A BEECHWORTH woman has hit out at “unacceptable” delays in processing her disability pension application.
Kaye Sewell and her husband, Bruce, lodged applications with Centrelink on June 5.
Mr Sewell received his first part-pension payment on July 17, but Mrs Sewell is still waiting.
Their financial adviser and accountant had told them each application should have taken between six to eight weeks to process.
She phoned Centrelink on August 21 and, after a 40-minute wait, “I was advised my file had not yet been opened some 11 weeks after submission”.
“This is totally unacceptable.”
The Sewells run a beef farm on the Chiltern Road, but this is more of a hobby operation as it cannot provide a regular, adequate income.
Up until the end of last year Mrs Sewell, 62, worked as a personal care assistant, but problems with her knees forced her to retire.
It has been established that the pain in her knees was caused by hip problems and so she now has to undergo two hip replacements, the surgery for each about 12 months apart.
Mrs Sewell said she was told interim Centrelink payments could have been made to her while her application was being assessed.
“My main concern is that this is a very long process for a lot of people who can’t deal with it,” she said.
“It’s simply not fair.”
Mrs Sewell said they got professional help to do their application because it was so complex, requiring a large amount of paperwork.
The Sewells lodged their applications thought the Centrelink office at Yarrawonga.
“We gave them our licences and birth certificates and they copied them and approved them,” she said.
“Then I received a letter (on Tuesday) saying they needed more proof of identity.
“Have they lost this information, what have they done with it?”
Mrs Sewell said she would now drive to Wangaratta to again provide her identification documents.
She said the delay was explained away as a “backlog”.
Mrs Sewell was told this week that a doctor’s appointment was made for her for next Monday to verify her medical condition.
General manager Hank Jongen said the department acknowledged there had been “a longer than usual delay in processing Mrs Sewell’s application”.
“(It) apologises for any inconvenience this has caused,” he said.
Mr Jongen said payments such as disab- ility support pension required “a thorough assessment process” before an entitlement was granted.
“Often the assessment process for (this pension) can be complex, requiring extensive medical evidence and supporting documentation before a claim can be assessed,” he said.