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What Medical Issues May Affect your Dealings with Centrelink?

1. Medical evidence

You should obtain medical evidence to support all your claims about your disability and its impact when you apply for a disability payment or appeal against a decision about a disability payment. The strength of your medical evidence will be important in determining whether or not your application or appeal is successful.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, for you to argue that you are entitled to a disability payment if you do not have supporting evidence from a doctor. If your doctor does not support your application or appeal, seek a second opinion from another doctor.

If you do not have a doctor or you do not see a doctor regularly, you should still see one and ask them to fill out the relevant Centrelink forms. They may be willing to support the application or appeal based on your past history, or they may order tests to obtain more up-to-date information about your condition. In general, the longer you have seen the doctor, the more Centrelink will value their opinion.

It is important that your doctor understands the eligibility criteria for the payment you are seeking, so they can write a report that is appropriate for the application.

If you are receiving treatment from health workers other than doctors, their reports may also be useful.

2. Medical reports

Medical reports can be expensive. Medicare will not pay doctors to write extensive reports for disability payment applications or appeals. However, there are other options.

  • Most doctors will fill out a medical certificate and application form as part of a normal medical consultation. Sometimes, they may also be prepared to write a short letter to Centrelink. Doing so can be very helpful, because a short letter is all you need, particularly if it covers the relevant issues.
  • You may be able to obtain a free letter or report from a community health service worker, or from a worker in a related service, such as a rehabilitation service.
  • The worker who is helping you with your claim or appeal may be able to ask a doctor for a free report on your behalf.

If you have no option but to pay for a medical report, get independent advice first (see ‘Independent advice and assistance’ ). In particular, find out if spending the money is likely to be worthwhile. The value or otherwise of spending money on a report will depend on what the law says about your case, and whether additional medical evidence is likely to make a difference to the result of your application or appeal.

Before asking a doctor to write a report for you, get independent advice about who would be the most appropriate person to write your report. You need a doctor with the right type of expertise, and, preferably, with experience of writing reports about social security matters.

The doctor needs to know what issues to cover in the report. Make sure you understand which issues are critical, so you can inform the doctor.

3. Medical and work capacity assessments and reviews

Centrelink may ask you to attend an interview or work capacity assessment. The interview may involve a medical, psychiatric or psychological examination, as well as a work capacity assessment.

The assessment is designed to determine whether you are medically eligible for a disability payment or activity test exemption. It is also used to find out which job-seeking, rehabilitation and employment assistance would be most appropriate for you.

You must attend the interview or work capacity assessment if you are able to do so. You should get independent advice (see ‘ Independent advice and assistance ’ ) if you are not sure about the reason for the interview or what to say.

If you are not able to attend an appointment, you must obtain a doctor’s letter or other evidence saying you were not able to attend.

Next Section: Dealing with Centrelink