I am having trouble with Centrelink/ DVA what should I do?
Before advising Centrelink/DVA of anything, obtain as assets & income statement (including the detail of the assets & income-not just the summary. This then tells you what Centrelink THINK you have, if the asset balances & income quoted is the same, then good -there is little to worry about.
However, if what they have recorded on their records is vastly different from what you have then it is possible that you may have to repay some pension, & if the difference has been large for many years, this amount you may have to repay could be substantial. You may need a strategy to minimise the impact.
We have acted as a “nominee” for hundreds of clients, dealing with Centrelink on their behalf. If you find you are not getting answers, or if the pension amount received is wrong. You can ask for your pension entitlement to be reviewed, or you can lodge a complaint, or as a last resort take your issue to the AAT (Administrative Appeals Tribunal), where Centrelink /DVA are obligated to oblige by the finding of the AAT.
Always be respectful of the person at Centrelink you are dealing with, it is usually not their fault that an error has been made, & you will “catch more flies with honey than vinegar” i.e. the person you are dealing with is more likely to be helpful & co-operative if you are pleasant than rude. We need to accept the fact that it is a VERY big bureaucracy, & mistakes will be made.
We have found that our clients don’t know if the answer they are given by Centrelink is wrong or right, & hence if someone from Centrelink was to give you the wrong answer to your question, you will probably simply believe them. We know from experience that the answers are often wrong. How can you deal with this? The best way is to know what the answer SHOULD be, then if the answer you get is wrong, you know it’s wrong & you can ask to deal with someone more senior.
Whenever you deal with Centrelink or DVA, we urge our clients to keep a record of the conversation, recording the date, the time & the name of the person you spoke with, & also record their answer (i.e. write it down) & always ask for a Receipt Number of the conversation. That way if you have been told the wrong answer, if you have those details you can prove it, & are more likely to win the argument.
Further if you send any documents to Centrelink, keep a copy of what you send, they do lose a great deal of stuff, & also the post office can also be a contributing factor. If you posted anything to them also keep record of the date it was posted. I would start a small exercise book to keep these details recorded.
If all else fails you can engage us to help. Simply call us with the problem you have, & we will discuss what if anything we can do to help, & the likely cost.