Friday, May 7, 2010

Me and Centrelink - it's Complicated

I am perhaps not alone in being overcome with a sense of dread when faced with 30 page forms.

Taxation. Centrelink. If yes, go to question 25, if no, go to question 94. Checklists are on the back page. If you answered 'maybe' at quesion 5a (part B) ensure you have attached every document you can dig from the bottom of the filing cabinet covering the last 20 years, duly notarised.

I consider myself reasonably literate, but these forms leave me with a headache, and send me into a procrastinating flurry of, oh, almost anything. I'd rather clean the toilet than deal with Centrelink forms.

It all started last May (see how good I am at procrastinating?), when I received a nice letter from Centrelink, informing me that when Dreamer turned 16, he would become an adult...

You have to be joking. Eeeek. What a terrifying thought.

... And when he became an adult, I would cease to receive my Carer's Payment (child), and he would have to apply for an appropriate payment on his own behalf, and if I wished, I could apply for a Carer's Payment (adult). It was accompanied by a nice 15 page booklet, listing a million possible combinations and permutations of benefits, for which Dreamer and/or I may/may not possibly be eligible.

Right. How hard could that be?

When Dreamer was younger, on a friend's advice, I'd applied for a Carer's Payment. It wasn't hard- Attach a document specifying that he was diagnosed with a condition on their 'automatic qualifying' list (such as ASD), and bingo. That the payment was barely enough to keep Dreamer in Pokemon was irrelevant. Every little bit helped.

So on that fateful day in May, I read the Centrelink book of suggestions and carefully vaguely worded eligibility criteria.
May as well try for the Carer's Payment (adult) for me, and for Dreamer... oh, the most likely looking was a Disability Support Pension.

That sat me down with a thump. That word 'Pension'. It just resounds with failure- can't get a job, useless, good for nothing. Dreamer is not that. I know he is not. He knows that he not. But Dreamer, as a fresh new adult, would have to sign the paperwork, and go through the assessments. Would he do it? I didn't even want to suggest it to him.

Yet, at 16, a teenager needs his own bit of income. Speedy was on track to find a part-time job, and Dreamer, 2 years his senior, was not even coping with part-time school. No way he'd be able to take on anything more.

I put the idea to Dreamer in those terms. It felt like I was slapping my own child in the face.

I told him it would be temporary - just for a couple of years.

Breathing space, to let him focus on getting as much learning done as possible.

I suggested that he didn't have time for a part-time job like other teens, and that the Pension could be like his part-time job.

He liked the idea of a bit of his own income, no matter what label it came attached too.

He agreed, and I phoned Centrelink to ask for the forms.
(to be continued)

1 comment:

  1. *is waiting with bated opposed to baited breath which involves fish*