Centrelink circling

In recent years I’ve often thought and said that I hoped never to have to deal with Centrelink or Services Australia. In large part my attitude is based on the limited experiences Majella and I had in dealing with Centrelink to finalise matters for our parents as they died. Majella did the heavy lifting for all of those but I was there or heard enough to decide it was best avoided. My attitude has not been improved by what I’ve heard or read in the news about Robodebt and other issues.

Fortunately, Majella and I had good jobs with superannuation benefits for enough years that we are currently self-funded retirees. We are old enough to qualify for the age pension but do not yet meet the income or assets tests. That may change in the future but for the present we have no need to deal with the system because it has nothing to offer us.

That’s what I thought until earlier this year a friend in our age group was talking about the benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. It offers concessions for health care, something that might have been useful in dealing with my ongoing treatment for kidney cancer. The card is for those not receiving income support from government and the income test is less stringent than that for the age pension. Based on the website information we should qualify so it seemed worth trying.

According to the website my first step would be to link Centrelink to my existing myGov account. I started that process and reached a page that offered two ways of linking online, one using myGovID and the other direct with Centrelink from the myGov website. I had created a myGovID sometime previously and provided the documents (passport and driver licence) required for a ‘strong’ identity so I went that way. I stepped through the process which went smoothly until I reached the end and was advised that Centrelink could not link me with the information provided. I tried a couple of times more without success and was convinced that I was right to avoid contact with Centrelink if I could.

A couple of weeks ago I was speaking with another retired friend who extolled the benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card for reducing healthcare costs. After that conversation I tried again to link myGov to Centrelink using myGovID with the same result as before. After a couple of failed attempts I called a number provided on the Centrelink website. Surprisingly I got through on the third attempt and the woman I spoke with advised me that the problem would be at the MyGovID end. She gave me a number to call and advised me to select option 2 on the menu. That suggested to me that the problem was common.

On the second attempt at calling that number I was offered a call back and sometime later a man called. He asked if I was using the same email address for myGov and myGovID. Of course I was. I do have multiple email addresses but most people probably don’t and, among our friends, couples often share the same email address. He advised that I should have used different email addresses and that I would be better to unlink myGovID from myGov and use the other process to link to Centrelink.

I changed my email address in the myGovID app to another variant of my iCloud address that appears different but goes to the same mailbox. I then unlinked myGovID from myGov and tried linking to Centrelink any way I could. Again I had no success. I tried linking myGovID to myGov again but got a message telling me I must use the same email address for both. The myGovID app informed me that I could not change my email address more than once in a 24 hour period.

Next day I tried again after resetting my email address in myGovID to match myGov. Still no success.

I think I’ve been around the circle of government online services every which way. Fortunately the ATO link is still working and I will be able to complete my tax return to retrieve the little bits of tax charged against a couple of small jobs I did for former colleagues during the year. I think I’ll leave Centrelink alone for a while. If I do ever really need it I might have to go and stand in line unless their online systems eventually get updated to work.

3 Responses

    • It’s clearly not impossible to make the link and get the card but the secret has eluded me so far. I’ll probably try again sometime to see if anything has changed.