Pension pay inches up to $44.4b

The Department of Human Services’ latest annual report has revealed that $44.4 billion in Age Pension payments were made to 2.5 million Australians in the 2016-2017 financial year.

The figure was up from $43.9 billion the previous year and $41.6 billion two years ago.

The proportion of retirees receiving a full pension has grown to 62 per cent (1.55 million pensioners) from 58 per cent (1.45 million) the previous year. Fewer are receiving a part pension, 38 per cent (950,000), compared with 42 per cent (1.05 million) last year.

In other statistics published in Wednesday’s report, women made up 55 per cent and men 45 per cent of Age Pensioners and applications for the payment rose by 18,000 to 174,000, compared with a year ago.

Applications for Carer Payments and Allowances were down by 16,000 to 219,000.

centrelink tables

Other Centrelink applications that fell on the previous year were: Disability Support Pensions (97,000), Mobility Allowance (10,000), Pensioner Education Supplement (43,000), and Widow Allowance (3000).

However, applications for the Seniors Health Card more than trebled from 40,000 to 133,000.

The department said it had also received more than 50,000 extra complaints last financial year for a total of 204,583. While most of these are believed to be related to Newstart, the department was not able to answer a YourLifeChoices query yesterday about how many of the complaints related to the Age Pension. 

The department said among the top complaints was “waiting too long for an application to be processed”. It added that while most complaints were resolved in 35 days, “Age Pension claims generally take longer to process, as the department has to assess often complex income and asset information”.

The department said it also fielded 18,194 complaints about Medicare services, 74 per cent of which were resolved within 10 working days.

“People are taking advantage of the department’s online feedback form which was implemented to make it easier for them to provide feedback at a time that suits them,” the report said.

“This has contributed to the rise in complaints recorded.

“The expanding use of social media has increased the awareness of the department’s services. Some of this has also translated into higher levels of complaints.”

It wasn’t all brickbats, however, with the department receiving 9744 compliments for the year compared with 6620 in the previous year.

Have you ever received bad service from Centrelink or Medicare and , if so, what was the issue? Did you make a formal complaint? Have your complaints to the Department of Human Services ever been handled to your satisfaction?

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Written by Olga Galacho

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