Everything you need to know about Centrelink and the pension over Christmas

Some Centrelink service centres will be closed for two weeks over the holidays. Source: Getty.

There are just two weeks to go until Christmas Day and it won’t be long before businesses begin to wind down for the holidays, but this has left many older Australians wondering how they can contact Centrelink during that period and whether their Age Pension payments will be affected.

Starts at 60 contacted the Department of Human Services to clarify what changes people can expect over the festive period, particularly when it comes to those receiving the pension or other benefits, as well as asking for advice on how to reach the government department for any assistance during that time.

As with many other businesses across Australia, all Centrelink service centres – along with the majority of phone lines – will close their doors from December 24 to December 27, before reopening for a couple of days and closing again on New Year’s Day 2019.

However Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen added that some smaller branches, such as Access Points and Remote Service Centres, will shut up shop for two weeks, closing down from December 24 until January 2.

“You will still be able to use myGov to access your online accounts during this time,’’ Jongen said. “The department’s Express Plus mobile apps, phone self-service lines and online accounts are the easiest way to do business with us over the Christmas and New Year break.

“You can use your Centrelink online account through myGov to change some of your appointments, apply for an advance payment and request a document.”

Payment schedules may also be affected by the public holidays, however anyone in receipt of automatic payments will not experience any delays caused by the holiday period, although payments may be deposited into your account slightly earlier than usual.

Jongen added: “It’s important to remember that an early payment is not an extra payment – it’s just the normal payment paid early. People may need to budget carefully so this payment lasts until their next payment is due.”

Those who will be most affected are people who are required to report to a service centre in relation to their payments, for example to provide details of their earnings or to report a change in their circumstances. The holiday closure dates mean that anyone due to report on those days will be required to do so earlier with payments then made after they have reported. 

If you’re unsure of your reporting dates you can check this by looking at your reporting statement, as well as by logging onto your myGov account online, using the Express Plus mobile app or calling the self-service phone line.

“While reporting dates may be different, the assessment period remains the same,” Jongen added. “People still need to report estimates of earnings and other changes for their normal 14 day assessment period.”

To see a full list of amended reporting dates, visit the Department of Human Services’ website.

Were you concerned that your Age Pension payments may have been affected over the holidays?

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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