrease in customers waiting for their claims.”

David Hazlehurst sits with pursed lips at estimates
Services Australia CEO David Hazlehurst told Senate estimates reducing the backlog was critical. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Of those claims, there were tens of thousands that had waited more than 30 days but still had no outcome.

It included 26,941 claims for the Age Pension and 29,173 for the Disability Support Pension.

There were 14,919 claims for Paid Parental Leave that still hadn’t been resolved after 30 days, 13,782 for the Single Parenting Payment and 11,171 claims for the Child Care subsidy.

More than 50,000 claims for disaster support have been granted as of 8 February, with more than $62 million paid out.

However, 4760 claims for disaster payments are yet to be assessed.

2020 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
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