New income reporting driving pensioners out of work

11 May 2021
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Federal MP Rebekha Sharkie has called for an urgent review of new, stringent Centrelink income reporting obligations for pensioners that are causing enormous stress for seniors who are not tech-savvy, making some consider quitting their part-time jobs.

The Member for Mayo has written to the Minister for Government Services, Linda Reynolds, to ask the Government to make Centrelink reinstate the old system of reporting part-time income for seniors while the welfare agency transitions to the Single Touch Payroll system over the next six months.

“Income reporting to Centrelink is not new for welfare recipients but the new reporting format for pensioners while Centrelink transitions to Single Touch Payroll is new, and it is causing significant and unnecessary stress for pensioners, particularly for those who either do not use the internet, live in a rural area with limited internet access or have commitments that limit their ability to meet Centrelink’s rigid reporting deadline,” Rebekha said.

“I have a 72-year-old constituent who has worked the same two days a week for the past seven years who is now driving a 106km round trip once a fortnight to a Centrelink office to report his income because he doesn’t do the internet, he doesn’t have a smartphone and the phone reporting is too confusing and stressful.

“His fortnightly income has never changed in seven years so he has never been required to report his part-time income in the past but now, thanks to the new requirements while the new system is introduced, he is obliged to report on one specified day in order to keep his aged pension payments.

“Another constituent, aged 69, has worked as a receptionist three days a week for the past three years. Her income hasn’t changed but she is now required to report to Centrelink before 6pm on a specified day.

“That day is one of her busy workdays and she is now so distressed that she will forget to report her income and lose her pension payments that she is considering giving up work altogether.

“That’s just two constituents but given that Mayo is the electorate with the oldest median age in South Australia and is one of the oldest in the nation, I am sure there are many, many older Australians who receive a part-pension that are affected by this interim reporting requirement.

“We want our older Australians who have the capacity and desire to continue working to stay in paid employment. Financially and socially it’s good for them and it’s beneficial for the community.

“This reporting regime is only temporary while they introduce a new system, which places the obligation for payslip reporting on the employer, so I cannot understand why Centrelink just doesn’t re-instate its old reporting requirements for pensioners until the transition is completed.

"I encourage other pensioners experiencing issues with the new system to contact their local Federal MP so we can advocate on their behalf to the Government."

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