Centrelink help

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If you are having trouble contacting Centrelink[edit]

This is an alternative method of getting an intention to claim accepted:

1. Do you have a CRN (Centrelink Reference Number)? If you have ever received a payment such as Child Endowment, Family Payment, Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit, an income support payment or a health care card you will have a CRN. See if you can find the old card, or an old letter from Centrelink, it will have your CRN on it. Your CRN will look like this "200 000 000X". If you can't find a CRN, don't worry, you can put in an intention to claim without it.

2. Write a letter to Centrelink. Try to do it on a word processer and print it out (keep a copy), but if you can't do this, write it by hand in clear block letters on A4 lined paper, ensuring that the letters do not overlap (keep a copy - if you can't get to a copier, write it out again for your own records).

3. Your letter should take this format:

  • Date
  • Family Name: Xxxxxxxx (type 'Family Name:' then your family name)
  • Given Names: Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxx
  • Your home address
  • Your postal address if it is different
  • Home phone number (if you have one)
  • Mobile phone number
  • Your date of birth in this format "Date of Birth: 01 Jan 1900" (use your actual date of birth)
  • CRN: xxx xxx xxxX (use your actual CRN. If you don't have a CRN, leave this out - Centrelink will find your CRN, or create one from the information above)
  • Your gender (Centrelink likes Male/Female)
  • Dear Centrelink
  • I wish to lodge an intention to claim JobSeeker Payment (if you are under 22, or under 25 and studying full-time, it will be Youth Allowance). You can also put other payment types here, such as Austudy, Parenting Payment, Age Pension, or Farm Household Allowance.
  • Carer Payment and Disability Support Pension (If you are under 66 you may be better off claiming JobSeeker Allowance due to the Coronavirus Supplement of $550.00 p.f. from 27 April 20 for 6 months. When the Coronavirus Supplement is due to end, then claim the other payment).
  • (If you have been known by other names) Maiden name: "Xxxxxx", Former Married Name "Xxxxxx", Birth Name "Xxxxx", etc.
  • If you have a partner: Their full name, including middle name if they have one
  • Partner's date of birth.
  • If your partner has been known by other names: Maiden name: "Xxxxxx", Former Married Name "Xxxxxx", Birth Name "Xxxxx", etc.
  • Your partner's gender (Centrelink likes Male/Female, same-sex relationships are accepted)
  • The relationship start date, this will be the date you were married, or the date you started living together as a couple.
  • If your partner also wants to claim a payment, then they should do their own separate letter. Send both letters together.
  • I last worked on: (date you last worked)
  • Would you please contact me to allow me to lodge a claim for JobSeeker Payment (or whichever other payment you are claiming).
  • (If you need an interpreter, put): I need an interpreter, then your preferred spoken language, and your preferred written language.
  • (If you need someone to help you with Centrelink, put their details here, and write): I give permission for Centrelink to talk to my son/daughter/other relative, etc., about my Centrelink claim/payments. Their name, address, date of birth, and contact number.
  • Yours Sincerely
  • (your signature, ensure you sign the letter)
  • Your name

4. Provide the following documentation:

  • A copy of your drivers licence or proof of age card (students can provide a copy of their student card)
  • A copy of your most recent bank statement showing: BSB, Account number, Name, Balance, and date (if there is more than one bank account, include all copies of all bank statements, including your partner's accounts)

5. Send the letter to (no stamp is needed):

  • Centrelink
  • Reply Paid 7800
  • Canberra BC ACT 2610

The letter and documents can instead be faxed to (ensure that the fax goes through):

  • Fax: 1300 786 102

Under normal processing you then have 14 days to lodge a formal claim. Under special circumstances (which is what we are currently experiencing) you have 13 weeks to lodge a formal claim.

6. Centrelink will ring you. The call will come from a blocked number. Answer the call. Centrelink will ask you for your name, address, date of birth, and your CRN if you have one, and advise you that the call is recorded. If you don't have your CRN, ask Centrelink to tell you the number during the call, write it down, and keep it. If your MyGov account is not linked to Centrelink, get a linking code, and use it ASAP. Get a receipt number for the call, and write it down.

Important: If you have not heard from Centrelink within 13 weeks, it is important that you contact Centrelink about your claim before the 13 weeks expires.

Hardship: If you have less than one fortnight's payment in available funds (Single $565.00, Couple $1024.00), you are in hardship. Available funds includes all bank accounts, all other monetary investments, all shares and managed investments, and your superannuation if you are over Age Pension age). Contact Centrelink on 132850 at 8:00 a.m. (or your payment line if it is not JobSeeker payment) and ask them to pay you as you are in 'hardship'. If you can't get through try 1800 132468. Under the hardship provisions you should receive a payment within 14 days. If you have not received a payment, ring 1800 132468. If you can't get through on the phone, but you have MyGov access, write a letter and upload it on MyGov as a Centrelink form SA233. If you don't have MyGov access, fax or post the letter to Centrelink as per point 5 above. Provide copies of your bank statements showing total balances less than the amounts above.

End of alternative method of getting an intention to claim accepted


What is Centrelink

Centrelink is an agency of the Australian Department of Services Australia. Centrelink delivers Australian Government welfare payments.

Payments & cards administered

For payments and concession cards administered, Google 'A guide to Australian Government payments'. The PDF file is a booklet that is issued every 3 months, with information on qualification criteria, and payment rates.


The aim of this wikibook is to assist customers or claimants, and their representatives, to deal with Centrelink. This wikibook is written from a neutral point of view and is not intended to be a criticism of Centrelink. However Centrelink is difficult to contact, often slow to make decisions or process payments, sometimes makes errors which result in under-payments or rejections of claims, and sometimes raises over-payments incorrectly. Many Centrelink staff are inexperienced, which can lead to mistakes and poor decisions, and failure to follow proper procedures. These are facts, not opinions.

Disclaimer: The aim of this Wikibook is to give the reader sufficient knowledge to deal with Centrelink effectively. It is intended as general advice in relation to dealing with Centrelink and Social Security entitlements and assessments. It is not intended as legal advice, accounting advice, taxation advice, or financial advice. Please engage and consult with the relevant professional(s) before making any changes to your income, assets, or superannuation, if you are considering gifting large amounts, if you are entering aged care, or entering into the Pension Loans Scheme, etc. The writer takes no responsibility for anything that is done, or not done, in relation to the information provided.

The Wikibook will explain to you what to do at each point of your dealings, and what to do if you do not get the result you believe is correct.

Professional advice

If you are considering retirement, changing your income or assets, accessing your superannuation, selling your home, entering aged care, considering the Pension Loans Scheme, or need more help with your Centrelink entitlement, it is recommended that you speak to a financial adviser. Some financial advisers provide assistance with Centrelink as part of their service.

CRN (Centrelink Reference Number or Customer Reference Number)

This is an important number to have and remember if you are dealing with Centrelink. If you get a payment or concession card, it will be on your card below your name & address, and on every letter Centrelink sends to you. The CRN is issued to you when you are first on Centrelink's records. For most people this will be when you are born, and your mother/primary caregiver claims the Family Payment. Your CRN will remain the same all your life. Centrelink will use this number as part of your identification for every contact with them.

Tax File Number (TFN)

This is an important number to have when you first start dealing with Centrelink. It is issued by the Australian Tax Office. You will only need to provide it to Centrelink once. Centrelink will keep it on their records forever, but will not tell you what it is. If you have a partner, they must also have a TFN, and you must provide their TFN to Centrelink, even if they are not claiming a payment. If you partner is not an Australian resident, they still must have a TFN for Centrelink, even if they have no Australian income.

If you do not have a TFN, Google 'Tax File Number' for how to apply. Parents, help your child get a TFN by the time they are 14 so that they can open a bank account, work, and/or claim a Centrelink payment or concession card.

Bank account

You will need an Australian bank account for your Centrelink payment to be paid into. The account must have your name on it, including a joint account. Your Centrelink payment cannot be paid into your partner's account unless it is a joint account with you.

Keeping records

  • Be very diligent in keeping absolutely accurate permanent records of all contact with Centrelink.
  • Your record must be permanent. If you are keeping electronic records, ensure you have a back-up or hard-copy.
  • It is recommended that you keep a paper file of all your records, in date order. Use a two-hole punch, and keep your papers in a 2 ring binder, or a file folder with a two pin paper fastener. This is so that you can access any record quickly, tab important records, and refer to your records easily if and when you are talking to Centrelink on the phone.
  • Keep all records forever. When you die, your executor can destroy the records. The reason for keeping records forever is that Centrelink can raise an over-payment. There is no limit on how far back Centrelink can go. If you have records, you can dispute (appeal) the over-payment.
  • Keep records in date order. Centrelink is fixated on dates. The Social Security legislation almost always revolves around dates and time-frames.
  • If you are using an electronic file system, for example a word processor document of each contact, start the file name with the date, in reverse order, that is, year, month, day. For example, '2020-01-01 online claim for Age Pension'. When you access your Centrelink contact folder, the computer will have the files sorted into date order automatically. The dates of each contact are so important that you don't want the computer sorting your files any other way. If you receive two different payments from Centrelink, you may want to have separate folders for each payment, e.g. an income support payment, and a family payment.
  • Keep copies of all documents, such as screen shots, Centrelink income and assets screens, bank statements, payslips, tax returns, shares, managed investments, superannuation statements, income stream Centrelink schedules, lease, settlement statement for sales of any assets. If an asset is sold or an account is closed, keep the document showing the sale price or final payout, and where the funds went to (bank statements). Important Centrelink letters are ones that advise you of the grant or rejection of your claim, any changes in rate of payment, any cancellation, and any over-payment.
  • If you are reporting income fortnightly, keep a record of the date, employer, and gross income reported for every fortnight.

How to contact Centrelink

  1. Online, using your MyGov account to make the change.
  2. If you can't do something on MyGov, you can do a written letter to Centrelink and upload it on your MyGov account. For example, if you are not reporting fortnightly, and your regular earnings have increased. Put your name and CRN (Customer Reference Number) first, then the type of payment you are receiving, or if it is a new claim, then what you have to tell Centrelink.
  3. If you can't do it online, advise by telephone. Search Google 'Centrelink contact us' for a list of contact numbers. Ring at 8:00 am (the later you leave it, the busier the phone lines get, to the point where not only will you have to wait a long time to get through, but you may get the engaged signal, or just a recorded message). Centrelink will want to know you name, CRN, date of birth, address, and sometimes some other personal detail, such as your phone number. Do this in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Sit at a table or desk. Have a notepad and pen, and write down everything you say, and everything Centrelink says. Get them to repeat the words if they go too fast. If they use an acronym, e.g. DSP, get them to explain it, e.g. Disability Support Pension. Write it down verbatum (exactly what they say). Always get a receipt number (6 digits) before the call ends, and write it down. If you are using an electronic method of recording, after the call ends, write your word processor document with everything that was said. Do this immediately so that nothing is forgotten. If the person on the phone can not answer your question, ask if someone can ring you back. This may be someone from the processing team for a new claim, or it may be a 'subject matter expert' or a 'senior prac.'
  4. If you are not satisfied with what you are told on the phone, ring the complaints line - 1800 132468. Do not ring the complaints line first, ring your payment line, then only ring the complaints line if you are not satisfied. The complaints line is usually staffed by experienced staff who are quite helpful. If it is not a new claim, they may be able to fix your issue immediately. Get a receipt number (6 digits). If they can't fix it, you can lodge a complaint. Complaints sometimes get your case a higher level of priority. If you have available funds less than 2 weeks payment, you should be given a priority. The complaints people can put your case as a level 1 priority, which is usually addressed within 7 days. If it is not done after 7 days, then ring them again, and they can put your case to a level 2 priority. Again it is usually address within 7 days. Level 2 is the highest priority through the complaints line. Get a complaint number (10 digits).
  5. Do not go into a Centrelink office. There are very limited times to ever go into a Centrelink office, the only time for most people is to show your ID (proof of identity). You may have to go in for an interview for Youth Allowance, Jobseeker (Newstart) Allowance, or Disability Support Pension, but only if Centrelink requests it, and gives you a date and time. You may need to go in to get a interim voucher for a Health Care Card. You may have to go in to see a social worker for personal issues, but ring first to get an appointment. Otherwise you are wasting your time going into Centrelink. The person you see will not be making the decision. You will not be able to talk to the person making the decision, and they will most probably be in another city. Most things can be resolved over the phone, or on the complaints line (1800 132468) - see later in this Wikibook for further information.

Providing your ID to Centrelink

*** Interim ID measures during the Coronavirus meltdown: Ring Centrelink on 132850 at 8:00 am. You need one document e.g. current drivers licence. Centrelink will take the licence number and expiry date over the phone, and confirm the details electronically. This is accepted for 6 months, then you must provide ID as below ... ***

You must provide your ID in person at a Centrelink office. If possible, don't go on a Monday or the day after a public holiday. Centrelink offices are usually less busy after 2:00 p.m. Three documents are required. Do your very best to get these three documents before you go into Centrelink. Google 'Centrelink ID' if you want more information on other acceptable documents: 1 Full Australian birth certificate or passport within 3 years after the expiry date 2 Drivers Licence or Proof of Age Card (under 18 only can use a student card) 3 Bank card Ensure that your ID is 'confirmed'. Get a receipt # and write it down.

Advising Centrelink within 14 days

Certain changes must be advised to Centrelink within 14 days, if the change is not advised, and it affects your entitlement, then Centrelink may raise an over-payment:

  • Change of address
  • Change of rent
  • Changes in income or assets
  • When your tax return is completed if Centrelink is using your tax return to assess your payment
  • If you open a new account or investment
  • If you buy or sell an asset, such as a car or house, even if it is your home
  • If you sell your home, you must tell Centrelink within 14 days of when the money is deposited into your bank account
  • If you receive an inheritance, within 14 days of when the money is deposited into your bank account or the inheritance is transferred into your name
  • If you leave Australia, even if it is only temporary
  • If your relationship status changes (living together or not)
  • If you are separated indefinitely from your partner due to ill health
  • If a child enters or leaves your care permanently
  • If you are imprisoned or committed to a psychiatric facility
  • If you make a gift of $1000 or more
  • If you lend money to someone (large loans, not lunch money)
  • Changes to care arrangements (if you get Carer Payment or Carer Allowance)
  • If you cease full-time study (Youth Allowance, Austudy or Abstudy)
  • If somebody dies
  • If you receive compensation, or have an incident for which you can claim compensation (7 days)

You can advise of the change:

  • on MyGov.
  • by phone, ensure that you get a receipt number.
  • by mail: Centrelink, Reply Paid 7800, Canberra BC ACT 2610 (no stamp required). Keep a copy.
  • by fax 1300 786 102 - ensure the fax goes through.
  • by going into a Centrelink office. Don't do this - see point 5 under 'How to contact Centrelink' above, but if you do, ensure you get a receipt number, and good luck.

Either of the first two methods are recommended. MyGov changes are immediate, as is a documents uploaded on your MyGov account, even if Centrelink takes more than 14 days to process the change. A document uploaded on MyGov cannot get lost, provided it goes through & you get a receipt number. With phone contact it is important to get a receipt number. Mail can take days to arrive, and if it is outside the 14 day limit, or gets lost, you may get an over-payment. Fax is usually OK if it goes through, although you have to rely on the human element to upload it onto your Centrelink record.

...Under construction: The following is an outline of what will be included when this wikibook is completed ...

Legislation - Policy - Procedures

Finding information on Google

This wikibook is a guide, not a policy document. Throughout this wikibook basic information will be given on many issues of legislation (Social Security law), Government policy, and Centrelink procedures. Further information is available online. This wikibook is not recognised by Centrelink for how things should be done. For any conversation with Centrelink about how entitlements should be assessed, you must refer to the correct source, not this wikibook.

The hierarchy is as follows:

  1. Legislation - the acts of parliament, such as the Social Security Act (SS Act), and the Social Security (Administration) Act (SSA Act). This is the law that sets out what payments are to be made, payment rates, and how entitlements are assessed.
  2. Government policy, as contained in the Social Security Guide. This is the policy that it more readable, and goes into more detail about how the legislation is to be applied. The policy can be updated and changed by Australian Government departments, without changing the legislation. The policy is the responsibility of the Government department that funds the payment (not Centrelink or Services Australia).
  3. Government advice on what payments and services are available, and information on how entitlements are calculated. This is available on the Services Australia website.
  4. Centrelink's internal procedural guide, called the Operational Blueprint, or 'OB'. This tells Centrelink staff how to process claims and payments, and what documents and verification they have to collect. It should be consistent with the legislation and Government policy, but sometimes it is not. Centrelink will not release any part of this document, but you can ask them to read the relevant part to you, and write down what they say.

Services Australia website

This is a good overall guide in plain English. Use Google to search this site 'Centrelink', then the payment & what you want to know. You are looking for this website in your search results: www.servicesaustralia.gov.au or www.humanservices.gov.au

Social Security Guide

The policy is contained in the Social Security Guide (not the Services Australia website). Google 'Social Security Guide' followed by words that describe your situation, e.g. 'waive debt'. You are looking for this website: https://guides.dss.gov.au/guide-social-security-law

Structure:

The Guide is divided into 11 parts as explained in the following table:

Part Name What is Covered
1 Key Terms & Principles Terms used in the administration of payments/benefits, descriptions of benefits & principles surrounding the social security law.
2 Claim Verification Information on the verification of claims for social security payments/benefits.
3 Qualification & Payability What characteristics will qualify an individual for a payment/benefit, along with other assessment information, e.g. commencement dates, notifiable events and payability issues.
4 Income & Assets Which payments/benefits have income/assets testing, what the limits are for them, and what constitutes income and assets.
5 Payment Rates Current and some historic rates of payment, examples of payment calculations, information on taxation issues and advance payments.
6 Reviews, debts & payment recovery Various review mechanisms, all about overpayments, and what happens when a claimant receives compensation.
7 Portability & comparable foreign payment (CFP) Conditions for payment outside Australia, and a brief explanation of CFP provisions.
8 Administration Act Provisions Guidance on:
  • the structure and content of the SS(Admin)Act,
  • discretionary decision making under the SS(Admin)Act, and
  • certain procedural requirements for the implementation of the SS(Admin)Act.
9 Visas, entitlements & assurances of support Information about visas issued by the Department of Home Affairs, entitlement to social security payments and the AoS scheme.
10 Australian Social Security Agreements Information about Australia's social security agreements with other countries.
11 Income Management Information about income management and its application.

Social Security Act (SS Act)

The SS Act sets out the payments that are available, what the qualifications are, and how the payments are calculated. It is difficult to read, definitions are contained in many different sections and can change from section to section, and there is no logical way to follow how it progresses from section to section. Basically it jumps all over the place. It is useful for the experienced user to clarify the qualifications for a particular payment, or exactly how the payment is assessed where the policy does not cover the situation.

Social Security (Administration) Act (SSA Act)

The SSA Act sets out how the payments and concession cards are to be assessed. Most of the time there is no need to refer to this act. It can be useful where Centrelink has not followed legislated procedures, such as assessing payments within a certain time-frame, or following governemt policy.

MyGov

Using a computer: If you are reading this online, you can use MyGov. MyGov is an online way of accessing Australian Government Services, such as Centrelink, Australian JobSearch, and My Aged Care. MyGov has a number of security features that the Australian Government considers is sufficient for customers to access services and provide information online. Centrelink will never use emails, as it considers that there is insufficient security. This wikibook is written from the point of view of access through a computer.

If at all possible, it is recommended that you use MyGov for all (or as much as possible) of your dealings with Centrelink. For some people this will be possible. You will find it easier than telephoning, and much better than wasting time standing in line at a Centrelink office. Centrelink relies heavily on documents to verify changes, and you can upload the document(s) at the end of your session, or at a later time if you have to obtain a document. Have the documents scanned and labelled so they are ready to upload, as MyGov will time out after 10 minutes with no activity.

  • Information updated online is received by Centrelink immediately, even if it is not processed automatically and needs to be looked at by a customer service officer.
  • If you change anything on MyGov, before you accept the declaration, copy & paste the changes into a word processing document and save it, because this information will disappear once you accept the declaration. Then copy the acceptance of the information including the receipt number and paste this into your word processing document.
  • If the change is not automatically accepted, you will get a message that staff have to review the information. If you get this message, it is best to upload a document to verify the changes, such as bank statements, superannuation statement, Centrelink schedule, and/or purchase or sale receipt.
  • Uploaded documents (provided you get a receipt number) are received immediately, cannot get lost, and are automatically & permanently stored on your Centrelink record. If possible, use the Centrelink form number to upload documents.
  • The form number can be found in the bottom left corner of all Centrelink forms. Search Google 'Centrelink forms' to see a full list of forms and their codes, and to download forms.
    • SU1: Employment Separation Certificate
    • SU415: Centrelink Medical Certificate, search Google 'Centrelink Medical Certificate' for this form
    • SS313: Nominee form
    • SA330: Centrelink Schedule (even though the schedule did not originate from Centrelink and will not have SA330 on it)
    • SS351: Review of a Decision
    • SU462: Voluntary Work Verification
    • SA457: Aged Care (not receiving an income support payment such as Age Pension)
  • Keep a permanent record of every change you make on your MyGov account. Documents that you have uploaded can be retrieved later by going to Documents and Appointments, Documents, View upload history. It is recommended that you keep your own copy/document, rather than relying on Centrelink's copy, and your ability to retrieve it.

Setting up a MyGov account

You will need an email address. It is recommended that you have an email address that will endure it you change or leave your education institution, your job, your internet provider, your address, leave your parent's home, etc. Centrelink likes you to use your mobile phone to log onto MyGov, by receiving a 6 digit PIN to your phone each tie you log on. This provides a high level of security. It is possible to set up MyGov without using this feature, and just using your password, then answering one of your secret questions. You might do this if you set up a MyGov account for a family member where more than one person may access it, or if it is an additional account to your own MyGov account, but you access it for a family member who is not computer literate. Google 'MyGov help' for help with MyGov.

Linking code

You can get a linking code from Centrelink to link Centrelink to your MyGov account. Ring your Centrelink payment line (Google ' Centrelink contact us' for the number) at 8:00 a.m. They will need to verify your identity, and will ask for additional information that only you are likely to have, such as details from your drivers licence, or Medicare card. Use the linking code ASAP as it will expire after 72 hours.

MyGov may be slightly different if accessed through a mobile device, or if you use the Centrelink app. If you are expert at these, please feel free to edit this wikibook to help these users by adding information here:

Nominee

Person Permitted to Enquire This allows Centrelink to talk to you and give you information about the customer, but you cannot make changes. This is of little use. You can find out what payment the customer is receiving, their rate, when their next payment is due, income and assets assessed, reason for rejection or cancellation, overpayments, etc. Person Permitted to Enquire may be useful if you are merely providing advice to the customer, rather than helping them with their Centrelink payment.

Correspondence nominee This is a very useful role. You may be taking this on for:

  • an aged parent/family member, particularly if they are not computer literate,
  • your child, if they are inexperienced and want you to be nominee,
  • a family member who has an intellectual disability,
  • someone for whom you are Power of Attorney

You can enquire about, and do, anything that the customer can do with Centrelink (with some limited exceptions, e.g. Centrelink may not give you a PIN unless the customer is present). You are also responsible for advising Centrelink of changes within the 14 day period.

Payment nominee

If you are payment nominee then the Centrelink payment will go into your bank account. There would be limited circumstances where you would need to be payment nominee, e.g. if the person was unable to operate a bank account, or if there is a court order, or a guardianship order. Normally this type of situation can be managed by a Power of Attorney arrangement instead. If you become payment nominee, you must keep records, and only use the money for the benefit of the Centrelink customer. Centrelink can ask you for your records.

You can become both correspondence nominee & payment nominee.

Nominee form SS313

Google 'Centrelink SS313' Complete the form, and ensure both you and the customer sign it. If they are unable to sign you must provide a copy of the Power of Attorney (POA) or court order. Upload the form (and POA) on their MyGov account if they have one, or Fax the form (and POA) to: 1300 786102 Post the form (and a copy of the POA) to: Centrelink Reply Paid 7800 Canberra BC ACT 2610 If you have not provided your ID to Centrelink, then you will need to take your ID, and the nominee form, personally to Centrelink. If possible, don't go on a Monday or the day after a public holiday. Centrelink offices are usually less busy after 2:00 p.m.

If the nominee access does not appear on your MyGov account in a few days, ring their payment line at 8:00 am, using their CRN & detais. Tell Centrelink who you are and that you have applied to become nominee. If Centrelink have the form they will put you on as nominee. If there is a previous nominee it can prevent you being nominee. Centrelink will not give you any information if there is a previous nominee, although they may treat you as a person permitted to enquire.

A nominee arrangement can be removed at the request of either party, unless there is a court order.

Claiming a payment or card

Providing your ID

You must provide your ID in person at a Centrelink office. If possible, don't go on a Monday or the day after a public holiday. Centrelink offices are usually less busy after 2:00 p.m. Three documents are required. Do your very best to get these three documents before you go into Centrelink. Google 'Centrelink ID' if you want more information on other acceptable documents: 1 Full Australian birth certificate or passport within 3 years after the expiry date 2 Drivers Licence or Proof of Age Card (under 18 only can use a student card) 3 Bank card Ensure that your ID is 'confirmed'. Get a receipt # and write it down.

Getting all your documents, and scanning them.

Once your ID is confirmed, you are ready to claim your payment or card.

You must have an Australian Tax File Number.

You must have a bank account to receive a payment.

Bank accounts: Ensure you have an up to date bank statement. Bank statements must show: Your name, BSB, Account #, Balance, and date. If you get a hard copy bank statement regularly, it will have all the information on it. If you do online banking, look for an 'E-statement'. For some payments the bank statement must show the last 3 months, and must go up to the day you claim, e.g. Jobseeker Allowance. This may be comprised of a bank statement, and a transaction summary that shows less information, but has more recent transactions up to the date of claim. For other payments (most pensions) a bank statement within a week or the end of the previous month may be accepted.

Cash: Cash is ONLY recorded if you hold a large amount on an ongoing basis. Your normal weekly expenditure is not assessed. You do not have to record small amounts that you have for weekly expenditure.

Other assets: Generally, other assets do not need documentary verification, e.g. home contents, and motor vehicles. Assets tested pensions, or if you have a lot of assets: For home contents estimate $1000 for a small home, $2000 for a large home & shed, plus the fire-sale value of any antiques, artworks, collections, or valuable jewellery. If you are unsure of the value of a motor vehicle, google 'RedBook', and look up the current value.

For most other income and assets you will need documentary verification. There are no short cuts, except as interim measures. You will eventually have to provide proper documentation to have your claim granted. Generally the requirements are:

Income streams, annuities, allocated pension, defined benefit pensions (PSS, CSS, State Super pensions): You must provide a 'Centrelink schedule'. This is issued by the income stream provided, and they will normally give it to you when your income stream commences, and often annually. If you have online access you may be able to download it yourself. Otherwise ring them, and ask for a 'Centrelink schedule', they will know what you mean. Keep this document, upload it, or send or give Centrelink a copy.

Real estate: Land rates notice, it must show the Lot & DP or SP number. Your home is exempt, unless it is more than 2 hectares, used for business, or on more than one title. If so, you will need to complete and upload a Mod R - google 'Centrelink Mod R'. If it is a farm you will need to provide details of the property and improvememts. If you have a valuation or appraisal by an agent, also upload that, even if it is old. If you receive income from the property, you will need to upload your most recent tax return (this is the multi-page form that you or your accountant lodges with the tax office), including profit & loss statement, and depreciation schedule.

Business: You will need to upload your most recent tax return (this is the multi-page form that you or your accountant lodges with the tax office), business or partnership tax return if there is a separate tax return, including profit & loss statement, balance sheet, and depreciation schedule. If you have livestock or farming plant, you will need to provide an estimate of the market values. If there is more than one business, you will need to complete and upload a Mod F for each business google 'Centrelink Mod F'.

Gifting: Normally no documents are needed, unless the gift was real estate, a business, private company, private trust, a life interest, or if there was a contract or deed of family arrangement.

Managed investment & superannuation for people who are (or will be) Age Pension age: annual most recent 30 Jun statement. This will show the fund, owner, member number, and the number and type of units.

Shares: a recent share statement showing the share-holder's name, the company, the number and type of shares held. Dividend statements are usually issued every 6 months.

Loans to other people: Many loans are verbal agreements so there is no documentation. If Centrelink insists on documentation for a loan, do a written statement setting out: your name, address, CRN, the type of payment you are claiming or receiving, that there is no written loan agreement, the date of the loan, the amount, who it was loaned to, if there are any repayments to be made, either as regular repayments, or as a lump sum at the end, and if there is any interest paid or accruing. Sign & date it. It does not have to be a Statutory Declaration - there is no policy requiring a stat. dec.

Employment: Your two most recent payslips.

Ceased employment: Separation Certificate. If you are claiming Jobseeker Allowance, you must provide a separation certificate for all jobs that you have left in the last 12 months.

Studying full-time: transcript for past study, plus proof of enrolment in an approved course.

Jobseeker Payment

  • At the end of your claim you are required to select a time for a telephone interview. This will come from a private number. It is important that you take the call, or your claim may be rejected.
  • Centrelink will refer you to an Employment Services Provider. It is important that you attend this interview, or your claim may be rejected.

Coronavirus Supplement

From 27 April 2020 for 6 months, some payments will receive a Coronavirus Supplement of $550.00 p.f. No claim is needed. Payments affected:

  • Jobseeker Payment
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Youth Allowance for jobseekers and students
  • Parenting Payment Partnered
  • Parenting Payment Single
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Austudy
  • ABSTUDY

WP

LAWP

IMP

Lump sums

Compensation, including preclusion periods

Downloading Centrelink forms

Search Google 'Centrelink forms' to see an almost full list of forms and their codes, and to download forms. The Centrelink Medical Certificate does not appear in this list, search Google 'Centrelink Medical Certificate' for this form, SU415.

Completing the form online

Following up your claim

Don't let Centrelink tell you it has been too long and you have to reclaim. This is not true. It is a furphy that is used by lazy, ignorant, or inexperienced staff who don't know the rules, and don't know how claims are supposed to be assessed. You claim has to be assessed, and you have to be advised of the outcome, in writing. If it has been too long, ring the complaints line 1800 132468, early in the morning (8:00 am). If you reclaim, you are likely to miss out on any payment from your 'old' claim. The exception to this is if you have a formal appeal lodged for the old claim, and your situation has changed so that a new claim may be processed, e.g. your old claim was rejected, you appealed the rejection based on asset values, you sold the asset, you now reclaim without the asset.

Check Centrelink's assessment

Print or copy income & assets assessment

Fortnightly reporting


If your claim is rejected

Don't panic, you can provide any documents requested, and ask for the decision to be reviewed. You have 13 weeks from the date on the rejection letter to do this, but the sooner the better. Ensure you get a receipt number for any contact, and ensure that you make it clear that you want the decision reviewed. Also ensure that you provide any forms or documents requested promptly, and keep you own copy.

Homeownership

Caravans, motor-homes, boats, site & mooring fees, and RA.

Extended Curtilage

Life interests in home

Granny-flat right

Assets test

Self assessment of other assets

Assets tested pensions, or if you have a lot of assets: For home contents estimate $1000 for a small home, $2000 for a large home & shed, plus the fire-sale value of any antiques, artworks, collections, or valuable jewellery. Never use the insured value, Centrelink only assesses market value - that is, what you could reasonably sell it for. Clothing is generally worth nothing. Appliances and furniture are only worth second-hand value, which may be a few hundred dollars, even if you paid thousands for the item. If you are unsure of the value of a motor vehicle, google 'RedBook', and look up the current value.

Pensions

See if you are assets tested: In MyGov, go to 'Manage income & assets'. At the top it will say "You are assessed under the income/assets test." If you are assets-tested keep a very close eye on how Centrelink assesses your assets, and update your assets if values or markets fall.

It will then list all your income & assets. Exception: 'continuing income' is not shown, you will have to ring Centrelink to find out how much is assessed, and to change the amount. Continuing income is recorded where a person or their partner works, and earns the same amount each week or fortnight. For pensions, you do not need to report fortnightly where the only earnings are a regular amount. You will need to telephone Centrelink to set this up for you. Centrelink may require verification; e.g. two payslips showing the same amount.

Annuities, Income streams and pensions: Allocated pensions are listed here.

Real Estate and Business: You can change the income, but not the asset amount.

Compensation income: $ for $ deduction.

Foreign Pensions: Exchange rate is updated automatically every month.

Other Government payments

Gifting: Gifting under $1000 does not need to be recorded or advised to Centrelink. Gifting of $1000 or more should be recorded even if you are under the $10,000 allowable gifting amount. You can add gifting, but you can't remove or alter it. It will automatically be deleted 5 years after the date of the gift. If it is incorrect, or the date recorded is incorrect, you will need to contact Centrelink to have it corrected. Centrelink may ask for documentary verification. If you have a document, e.g. a bank statement, transfer, or settlement statement, upload this on your MyGov.

Managed investments and superannuation: Mortgage funds such as La Trobe will appear here. Superannuation in the accumulation phase is not assessed if the person who owns it is under Age Pension age. If they access any of it, the amount accessed is assessed. Check carefully to ensure Centrelink have the superannuation recorded against the correct person if one of you is under Age Pension age. Centrelink automatically reassesses your shares and unitised managed investments on 20 March & 20 September every year. If the share-market falls, when it bottoms out, contact Centrelink and ask to have your shares and managed investments updated to current values.

Private Trusts and Companies

Savings: This includes bank accounts, loans (if you have loaned money to other people), and cash. Loans to a private company or private trust cannot be changed online. You will need to upload a document to verify the change in the loan balance, e.g. the trust or company balance sheet (this is normally done on an annual basis from the tax returns).

Shares: Centrelink automatically reassesses your shares and unitised managed investments on 20 March & 20 September every year. If you change the number of shares for any shareholding, or add a shareholding, then all of your shares will be reassessed to current (1-2 weeks old) values. If the share-market falls, when it bottoms out, contact Centrelink and ask to have your shares and managed investments updated to current values.

Other Assets: Home contents, motor vehicles, motor cycles, caravans, boats, trailers. Record these only if they are registered. If they are unregistered, then they have little value and will just be part of your home contents. If your pension is assets-tested, use MyGov to regularly (say every 6 months) reduce the value of your other assets, e.g. motor vehicles.

Other income: Earnings can appear here if you are reporting. The last amount reported will remain here, but it was only assessed for the fortnight in which it was reported, and is not assessed until an amount is reported again.

Optimising rate

Generally, your pension rate will be optimised when you are assessed under the income test, rather than the assets test.

Couples

Singles

Switch from income-assets test

Allowances

Assets hardship

Income Test


Deeming


Gifting & Deprivation

Gifting assets

Deprivation

Financial investments

Cash & bullion

Bank accounts

Loans

Shares (financial investments)

DRP

IAG

COL

Managed Investments, debs etc

Superannuation

Downsizer contribution From 1 July 2018, if you are 65 years old or older and meet the eligibility requirements, you may be able to choose to make a downsizer contribution into your superannuation of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of selling your home. Please refer to the Australia Tax Office website for more information, and get profession financial advice before taking any action.

Income Streams

Annuities

Earnings


Working Credit


Work Bonus



Lump sums


Compensation

Direct deduction

Income

Lump sums

Preclusion periods

Tax Return not Tax Assessment Notice

Real estate

Indexed values

Interim profit & loss

Encumbrances

Sole Traders

Employee/independent contractor

Hobby business

Interim profit & loss

Not BAS

Partnerships

Private Companies

Private Trusts

Private unit trusts

Primary production aggregation

Deceased estates & testamentary trusts

Life interest in home

Life interest in income

Forgone wages

Pension Bonus Scheme

Home care

ACAT

Contacting Centrelink

Aged care

ACAT

ACAT is the Aged Care Assessment Team. The ACAT assessment must be done before the person can go into aged care for respite, or for permanent residential aged care. Google "ACAT assessment" for more information.

Power of Attorney (POA) & Enduring Guardianship

Power of Attorney & Enduring Guardianship are important issues for people needing aged care. If this is not in place, it is recommended that you get legal advice about putting these things in place.

Contacting Centrelink

It is recommended that the person have a Centrelink nominee. If they are able to sign the nominee form (SS313), get them to sign it. If not, then their POA can sign at point 19. If they are on an Age Pension, use the Centreink nominee form (SS313) rather than the aged care nominee form, as this allows the nominee to access and update both the Age Pension information, and the aged care information.

Do not visit your local Centrelink office. They do not do aged care, and will give conflicting and confusing information, and they may give you a form that you do not need. Aged care is done in a processing centre that has no public contact.

Ring 1800 227 475.

This number is easy to get through to, and there should not be a long wait, less than 10 minutes. If it is taking longer than this, ring back at 8:00 am the next day. The staff here are experienced in both Age Pensions, and aged care, and are very helpful. If the person is receiving an Age Pension assessments are usually done over the phone (ensure the Age Pension income & assets are up to date first).

Simplified

1. Become Centrelink nominee (or aged care nominee if they are not on a Centrelink pension). 2. Ensure Age Pension income & assets are up to date. If they are not on an *Age Pension, can they get an Age Pension - contact a financial adviser if you are unsure. *Receiving Age Pension is generally a big advantage if you have to go into permanent aged care, and is worth investigating. 3. Contact Centrelink on 1800 227 475 and ask for a residential aged care assessment to be done. 4. If they have a partner, as soon as you become aware that the aged care will be indefinite or permanent, get a letter from the doctor saying that the couple are separated due to ill health, and that the separation is 'indefinite' or 'permanent', and upload it to Centrelink, for both members of the couple. Contact the Age Pension section on 132 300 to have this processed. They will get the single rate of pension, which is about $230.00 per fortnight each more. They are entitled to the single rate during respite if it is indefinite or permanent. (Do not try to get the aged care team to do this - they will only do it from when it is permanent, contact the Age Pension section.) 5. If they own a home: if there is a 'protected person' living in the home it will be exempt. A protected person is a partner, or a carer who has lived in the home for 2 years, or a close family member on a Centrelink payment who has lived in the home for 5 years. If there is not protected person in the home, then it will be assessed for aged care fees, and the value will be capped (at $171,535 as at 20 Mar 20). Google 'residential aged care schedule of fees' for more details. You will need to complete a Residential Aged Care Property Details form (SA485) - Google 'Centrelink SA485'. You will need to provide Centrelink with the land rates notice for the property. You will need to give an estimate of the market value of the property. (If you are going to apply for reduced fees under financial hardship, do not underestimate the value of the property, because you will have to have the property on the market within 10% above the value for 6 months - see section on 'Aged care fees financial hardship'.)

Basic Daily Care Fee $52.25 (as at 20 Mar 20) - everybody pays this.

Means Tested Daily Care Fee Google 'residential aged care schedule of fees' for more details. Refundable Accommodation Payment

Daily Accommodation Payment

Refundable Accommodation Contribution

Daily Accommodation Contribution & interest %

Using the online estimator

Advanced

Reassessments

When fees are indexed & caps

How the home is assessed/aged care/Age Pension

Paying the RAP/RAC

RAC/DAC instead of RAP/DAP

Selling the home/aged care/Age Pension & interaction between them

When to pay home proceeds off RAD

Financial Hardship assessment (aged care fees)

What documents to provide

Separated due to ill health

Entering permanent aged care

Entering respite when it will become permanent or indefinite

Other indefinite separation

Contacting Centrelink

Documentation needed

Bereavement Payments

Contacting Centrelink

Centrelink errors

Farm Household Allowance (FHA) & Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC)

Some customer have had their CSHC cancelled when they are granted FHA, or been told that they cannot apply for CSHC.

What are the rules:

FHA: You have to be a farmer or partner of a farmer, over 16 (you can be over Age Pension age), Australian citizen or permanent resident, have a right or interest in farmland in Australia and use it for farming, the farm has significant commercial purpose, you contribute significant labour & capital to the farm enterprise, you have or are prepared to enter in a farm improvement agreement. Assets must be under $5.5 million, and your (combined) income is under the cut-out limit for Jobseeker Payment (but note that current year losses ARE allowed to be deducted).

CSHC: You must be Age Pension age, be an Australian resident, not receiving a social security pension, a social security benefit, or a DVA service pension, income support supplent or a veteran's payment, and your Adjusted Taxable Income (ATI) is under the following limits (as at 11 Jun 20): single $55,808, couple $89,290, illness separated couple $111,616. Add $639.60 to these amounts for each child in your care. These limits are indexed on 20 Sep every year.

If you qualify for the CSHC, you can get BOTH FHA AND the CSHC. This is in addition to the Health Care Card that is issued with the FHA. FHA is NOT a social security benefit (if Centrelink tells you it is, then Centrelink is not correct - the Services Australia website is wrong on this point). Expect Centrelink to be rude & stubborn about this, if so, appeal, and insist on an appeal # (a letter followed by 6 digits, e.g. K123456). The relevant sections of the SS Act 1991 are: s.1061ZG (qualification for CSHC), and s.23 (definition of what is a social security benefit and social security pension - FHA is not there!).

Note that FHA is a taxable payment, and when you complete your next tax return your ATI may go over the limit for the CSHC, and then you will lose entitlement to the CSHC. If this happens, you will have to advise Centrelink.

Why have both cards? The CSHC has some benefits that you don't get with the Health Care Card:

  • Economic Support Payment of $750.00, due in July 2020.
  • A discount or refund on your electricity costs
  • In NSW, a Regional Seniors Travel Card, worth $250.00 for travel, including petrol, available from Service NSW (phone 137788).

Bereavement Allowance

Carer Payment/Age Pension

Carer Allowance

Rent Assistance

Sharing Accommodation

Marriage-like relationships

Yes and/or No

Foreign partners

Separation

Separated under one roof

Advance Payments

Financial Information Service

Concession cards

Overpayments

Witholdings paused or reduced

Data Matching

Working for cash

Other cash amounts going into your bank account

Sale of an asset

Gifts from family

Centrelink has requested your bank statements

Appeals

The appeal process

Almost every decision made by Centrelink can be appealed. Many incorrect decisions are just errors. Centrelink may have recorded your earnings as $2000 instead of $200, or recorded the wrong account balance for a financial investment. Try first to get Centrelink to fix the error, which they will (should) do. Ring the complaints line if they don't fix an error. Other decisions may be where Centrelink has made a decision that you disagree with, for example they rejected your claim.

The appeal process:

  1. Review by the original decision maker. This may not be the same person, but it will be someone at that level. If the decision is complex or involves certain documents such as tax returns, settlement statement, real estate, valuation of a property, then it may go to a specialist, such as a 'subject matter expert', or 'senior practitioner (senior prac)', or a special team that specialises in that type of work. If you are appealing a claim, then it will have to go back to the new claims team.
  2. If the decision is not changed, then it should go to the Authorised Review Officer (ARO).
  3. If the ARO does not change the decision, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) - level 1. This review is private.
  4. You can then appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) - level 2. This review can be made public, e.g. published on the internet.
  5. Federal Court. It is recommended that you get legal advice if you want to go here. You can only appeal on a matter of law.
  6. High Court.

The words 'review' and 'appeal' are both used by Centrelink for an appeal. If you ask for a 'Review of a decision' it should be treated by Centrelink as an appeal. Questioning a Centrelink decision can be seen as a request for an appeal. However Centrelink is reluctant to accept that a customer has requested an appeal. Centrelink may explain the decision to you, and note it as a request for an 'explanation' of the decision, not an 'appeal'. It will go no further. An appeal requires Centrelink to do more work. You may have to get Centrelink to do that work. You do that by:

Completing the 'Review of a decision form'

You will have a better chance of success if you can back your appeal with some policy that supports your assertion that the decision is incorrect. The policy is contained in the Social Security Guide (not the Services Australia website). Google 'Social Security Guide' followed by words that describe your situation, e.g. 'waive debt'. You are looking for this website: https://guides.dss.gov.au/guide-social-security-law Read the Guide, and find the section that is relevant to your situation. It will have a number like 6.7.3.30.

  1. Google 'Review of a Decision form' to get the form. It can be completed online, then print it, sign it, and upload it.
  2. You will need the date of the decision. This will be the date of the letter Centrelink sent you advising of the decision.
  3. Quote the Guide wording in box 14 of the SS313, why you believe the decision is incorrect, and give the Guide reference, e.g. 6.7.3.30.
  4. Add that you want the decision reviewed by an Authorised Review Officer.
  5. Print & sign the form, and upload it on your MyGov as form SS313.
  6. You may need to provide evidence with the form, e.g. if you are appealing a debt, you may need to provide a bank statement to show that you are in financial hardship.
  7. Ring your Centrelink payment line at 8:00 a.m., tell them you want to appeal and have uploaded the SS313, and get an appeal number. This is a letter followed by 5 digits, e.g. K12345. This is different to a receipt number, which is 6 digits, e.g. 123456. It will take them a few minutes to put the appeal into the appeal system. If they refuse to do this, ask for a receipt number. Then ring the complaints line and ask them to do the appeal number for you.

How long does an appeal take?

The standard is 49 days. Centrelink will tell you that your appeal will take 3-6 months. It is more likely to take 9 months. If you have less than one fortnight's payment in your bank account, and no other financial investments, you can ask for urgent processing. Use the term 'financial hardship'.

Complex Assessment Officer

ARO


AAT


FOI


Ombudsman


Your local federal MP


Finer points

Using super under Age Pension age

Contact your financial adviser

Downsizer contribution


end