In April 2018 I received a letter from centrelink stating that I owe $7,189.00 plus a 10% recovery fee for an apparent overpayment during 2010 - 2014.
I was completely shocked and scared by this letter. How had this happened?
After calling centrelink I was told that based on my tax returns over the years it can be seen that I earned more than I reported and therefore had been overpaid.
I then hit the ground running.
I went to my tax agent, got a copy of my tax returns from 2010 - 2014.
I got hold of every bank statement I could and any payslip I could find.
This was not a simple task as neither employers or banks hold onto records forever.
The numbers didn't add up.
I couldn't even calculate receiving up to $7000 from centrelink let alone owing them that much.
And while it was years ago I remember earning the same amount fortnightly and reporting that figure.
When I passed the stage of receiving my newstart allowance I was happy as I felt like I was on my way to earning a future.
I uploaded all of my statements and payslips onto the my gov/centrelink portal for them to use to review my case.
I called back 7 working days later to confirm my records were received and I was then told that my payment was on hold for 3 months while my case was being reviewed.
A little while later I received a letter saying I was "overdue" in my repayments... I called back and was told the hold never happened and my records were not sent through for review.
After some discussion I was told again my payments were on hold and my case put forward for review.
Then I received a letter saying I was now being charged interest as I had still not made payments.
I couldn't believe what I was reading.
How could a "government" system be so poorly managed.
I then called back and got the same story....
This time the outcome was my case was being presented to the "manual calculations team" ...
I figured they could see the numbers didn't add up themselves.
Another "hold" on payment, apparently.
It has been close to 1 year since I began this exhausting process trying to resolve my "debt".
Since my first call I have made up to 10 follow up calls - no answers.
I have made 2 complaints - no response.
I have complained to the ombudsman - no outcome.
I have received countless letters that state different amounts owning - none make sense.
I have received a letter from Centrelink's legal representatives Milton Graham and still no follow up from anyone.
I am currently still in some apparent debt to Centrelink for an amount that I cannot comprehend.
I have stopped following up this case as I am completely tired wasting my time.
I wonder when the manual calculations team will finishing adding up the numbers and someone give me a call to discuss.
What an absolute joke....
I feel that this process has been handled SO poorly.
Somehow I am the one who has been chasing centrelink for an answer.
Me? The person who has apparently done wrong and owes money?
It makes no sense and it is a shame.