I've been on a medical exemption with Centrelink since last year due to mental health issues. They've assessed me as having 8 hours a week capacity to work, so I still have to do the whole job network malarkey, attending fortnightly appointments and applying for all the litany of jobs welcoming potential employees only available 8 hours a week. Which isn't great but that's life.
But then I developed a nasty foot condition called plantar fascitis, which isn't dangerous or anything, but makes walking pretty bloody painful. Getting to appointments was pretty much impossible. So I went to my doctor, he filled out a Centrelink medical certificate for me, I uploaded it to the Centrelink website, and went about my days, expecting all would be sorted with an exemption from job hunting till I was literally back on my feet.
Then I started getting insistent messages from the job search people. Why had I missed appointments? I called them. They hadn't seen the certificate. It hadn't registered in the system. They suggested it may have been declined? How odd, I thought, why would my exemption be declined. I needed to call Centrelink.
We all know how that is. I called and I called. I would get a busy signal 9 times in a row. Or be on hold for an hour, ninety minutes (eating up my phone credit). And my flat poses...some issues in trying to call. And because I'd missed a job search appointment, my payment was cancelled.
Finally I gave up. One day when my foot was slightly less bothersome, I loaded up on painkillers and hobbled in. I had lots of time to catch up on my book while I waited. Then finally, I was seen by a customer service officer.
Your claim was rejected (which no one had told me), she said, because it had the same diagnosis as last December when you were assessed as able to do job search stuff.
So you saw the plantar fascitis and it was still rejected?
But I can't walk. What am I supposed to do?
You'll have to attend your job network provider so they can restart your payment.
But I can't walk much!
Maybe they can transfer you to a provider who is closer to your house.
* I'm on the brink of tears *
I'm sorry, but it was rejected because your condition is the same as December...this mental health diagnosis. * She points to the box on the form for Diagnosis *
What about the plantar fascitis?
Hang on, look. * I point to the box on the form for additional information * It says about the plantar fascitis....that I have trouble walking and getting to appointments.
Oh. Oh. (Obviously, they hadn't seen it). Well, he put that in the wrong box. It should be under diagnosis.
Are you telling me my payment is cancelled because my doctor wrote my condition in the wrong box and no one tweaked?
You can lodge an appeal. It will take 5-7 working days. Meanwhile, contact your job network provider for an appointment to restart your payment; we can't do it here.
Okay, if you've read all this, to sum up: Centrelink missed a change to my diagnosis on an official form because it was in the wrong box and no one read the thing properly, cancelled my payment as a result, and to get it back I have to wait a week and attend the appointment I missed in the first place cause I can barely bloody walk.
I tell you, it's a rort how they throw money at people.