Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'm Sorry But You Owe Us Money

So I got a letter in the mail the other day, from the ever illustrious Centerlink. For those of you unfamiliar with this division of Australian government, they are basically our "welfare" system. They issue all the dole bludgers their fortnightly pay (which means people who are unemployed get paid by the government to go "look" for work, but who [mostly] really don't and just sit around collecting money) as well as pensions for the elderly, single parent pension etc. I was a dole bludger for awhile after coming back here, and while I did look for work, of course I wasn't going to get hired based on two major factors: 1) I was over 16, and (2) I was pregnant.

Okay, so, I was still allowed to collect while pregnant because even though I wouldn't get employed, I still looked for work and thus still got the not-so-sweet-cash; my constant "looking" for work had to continue until my 32nd week of pregnancy, when I would no longer have to in order to keep getting paid. (I know it's abit confusing, but bear with me)

So now, cut to me being 34 weeks pregnant, and I get a letter in the mail from Centerlink, stating that I did not have to hand in my Claim for Payment form until somewhere in March, instead of the previous date of January something. I called Centerlink and verified this, plus also having verified it with TWO REAL people, face to face, in two separate branches. The lady I spoke with on the phone assured me that this was the case, and that I no longer had to hand in my form every fortnight in order to keep getting paid (which both humans I spoke with face to face, also said).

Okay, now, BOTH humans I physically spoke with told me that after I'd had the baby, I would be eligible for the Family Allowance pension, which is still a fornightly payment but the amount varies, solely dependant upon how much income the family currently has. They BOTH told me that if I no longer wanted to receive ANY type of payments from them, I DID NOT HAVE TO LODGE MY FORM, and my payments would immediately stop.

This was true. This happened. I did not lodge my form in March, because I no longer wanted the fortnightly payments.

Now it is May. I get a letter from them in the mail only a few days ago, and the letter tells me that because I did not lodge my Claim for Payment form in March, that I now owed them $2500 in backpayment from December through until March, and I have until May 31st to pay it back.


So now this means I have to call them, and no doubt get the run around before they tell me I will have to make an appointment with my nearest office to go in and speak to yet another person. Should this happen, I might purposely just not feed Kira prior to going in, so not only do they get an insanely angry woman to speak with, they will also get the joys of hearing an insanely angry baby.


She Must be Full of BS said...

RIGHT ON!! I'd definitely go with screaming Kira in tow. Especially if the runaround goes on for bit(and it sounds like it might!).

Anonymous said...

Ring the person that sent you the letter about the overpayment. They will normally just send you a duplicate form, with a replied paid envelope, fill out the form and send it back!! It sounds like you were on a 12 week lodgement cycle? and should have been told to lodge that last form to complete the cycle! Once the form is returned, it gets processed and the debt is USUALLY wiped! You shouldn't need to go into an office!
Here speaks the voice of experience!
Have you claimed Parenting Payment yet?

Maribeth said...

What a giant pain in the butt! Good luck getting it resolved!

e said...

anon - I haven't claimed anything from them yet. I'm not sure I'm going to. I have until she's 26 weeks old so I'm still giving it some thought. :)