Appeal, Appeal, Appeal
Beat the Phone Queue
FOI. The Start not the End
Gay Couples Get Paid More
Get Payments and earn money on
Re- Apply for that Partner Allowance
Appeal, Appeal, Appeal - There
are more places to appeal than you dream. A
Centrelink staff member has made an unfavourable
decision about your payments. Where to now?
Well firstly, if
you had done your homework and told your story
well, we wouldn't be here now, but your first
step is to go through the decision again with the
Original Decision Maker (ODM), and tell them
anything they don't know, or have not taken into
account which should effect their decision. Be
assertive. Still didn't get what you want? Make
an asshole out of yourself, be aggressive. At
this point many Centrelink staff just give in,
many because it's just too hard, others because
they don't know what they are doing. But if they
didn't (and if your behaviour didn't already make
them go running for one) it's time to ask for....
The supervisor, team leader or manager is usually
busy doing other things, and sometimes will give
you what you want because you are taking up their
time and disturbing the office and other
customers. But sometimes a hard-ass supervisor
will back up a hard-ass ODM. If so, it's on to
the next step...
Review Officer (ARO) is a Centrelink staff member
who will take a fresh look at your case, going
over it with a fine tooth comb to make sure
everything has been done correctly. Often, things
aren't correct, and they find in your favour. But
sometimes, you may have to go further, to.....
Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) is an
independent body who will review your case. If
you haven't won yet, this is pretty much a waste
of time, right? Wrong. I've seen these guys hand
down some decisions Centrelink thought were
pretty wacky (but SSAT wouldn't have made them
unless they thought Centrelink's decision was
wacky in the first place). So it's still worth
trying these guys, and up to here it's all been
free, so what have you got to lose? If the SSAT
agreed with Centrelink you can still go to....
Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is like a court, so I
recommend getting someone to represent you if you
get to this step. The AAT will review the
legality of the decision. Sometimes your case
might set a legal precedent. Not many battlers
make it to this step. They give up (so Centrelink
wins, right?) But if you still think you are
right, there's one more place you can go...
The Federal Court
can review decisions under the Administrative
Decisions (Judicial Review) Act or AD(JR).
Personally, I don't know anyone who went this
high, but hte mechanism is there and some use it.
You don't have to
just follow this whole chain one step at a time.
There are other things you can do while all this
is going on. You can contact your local MP or
Senator, the Minister for Family and Community
Services, or the Prime Minister. They make the
laws after all. And don't forget their opposite
numbers like the Leader of the Opposition, or his
Shadow Ministers. You can also contact the
Ombudsman. None of this is a magic wand, but will
give your case a slightly higher profile, because
important community figures are turning up the
heat and want to know what's going on.
Beat the Phone Queue- A woman
interviewed on the Seven network current affairs
program 'Today Tonight' during the week ending
25/8/00 said she beats the long wait when she
calls Centrelink. She claims she dials zero as
soon as she gets the recorded message. We didn't
have any luck with this method, but it's worth a
try. Computer controlled answering systems with
programmable menu options just put you through to
an operator as a default when an unprogrammed
option is selected. So just punch any old number.
What have you got to lose?
FOI. The Start not the End - Many
people use the Freedom of Information (FOI)Act
provisions when they have exhausted all appeal
avenues. Maybe you have an overpayment you
appealed against, and lost, now you want to know
who 'dobbed you in'. Don't waste your time. Your
unkown accuser has a right to privacy too, and
Centrelink won't tell you who they are.
Other people use
FOI in the middle of an appeal to find out: how a
decision was made, calculations, etc so they can
argue against them. This is better, but in both
these cases people have missed an important
USE FOI BEFORE YOU
EVEN CLAIM. That's right, you heard correct.
Would you take a
test without doing some study first? No? Then why
would you answer even one question on a
Centrelink form without knowing why it's being
asked? Study up first, then you have a better
idea how to answer. Where to study? Well besides
the Social Security Act and Guide (follow the
link on this Website), you can use FOI to get
access to staff instructions and job aids that
Centrelink staff use to help them make decisions.
KNOW WHAT THEY KNOW BEFORE THEY KNOW ANYTHING
ABOUT YOU! It sure beats saying the wrong thing
and not getting paid.
Gay Couples Get Paid More -
Section 4(2)(i) of The Social Security Act
defines a 'member of a couple' as someone who
'has a relationship with a person of the opposite
sex'. So same sex couples get treated as single
people. 2 single people get paid more than 2
married people. A same sex partner's income and
assets are not taken into account when
determining a rate of payment. So overall, gay
couples certainly do get paid more. Isn't this
discriminatory to non-gay people? Of course.
Isn't it insulting to gay people not to have
their relationships recognised? Of course. What
if All opposite sex couples told Centrelink they
were gay, just to get a higher rate of payment?
Well making a false statement is fraud, but this
one could be quite difficult to prove, as many
people who are gay conceal this fact from family,
friends and the wider community.
Get Payments and
Earn Money on Blind Pension - Section 95(1)
of the Social Security Act states that 'A person
is qualified for a Disability Support Pension if
the person is permanently blind'. Disability
Support Pension - Permanent Blindness (DSB) is
not income tested or assets tested, so a person
in receipt of DSB can earn as much as they like
and have as much assets as they like, and their
pension is not effected. But the to get this
payment you have to be permanently blind
not totally blind. Blindness is defined
as: having a visual acuity of 6/60 or less under
the Snellen Test. So if you have very poor
eyesight you may qualify.
Re-Apply for that Partner Allowance
- Newly Arrived Resident Waiting Period
legislation for Partner Allowance was repealed
from 30 March 2000. Until it is reinstated, those
people who have been refused Partner Allowance
because they have been in Australia for less than
2 years, but are otherwise qualified for payment,
can claim and get paid.
When the provision IS reinstated people who
claim now will continue to get paid.
SO CLAIM NOW, IT IS UNKNOWN HOW
LONG THIS WILL LAST, AND CENTRELINK WILL PROBABLY
NOT CONTACT YOU TO TELL YOU ABOUT THIS!