Many survivors are anxious about the impact that a compensation payment may have on their regular Centrelink benefits like the Disability Support Pension, Carer’s Pension, Aged Pension, Newstart, Sole Parent Benefit and Sickness Benefits.
But there is nothing to worry about.
In the vast majority of cases, the impact is nothing at all.
However, it is important to notify both Centrelink and Medicare before receiving a compensation payment. We can do this for you.
For Centrelink payments – including the aged pension, disability pension, carer’s pension, unemployment benefits, and many others – it is extremely unlikely that receiving compensation for historical child abuse will affect your benefits.
As the abuse happened many years, often decades ago, any period for which your payments would be suspended (called the ‘preclusion period’) would have already been served. Put simply, in most cases, your Centrelink benefits will just continue as usual. It’s a big relief.
The exceptions are if your compensation payment is unusually large (in the millions), or if you are already in debt to Centrelink.
Clients who have a debt to Centrelink as a result of a loan, overpayments or fraud, will have this money deducted from their compensation. The good news is that this will completely clear the debt and your benefit payments will return to their full amount. You’ll never owe money to Centrelink again.
Does Medicare take my compensation?
Medicare payments are slightly different and survivors receiving compensation may have to pay back some money.
Again, this is nothing to be concerned about because this usually amounts to no more than a few hundred dollars at the most. In the lead up to finalising the settlement, we will notify the Health Insurance Commission (the Commonwealth organisation that administers Medicare), and you will be sent a ‘Notice of Past Benefits’.
This Notice will list every consultation for which Medicare benefits have been paid for you over many years. It’s very important that you tick ONLY medical services that are related to the abuse, as Medicare will require the repayment of benefits for these services.
We recommend that you talk this through with us to be sure that you do not nominate more services than necessary. If you get it wrong, we can have it corrected with Medicare.
Who pays for my compensation?
The compensation payments are made by the Church, institution or government department that was responsible for you at the time of the abuse.
The revelations made in the Royal Commission have made many institutions more willing to negotiate fair compensation payments to abuse survivors than in past years.
Don’t let the fear of losing Centrelink benefits prevent you from seeking the justice you deserve.