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Common problems for chronically ill people

1. Difficulty meeting obligations

Centrelink’s requirements can be quite onerous, particularly if you are receiving an activity-tested payment.

If you think you may have difficulty meeting a requirement, notify Centrelink. They may be able to excuse you from the requirement for a while.

If you think you are always going to have trouble meeting Centrelink’s requirements, you should consider nominating someone to negotiate with Centrelink on your behalf.

If you cannot meet the activity test, find out if you may be eligible for a non-activity-tested payment.

2. Lodging claims on time

Most Centrelink payments start from the date you lodge a written claim. If you cannot lodge a claim yourself, you should ask someone to do it for you. Your claim must usually be made within 13 weeks, and sometimes sooner, of the date you became ill or incapacitated in order to receive full backpay.

3. Newly diagnosed, controversial, difficult to diagnose and episodic conditions

Your eligibility for the disability support pension, in particular, may be affected by difficulties in diagnosing and treating medical conditions. This may occur if you have lived with a disability for a long time, but haven’t sought treatment until recently. Centrelink will often want to wait until your treatment is complete before they accept that your condition has stabilised. If there is no effective, low-risk, low-cost treatment, or if treatment has been unsuccessful, your condition should be considered stabilised.

4. Accepting medical certificates

In the past, a medical certificate automatically exempted you from the activity test. However, Centrelink now considers your medical certificate before deciding whether you should be granted an exemption from the activity test. Centrelink may also require you to attend a work capacity assessment before granting an exemption.

5. Conflicting medical evidence

Sometimes, Centrelink may disagree with your doctor about your work capacity. For example, Centrelink may demand that you meet the activity test, when your doctor says you are not well enough to work. If this happens, ask your doctor to talk or write to Centrelink on your behalf.

Such disputes are often settled only after the decision has been appealed. In the meantime, you should ask Centrelink for an acceptable interim arrangement, such as another payment or modified activity test requirements.

Next Section: Activity Tests