14 Feb Centrelink changes policy on ‘start day’ for payments and concession cards
A recent legislative change has removed the ‘intent to claim’ provisions from 1 July 2018 for most clients. Under the intent to claim provisions, payments were effectively backdated to the day the client first contacted Centrelink and indicated their intention to claim, as long as they were eligible and provided a claim form within a specified period.
At the same time, Centrelink has introduced a policy change regarding incomplete claim forms. Prior to 1 July 2018, if an incomplete claim form was lodged, as long as any errors and omissions were subsequently corrected, the ‘start day’ for payment was generally the date the claim form was first lodged. However from 1 July 2018, the ‘start day’ has been changed to the date the completed claim form is lodged.
Removal of ‘intent to claim’ provisions
Prior to 1 July 2018, if a client contacted Centrelink in relation to a claim for payment, Centrelink would deem the person as having lodged their claim on the date of contact, as long as certain conditions were met. Payments were backdated to the date of the first date of contact as long as the client subsequently lodged their claim form within 14 days1 and was found to be eligible.
In the explanatory memorandum to the amending legislation2, it states: “These provisions were introduced at a time when claim forms were mailed to claimants, completed by the claimants, and then returned by mail to the Department of Human Services. With the advent of technology that allows people to gather and submit documentation quickly and easily (such as online banking, email, and electronic storage of information), and the progressive rollout of online claiming, this level of assistance is no longer necessary or appropriate.”
From 1 July 2018, the ‘intent to claim’ provisions have been removed for all clients except those in vulnerable circumstances3. Examples of vulnerable circumstances include:
- crisis situations where the client is unable to fully complete a claim due to being homeless
- clients affected by a major disaster or family and domestic violence
- a recent humanitarian entrant or
- clients recently released from prison or psychiatric confinement
For all other clients Centrelink have advised that, under the new rules, clients will be eligible for payment from the date they submit a “completed claim form”.
Completed claim form
The Centrelink website states: “From 1 July 2018, you need to complete your claim in full before you can get a payment. This also applies to concession cards. You need to submit all supporting documents before we can start to process your claim. If your claim’s successful, you’ll get a payment or concession card issued from the date you submitted your complete claim. We’ll no longer pay you from the date you started your claim or contacted us about claiming.”
It is important that advisers and clients are aware of this change, as delays in completing claim forms and supplying supporting documentation may result in significant delays in the payment start date. Delays could occur for a number of reasons, including difficulty locating documentation or understanding Centrelink forms. It may also take a considerable amount of time before Centrelink advises clients that the claim forms are incomplete, which cause further delays to the payment start may date.