Balance Aged Care - Financial Group Logo

Balance Retirement & Aged Care Specialists

Having problems with Centrelink or Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)?

Posted on: April 11th, 2023 by Eric Hiam in Aged Care Advice, Aged Care Planning, News, Retirement Village Planning

Are you not getting the right amount of pension?

Are you having problems getting your pension entitlements fixed, or getting the pension at all?

Are you having trouble getting aged care fees corrected?

Is it possible to get more?

Do you think you might be entitled to some pension?

Understanding Centrelink & DVA policies, procedures & practices is half the battle. These two Government instrumentalities have very set guidelines that they are supposed to follow when determining someone’s pension entitlement and the amount of aged care fees to be charged. Sometimes their interpretation of financial investments and aged care rules is incorrect.

As both Centrelink and DVA are very large bureaucracies, with a reasonably significant turnover of staff, very large number of pensions and rules to deal with, therefore the success of the delivery of those services relies on the knowledge & training of Centrelink staff. This is where it seems to fall down.

When it comes to aged care, the information disseminated from Centrelink or DVA can be wrong. As a consequence, the actions of some people seeking to put a loved one into care, who have received inaccurate information from Centrelink of DVA results in either more aged care fees being paid or the wrong pension entitlement being received.

Here are some tricks to help get more means tested Pension from Centrelink or DVA;

  1. Understanding what assets are NOT counted under the assets test. These include:
  • Money spent on your home (your home is not counted as an assets).
  • Granny Flat rights.
  • Prepaid funeral (or funeral bond up to a certain limit).
  • Superannuation balances (in the accumulation phase) for anyone under the pension age (currently set at 67 years of age).
  • Part of the balance of certain annuities
  • Constructive trust balances (i.e. where someone else other than the pensioner has a financial interest in the asset but not a legal interest) for example your children may have contributed towards buying an investment property and/or holiday home or contributed towards the improvement of that property but are not on the title.
  • Gifts made to others more than 5 years ago.
  • Gifts made by a deceased member of a couple. For example, a couple gifted $100,000 to family, but one of the couple then passes away. If the gift came from the bank account of the deceased person, the gift does not transfer to the survivor. If the gift was made from a joint account, then only 50% of the gift is counted for the survivor.

2. Reviewing the values of assets that Centrelink hold on your profile.

  • Check to see that the value of assets provided to Centrelink or DVA when you applied for the pension as it may now be worth much less.
  • If your investment property/holiday house is now worth more than your home, then it may be worth considering changing the home that Centrelink treat as your principal place of residence (PPR) may entitle you to some pension or more pension. We had clients who retained their home in Sydney but moved to a Retirement Village in the country. They advised Centrelink that the former home was the PPR, which means the Retirement Village became an asset. It delivered them an Age pension of over $30,000p.a. Our charge for getting this outcomes was equivalent to less than 2 months worth pension, or a return on their investment on our fees of 833%p.a.

If you would like to see if you are entitled to a pension or to entitled to more pension or having trouble dealing with Centrelink, give us a call on 1300 556 287.  It is a free no obligation initial phone consultation, that could possibly save you thousands of dollars a year.