How not to fall foul of this Centrelink rule

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One of the biggest misunderstandings I hear from customers is that they don’t need to tell Services Australia about changes to their income or assets because they believe we already have access to that information.

I want to clarify that in most cases Services Australia can’t access information about changes to your circumstances unless you let us know about them.

As a Services Australia customer, whether you receive the Age Pension or a carer payment or any other payment from us, it’s important you let us know of changes to your circumstances within 14 days, as these changes could affect your payment.

If you don’t tell us, we may pay you too much and you’ll have to pay the money back.

Starting point

To find out what you need to tell us about, a great starting point is to look at the letters you get from us. They give you details about what you need to notify us about. Please make sure you read them carefully.

You can also find information on what you have to tell us on our website. Go to servicesaustralia.gov.au and search for your payment, e.g. Age Pension.

Some of the things you need to let us know about include changes to your address, going overseas, changes to your living arrangements, and if you stop or start working.

If you’re working, you must report what you’re paid each fortnight. You also need to let us know about changes to your financial assets such as significant bank account changes and shares.

You don’t need to tell us every time your bank balance changes, but you do need to tell us if the balance of your combined financial assets increases by more than $2000. If you’re getting a part rate of pension, it might be in your interest to let us know of any reductions in your financial assets as well.

Fair share

Shares are a bit different to other financial assets.

Services Australia automatically updates the values of your shares twice a year on 20 March and 20 September. If you own shares, you don’t have to tell us of any increase in the market value of those. We’ll take care of that on those two days each year. You do need to tell us if the number of your shares have changed, that is, if you’ve bought or sold some, or if you’ve been given new shares through something like a dividend reinvestment scheme.

It’s easy to let us know about changes. The best way to do this is using one of our self-service options: your Centrelink online account through myGov, your Express Plus Centrelink mobile app, or by calling the Centrelink phone self-service. If you don’t have access to a self-service option, then please call us on your regular payment line.

If you’re thinking about making some big financial changes that could affect your eligibility for your pension or concession card, you can call the Services Australia Financial Information Service on 132 300 to discuss your options.

Have you found it difficult to update your information with Centrelink? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Centrelink Q&A: Are funeral bonds counted as an asset?

Written by Hank Jongen

10 Comments

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  1. Centrelink are continually telling us we have to report this and that and when we change our undies and what colour they are!

    The also tell us to use our Centrelink account via the myGov website.

    I have lost count of the number of times I have reported various things on their website and it’s obvious that no one checks this. I thought that once you changed something that it threw up a flag and they would have a look and check it out. Nope.

    A month ago I informed them of a change in my assets. 3 weeks later and nothing had been changed on their end. I AGAIN made more changes and nothing was done. I rang them and the woman was quoting me details from 6 months ago. I told her I had updated them twice in the last 3 weeks and after a bit of keyboard clicking she acknowledged that I had done the right thing.

    My point is that it seems as if they never check the updates we supply even though they say they are important!

    • This is what Hank Jorgen the Centrelink manger keeps telling us. Do it through your My Gov account and we will take care of it.
      Rubbish. I have always had the same experience. Upload correct documents and nothing is done until I ring them weeks later or months later.
      Hank Jorgen should be sacked as manager and banned from holding any government position for wrong information and misleading the Australian public

    • I couldn’t agree more – very frustrating – I have been locked out for months at a time and can’t stay on the phone long enough to be answered most times due to home circumstances. Also some Centrelink staff insist Centrelink does check our finances (banks super etc.). Any chance they could be trained correctly. When I do get things updated it reverts to locked IMMEDIATELY.
      Very hard to work to a DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO APPROACH as used by Centrelink.

    • I assume that you were advising Centrelink of a decrease in the value of your Assets. They are not big on amending those figures. If you had told them that you had an extra 50,000 in savings they would quickly update your files.

  2. I work part-time, so need to advise Centrelink how much I have earned each fortnight.
    I simply use the app on my phone, takes about 1 minute. So easy!

  3. That’s all very well, but it’s frustrating when my income and assets page is locked for months while a previous update is processed.
    Some updates go through immediately but others get stuck until I phone and get the update processed.

  4. I absolutely agree with the comments made by Alan & David. I have experienced much the same issues. Last year (May) I waited 5 weeks for an update to be approved and I needed to do many updates in that time. There are many examples like this. Although Hank quotes the law there is a great need for better customer education. Customers are never advised when the actual changes are made.
    E.G when did the unit prices of ASX shares change as at 20th March last?
    How often are share prices changed?
    When do unit prices of shares owned by customers change? is it when some of a particular share are sold or when more are bought?
    is it true that a customer can ask for a complete unit price update?
    Many of these matters are not embedded in any legislation so how are customers able to understand the systems and procedures in place.
    To add to this Centrelink rarely contact the client when unit prices are changed.
    In fact it is unusual for Centrelink to advise the client when they make a change of any kind other than a procedural update.
    I would like the opportunity to meet with SSRV and Centrelink to explain the many issues I have experienced and more about the frustration s that customers like myself experience.

  5. OK, Centrelink needs US to update them on eg the number of shares we own, but you can bet if we put that we have 500 less CBA shares that we actually own, then Centrelink would have no trouble ascertaining the correct number that we do own. Maybe the employees at Centrelink should get off their butts and do the hard yards, that they want applicants to do, which sometimes mean that those who do not have children or other relatives to help them, just give up after the fifth request fore information or rejection.

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