Centrelink boss tells how to ensure benefits are paid promptly

The start of a new year can be a great time to reset yourself and your finances. Here are some simple things you can do to set yourself up for the year.

First, check and update your Medicare bank details. This may seem obvious, but if you haven’t told Medicare about your new bank details, they aren’t able to pay you the benefits you’re owed. The easiest way to update your bank details is online through your Medicare account linked to myGov, or in the Express Plus Medicare app.

Once you’ve given your new bank details, any refunds you’re owed will be paid to you automatically.

Read: What you need to know about earning an income on the pension

Next, in the same vein, check and update your income and asset details with Services Australia. This is something you can do any time through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink app. By doing it at the start of January, you’ll be making sure you’re getting paid the right amount of payments from Centrelink.

Third, check for any lost superannuation. Lost superannuation is where the member is either:

  • uncontactable – the fund has lost contact with the member and the account hasn’t received a contribution or rollover for 12 months
  • inactive – an account hasn’t received a contribution or rollover in five years.

Read: Services Australia offering extra support for older Aussies

Generally, any superannuation accounts that are unclaimed for people over 65, lost or inactive low balance accounts will be transferred from the super fund to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) where the super money is held for you.

You can search for any lost super with the ATO by logging into your myGov account and clicking on ‘Manage my super’. You can also call the ATO on 132 865. You’ll be asked some questions and will need to give your tax file number, so be ready when you contact them.

Last, it’s a good time to check how the budget is going. A budget is a great way for you to take control of your spending and take advantage of some savings that might become available. An easy place to start is to look at last year’s credit card statements to see where your money is going.

Read: How your superannuation affects the Age Pension

The Moneysmart website gives five steps to create a budget:

  1. record your income – how much is coming in and when
  2. add up your expenses – the essential items you to pay to live
  3. set your spending limit – the money you have for ‘wants’
  4. set your savings goal – how much you want to save
  5. adjust your budget – it changes as your lifestyle changes.

You can also find out more about budgeting at our website. You can use the Simple Money Manager tool at Services Australia to see how much money you have coming in and going out.

That’s all for this month. I’ll be back in February.

Hank Jongen is general manager of Services Australia.

Do you check that your details are accurate at the start of every year? Do you consider yourself a good budgeter? Why not share your views in the comments section below?

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Written by Hank Jongen

Hank Jongen is the human face of Centrelink, a government agency on behalf of the Department of Human services, responsible for $100 billion in funds, 40,000 staff and 99% of the Australian population at some stage or another

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