28th Jul 2018
FONT SIZE: A+ A-
Centrelink Q&A: ‘Why must I reapply for the pension?’
Author: Janelle Ward
Why must I reapply for my pension?

Chris did some part-time work and both his and his wife’s Age Pensions were cancelled. He is frustrated that he had to start the application process for both of them all over again.

•••

 

Q. Chris
I’m 70 and I do seasonal casual/on-call contract work as a lookout during the fire season. My spouse and I both received the Age Pension. We reported all income to Centrelink when it was received and for the past six years, our pensions were either reduced or removed based on my income.

Last season was a particularly dangerous and long one with me working up to 10 hours a day for 13 days. I received a letter from Centrelink stating that I had exceeded the income limit for 12 weeks and that my spouse and I would no longer receive the Age Pension, and that we would both have to reapply.

When we spoke to Centrelink and explained the situation we were told that all we needed to do was notify them that our income stream (contract) had ceased and that they would reinstate the pensions. Centrelink has now advised us that we need to reapply in full, using their difficult-to-navigate online application process.

It has now been 12 weeks since we submitted the application and we still have not heard anything. We have had to live off our savings for that time.

The questions I would like answered are:

  • If Centrelink already has all my eligibility details, why did I have to reapply?
  • Why did my spouse lose her pension when she did not earn any income?
  • Why does Centrelink not have a process that can cater for seasonal workers like myself?
  • When I reapplied, my cash assets, as advised to Centrelink, were at a particular level. They are now reduced quite significantly due to the delay by Centrelink. Does Centrelink take this into account when assessing eligibility? If not, why not?


A. Centrelink requires you to reapply so that it can be sure it has all your up-to-date details and ensure that any new rules are applied. This is frustrating when you have already given the details, but it is simply the process it applies.

You and your spouse are assessed as a couple and therefore the couples’ asset and income thresholds are applied. When you exceed these thresholds, you both lose your Age Pension payments. A couple can earn up to $304 per fortnight combined and receive full Age Pensions. A part-Age Pension cuts out when a couple’s combined income hits $3040.40 per fortnight.

Centrelink applies the Work Bonus to your income, which allows you to earn $250 per fortnight before your Age Pension is affected or you can bank it to a maximum $6500 in a year. This is how Centrelink manages seasonal employment.

You can also update the value of your cash assets at any time by logging on to your Centrelink account.

If you have a Centrelink question, send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we will do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.

RELATED ARTICLES

    Financial disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Cowboy Jim
    30th Jul 2018
    10:50am
    Heard that from other people, one reason I have always refused part time work. It is just not worth the hassle reporting income. Have a hospitality back ground and I might do some work on holidays for free accommodation and meals. I am past 70 and know how to pass the time, have never been bored.
    HarrysOpinion
    30th Jul 2018
    10:59am
    It is abysmal the way they treat some older people who do the right thing.
    Magic Touch
    30th Jul 2018
    11:05am
    Hi Cowboy Jim you are 100% right this government did not want to work even helping other because you will get this punishment, if you want to help somebody out don,t collect money use other item as return like what Cowboy Jim did.
    HarrysOpinion
    30th Jul 2018
    10:56am
    But, why is it that they have not received any response to their application for 12 weeks?
    Did they receive a receipt number when they reapplied?
    If they are registered with myGov, are there any emails received from Centrelink in myGov email section that they haven't read or found yet?
    Have they followed up the application by telephone?
    Greg
    30th Jul 2018
    12:07pm
    No response for 12 weeks - because of staff shortages for the amount of work. This government has run down the whole Centrelink department. I applied for a Low Income Health Care Card on 1 Dec '16, long story, lots of visits to office, phone calls and finally approved 22 Apr '17.

    When renewal came up this year sent in forms again, still no response in June, phoned them and they said it would get put at the top of the pile which it apparently did as we received the card a week later. The thing is I don't think they actually processed the application just sent out the new card as all my income/assets online are still the old figures from Dec '16 and they have change dramatically. Obviously the online records should reflect our current financial position but they don't. From talking to others and what I've read the department is a shambles.
    musicveg
    30th Jul 2018
    1:23pm
    They have run down Centrelink because they want to privatize it.
    Sundays
    30th Jul 2018
    4:51pm
    There are big delays in processing at the moment. It was on ABC news last week. Also have a friend who waited more than two months for the OAP until finally she told them she was in hardship
    Jan
    30th Jul 2018
    11:14am
    It took me 6 months from applying to be approved & put on Aged Pension. You need to ring complaint line 1800 132 468 & request a call back. Then you need to email Hank Jongen - General Manager of Centrelink : hank@centrelink.gov.au Within 2 days of email Hank I was approved. Don't know why we have to resort to this - Centrelink understaffed & overwhelmed.
    Good luck everyone.
    leek
    30th Jul 2018
    11:17am
    well that just blew my KPI thing of 19 weeks out of the water. I think that the waiting time is getting longer and longer. Those that complain can jump the queue.
    bluebottle
    30th Jul 2018
    11:30am
    Also took my wife and me almost 6 months (February to end July). Local MPs office spoke to their CentreLink contact and my wife's application was approved within an hour. We also asked to be put in the hardship basket.
    johnp
    30th Jul 2018
    2:26pm
    good advice Jan. it has gotten to the stage of writing to Hank Jongen the General Manager of Centrelink : hank@centrelink.gov.au
    so everyone should publicly know about this and broadcast the fact far and wide.
    leek
    30th Jul 2018
    11:14am
    Centrelink have KPI's of when a claim is to be processed by. For the DSP it is 19 weeks. It could be 19 weeks for the OAP as well. yes getting receipt numbers for anything handed in and phone conversations with Centrelink is a must.
    TREBOR
    30th Jul 2018
    2:47pm
    Does that mean that 'key PERFORMANCE indicator' in this case actually means 'kareless pen-pushing innovation'? To even consider that 19 weeks is 'performance' is quite frankly insane.

    What do they expect people to do for nineteen weeks? Take a cheap overseas holiday so they can eat cheaper?

    I know - they go on Unemployment Insurance (new name for it - nifty, ain't it?) and are put through the wringer every fortnight.

    I was laid up for three years with a bung knee, and while awaiting DVA outcome, was forced onto Unemployment Insurance - I couldn't drive and had to hobble to the damned C'Link office three times a week on average to satisfy their insane demands.
    sunnyOz
    30th Jul 2018
    12:15pm
    I have recently been in this EXACT same position. Took on a casual pat time job just as I went on the Aged Pension. Before starting, I went in to Centrelink and explained that I would be working full time for the first 2 weeks, for training. Assured me all OK. So what happens? Lodge my wage report after working the 2 full weeks, then go back to working 2 days. In the mean time, I had lodged a form with my Council for rates discount. Then received a letter from Council stating I was not entitled to any reduction, as according to their information, I was not on any Govt Pension. What?
    Then started the run around rigmarole. What an absolute joke! Finally found out they had cancelled my Pension after ONE wage notification, and without notifying me. The CL staff I talked to knew little to nothing about the work bonus - I had to tell them how to work it out. I spent hours writing letters, in the CL office, on the phone, etc.
    Finally got it sorted out - but was then asked by my work to fill in for 6 weeks whilst other person went on leave. In the end, I said no, and left the job, as after what I had been through once, I was not going to go through again. CL had stuffed it up once, I was not going to give them a second go. Throughout the whole saga, I was completely stunned at the poor MyGov site (constantly down and not available), hours waiting on the phone, totally untrained staff, having to chase them for everything... Even after lodging my final Separation Certificate, I had to chase them to get it processed. Nightmare.
    What really got me was that I was fairly cluey on the system, had stayed abreast of terms, requirements, etc. How on earth people with no computer savvy, or strong understanding of English manage, I dread to think.
    HarrysOpinion
    30th Jul 2018
    12:35pm
    That's one hell of a blood boiling and curly experience sunnyOz.
    musicveg
    30th Jul 2018
    1:28pm
    That is really wrong sunnyOZ, why do they treat people like this, their system is not efficient and they just want an excuse to privatize Centrelink I suspect.
    musicveg
    30th Jul 2018
    1:26pm
    .....and they want to encourage pensioners to do part time work? Seems like they want an excuse to kick everyone off the pension, no encouragement here for part time work or temporary work. This needs to be fixed.
    Cowboy Jim
    30th Jul 2018
    3:07pm
    Part time work in the Govt's view is obviously meant to be voluntary with no pay, we have heaps of them while the young ones are on the surf boards on New Start (3 girls and 3 boys on New Start $1800 a week living in a crappy house, not bad) Pity this option was not available for us when we were young, eh?
    TREBOR
    30th Jul 2018
    2:42pm
    What part of 'part-time casual temporary' - the Tony Abbott dream - does The Good Colonel C'Link under Fat Hank The Smiling Assassin NOT understand?
    mogo51
    30th Jul 2018
    3:15pm
    The limits relating to income and pension are not relative to the cost of living.
    To live a reasonable average a single needs $50k and couples at least $75k - these figures will give you a life but far from elaboate
    Cowboy Jim
    30th Jul 2018
    4:14pm
    As long as a working single on a full time job doesn't make $50k a year it would be a hard ask to get the Govt to agree. Other than that you are probably quite accurate. mogo51 my good wishes are with you.
    Sundays
    30th Jul 2018
    4:57pm
    Mogo51, you need a budget. A single person who owns their own home and earns $50k a year could have a very elaborate lifestyle.
    Greg
    30th Jul 2018
    5:50pm
    $75k....WTF
    If you own your home $75k would be VERY comfortable, we working on a budget of around $42k and don't want for anything.
    Kathleen
    30th Jul 2018
    6:44pm
    $75000 or $50000? Are you kidding? What does that take in, wine every night, dinner out a few times a week, an overseas holiday twice a year, what?
    People manage on half that!
    Funkee
    30th Jul 2018
    6:44pm
    Ahaa, I may have beaten you all. Like Chris, I too do seasonal work, and I also exceeded the 12 week limit (which I didn't know about, thanks Centrelink for not telling me) and had my Pension cut off. Annoyingly my work ceased just 4 days after pension was cut. Anyway I went thru the whole complicated and frustrating rigmarole of re-applying. That was January, and I still, to date, have not had my pension re-instated, so lets see,..... that's about 28 weeks now. Now the new seasonal work for this year has commenced so I hate to think what kind of fiasco I'm going to end up in if they decide to crank up my pension in the next few weeks. Honestly, I think we have become a 3rd world country in many respects, and the way this govt. treats it's senior citizens is beyond disgraceful. Being "paid" in some form other than money is not possible as I'm a truck driver for a fairly big company who would not entertain any such notion. More than a little cheesed off.
    Funkee
    30th Jul 2018
    6:46pm
    PS... I have been in to local Centrelink twice to see what the hell is going on. They just told me I'm in the system and will just have to wait. Hope I don't starve first.
    HarrysOpinion
    30th Jul 2018
    8:45pm
    Get used to some starvation Funkee because there are many OAPs on full pension who eat basic food (home brands) 6 days a week and eat nothing but toast and water on the 7th day. That's two days of starvation every fortnight.
    GrayComputing
    30th Jul 2018
    8:09pm
    It is time for all of us (that means you) to rant at our MPs and Senators daily to take action for human decency and a huge stress reduction for pensioners

    NO ASSET TEST FOR A PENSION EVER AGAIN!
    A pension is not welfare.

    Most economist say we will save taxpayers money by dropping asset testing because of the massive overheads cost in running Centrelink and the 10,000 conflicting rules.

    Hiring more Centrelink staff will only increase taxpayer’s costs for processing the creeping insane red tape monster system politicians and well paid bureaucrats have created.

    Help scrap it now. Become a hero.

    Even poorer New Zealand has a NO ASSET pension so it is cheaper and user friendly.

    Why worry that few million$ earners get it too. That is peanuts to them, not enough for a good vintage champagne.

    Do retired and retiring people really look forward and want 100++ visits to/from Centrelink and be part of 3 million waiting queues and lost calls?

    Does your MP really like being part of the system that allows this indirect abuse of the elderly?

    This abuse is actually sponsored by our government and forced down to Centrelink and borders on a criminal act.

    Why do MPs normally compassionate persons let this Centrelink abuse happen at taxpayers’ expense?

    Some opposition and independent MPs stand to lose their chance at being part of the needed government changes

    We all need to tell our MP and senators every day that these criminal asset tests for a pension must be dropped now.

    Also contact opposition and independent MPs (today) who could help us to get a fair deal on pensions

    NO ASSET TEST FOR A PENSION EVER AGAIN!
    OnlyDaughter
    5th Aug 2018
    10:50am
    Totally agree. However the LNP governments build their support base on villifying anyone receiving government-funded assistance and the Labor lot are almost as bad. How are they going to get elected to power unless they point the finger, table thump and promise to slam down on alleged rorters if there are none? My friends in the UK get a part pension and work for as long as they want without penalty.
    I feel sorry for Centrelink frontline staff or at least for the very few Centrelink staff that are left to do the job for the huge numbers that have been sent packing. Waiting times online is hours sometimes especially if MyGov is down. If you visit a Centrelink Office you will see more unoccupied desks and computers than occupied, huge numbers of people waiting for up to 5 hours to see a staff member and Centrelink staff having to manage Medicare enquiries and issues. I waited hours to sort out a Medicare problem for my Mother.
    I do think it is time that the electorate demanded an acceptable level of service and acknowledgement from these politicians that almost all people who seek government assistance are NOT bludgers and rorters and are deserving of a decent level of service as a consequence.
    Retired Politicians don't have their pensions removed if they work, so why should we.
    musicveg
    5th Aug 2018
    1:23pm
    I agree with you OnlyDaughter, Politicians should have the same treatment, we will never live in a world of total equality unless everyone gets the same treatment. It has to stop. They were able to find money for the farmers including $5 million to find Rural Financial advisers, so why not everyone else who is suffering.
    GeorgeM
    30th Jul 2018
    8:12pm
    Lots of comments above clearly justifying why we need Centrelink out of our lives, and have an Universal Pension system for all (say based on Age 65 years, and Residence of 15 years) - the majority of the good people suffering would be immediately released from this nightmare! Now we just need a political party to take this on - write to your MPs and threaten them that all retirees are going to vote them out unless they do this!
    Action needed NOW, folks!!!
    HarrysOpinion
    31st Jul 2018
    1:55am
    It took ALP 2 years (2012 - 2013) to increase the OAP by 9.97% and provide an efficient Centrelink service.

    It's taken the Coalition 4 years (2014 - 2017) to increase the OAP by 8.01% and provide an abysmal inefficient Centrelink service.

    The action all OAP should be taking is at the polling booth. It's the only way to "kick-arse".
    Jacka
    30th Jul 2018
    10:45pm
    Before you do any work either seasonal or ordinary you should be aware of how much you can earn in a certain period. You are only creating problems for yourself. Centrelink has it requirements and you need to follow them to the letter. The 12 week delay is not acceptable as they already have all your details and I would be on the phone to them every day or sitting in their office until I got an acceptable response. Regrettably you have created this problem, a mistake I trust you will not make it again. Cheers Jacka.
    Andy
    31st Jul 2018
    1:13pm
    imagine how many thousands will lose their jobs if it goes private, what the hell will happen to us then. One thing that has to happen we have to get much higher pension payments I have been waiting for 20 weeks and it looks like they are going to refuse to pay me that money, well guess will have to write Hank
    Argydubbaya
    1st Aug 2018
    2:41pm
    Beats the crap out of me when I sit there with a helper for three days each time having to go away and spend more money by asking my accountant for assistance then drive 85 k home to get a birth cert or some othe obscure piece of paper.(travelled 3 times in 3 days) I wonder why we cant have an objective system which is based on the entire amount of tax we paid over our lifetime then automatically we are sent a percentage of that amount. hardly any labour involved. I lost my pension because I failed to fill in a form 4 years ago and have been bludging off my younger wife since then. Now its time to get it back and what a load of shite. I too am 70 and paid rediculous taxes all my life, never asked for a hanout before now its their turn to give it back.
    musicveg
    1st Aug 2018
    2:49pm
    "Keep on rockin' in the free world" (Neil Young)
    MICK
    5th Aug 2018
    9:22am
    From what Australians have seen it looks more like a war on retirees. Been raging since the current lot were put into office and certainly will not stop. The family home is the next big victory planned to get more Australians off a pension. You know that because they have tried so hard to con retirees into selling the family home and living off the proceeds.
    I don't know why the retirement community is so placid or why our children do not see their inheritance is being taken off them. I guess we all get what we deserve.
    Cowboy Jim
    5th Aug 2018
    10:38am
    As I said before, Mick, once we have more renters than owners here in Australia, we shall have the family home included in the asset test, it might start with houses worth a million bucks. A lot of people in our capital cities would be affected. My humble joint might be exempt for a while, 1 bathroom, 1 garage. 30 years old!
    musicveg
    5th Aug 2018
    1:27pm
    With the Chinese buying up all the land we will all be renters soon. And it is not just new builds they are buying. A heritage listed property in my local area has been bought and has been vandalized and left to ruin, bought by the Chinese who just let it sit with no fences up for protection, and our local council does nothing about it. They are also buying up farming land and not using it.
    jayzaa
    5th Aug 2018
    10:38am
    Chris, you should ask your employer to pay you over an extended period, so spreading it out over 6 months might keep you under the threshhold
    Cowboy Jim
    5th Aug 2018
    10:41am
    jayzaa - bloody good idea. Though some employers want to clear the desk too frequently. Mine at the time did not even allow me to bank up days-in-lieu. Doing shift work I would have appreciated a week off in compensation.
    johnp
    6th Aug 2018
    3:21pm
    All the comments here (and others similar in lifechoices) need to be promulgated far and wide and broadcast such as on the TV current affairs shows
    SuziJ
    8th Aug 2018
    10:27pm
    I just hope that in just under 4.5 years they've sorted out this mess in regards to the Age Pension application. Already receiving the DSP, they have said that I 'should' receive a form in the mail around 9 weeks before I'm eligible, for me to complete & lodge. I don't know if this means that I can apply immediately to be paid from the date I'm eligible, or to lodge on the date I'm eligible.


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles