Applying for the age pension can be a stressful process due to the lengthy and complex paperwork seniors are required to complete in order to receive their entitlement. However, the process is often made worse by the long wait times over-65s are forced to endure before the payments start to roll in.
The average processing time for an age pension application is 49 days, but many are forced to wait longer, leaving older Australians struggling to make ends meet while they wait for their fortnightly payments.
Now the Department of Human Services is advising would-be pensioners to submit their paperwork more than three months before their 65th birthday, in a bid to “minimise the risk of delays”.
Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen told Starts at 60 that applicants can play a role in ensuring their pension claims are processed in a timely manner, advising people to submit their paperwork as early as 13 weeks before they reach the pension age.
“Age Pension claims can be more complex and take longer to process than some of our other payments,” Jongen said. “Many claimants have complicated financial affairs, and we need to review a wide range of information, including family or business trusts, investments, superannuation, real estate assets and inheritances against the income and assets test.
“Delays occur if applicants fail to provide all of the required supporting or most current documentation when lodging their claim, or where requested as the claim is being assessed. Nearly 60 per cent of rejected claims are because the applicant failed to respond to requests for additional information or documentation.
“To help minimise the risk of delays, people are encouraged to lodge their claim up to 13 weeks before they reach Age Pension age (65 years and six months).”
Jongen added that, of the 3.3 million welfare claims processed by Centrelink last year, more than 2.7 million claims, for the likes of the pension and Newstart, were processed within the department’s standard timeframes.
Many Starts at 60 readers have expressed frustration at the delays they have experienced, with one reader telling us they had to wait as long as 10 months before their first payment appeared in their bank account.
“I applied in August 2017. After going back and forth how many times, as they always needed some more information. They told me that they had what they needed and to wait five or six months,” one reader said.
“I was going into my local office about twice a month when they told me not to come as they will let me know and back pay it. It is now 10 months, I am desperate.”
Another community member described their own experience as “disgusting” having had to wait five months to receive their pension, which they said only went through in the end because they “would not go away”.
Starts at 60 want to hear from you, our readers! Do you have a story about your own negative experiences with the Centrelink that you’d like to share? Contact our editorial team at [email protected] and your story could be published here.