Get in early and have documents

Get in early: To contact Centrelink about your age pension call 132 300 or go to https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/age-pension

Get in early: To contact Centrelink about your age pension call 132 300 or go to https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/age-pension

IF YOU'RE almost ready to retire and plan to apply for an age pension, get in early (up to 13 weeks early) and have all your documentation ready before you do.

That's the advice from Centrelink – and it's good advice according to Kaye Stannard who says she waited almost six months to have her age pension approved.

She admits she didn't apply for it until the day she was eligible – March 10 – when she went into her local Centrelink office; but, even so, she wasn't prepared for the ‘saga’ that followed.

Kaye filled in the forms she was given and lodged them. She then received a letter saying the application was rejected because more information was needed.

This was duly supplied, but the application was rejected again, this time because Centrelink told her she had supplied the additional information too late. 

A phone call to Centrelink resolved that problem – the extra information actually wasn't submitted too late so the application could now be processed.

Nothing happened for another month so Kaye rang Centrelink again, at which time she was told there were many applications to deal with and only those applications from people in financial difficulties were fast tracked.

As Kaye was living on her superannuation she was not in financial difficulty.

Five months and three weeks after lodging her initial application, Kaye's part pension came through but she has complained to her local federal politician about the time taken to process it.

When to apply

The Centrelink website advises that you can lodge your age pension application 13 weeks before you are eligible. Eligibility details are available on its website, by phone or at an office.

If you are already age-eligible you can tell Centrelink of your intention to apply and you then have two weeks to get your application in.

If you are already on an income supplement Centrelink says it will write to you nine weeks before you reach age pension age and tell you what you can do to transfer to the age pension.

Human Services minister Alan Tudge said the department assessed more than 156,000 age pension claims in 2015-16 and of these more than 10 per cent were rejected as the claims lacked “crucial information”.

A spokesperson from the Department of Human Services said the department worked hard to ensure all claims were processed efficiently, in as little time as possible.

“Processing times can vary depending on the complexity of the individual case, and how many claims have been submitted to the department at any one time,” she said.

The spokeswoman said the government was streamlining the claim process and improving the user experience for those who claim online.

She said the department routinely adjusted staffing during peak periods and in recent months 200 more staff had been allocated to age pension processing. 

Source: The Senior