As you may know from this post, I’m required to reapply for the benefit every twelve months. This is yet another of the delightful results of the Jobseeker Benefit and Sickness Benefit being rolled into one.
As I said before, I understand why this process is part of receiving support. That doesn’t make it less stressful.
I appreciate that situations change and so benefit entitlements need to be reassessed. But if a beneficiary’s situation changes, they are required to tell WINZ immediately anyway. And my doctor has said, on the medical certificates I have to provide every three months, that my situation will not. Due to my (incurable) illness, I can’t be expected to work more than I am any time soon.
I completed the first part of the reapplication for Jobseeker Support online. There’s three parts to my benefit – the Jobseeker Support entitlement, the Accommodation Supplement, and the Disability Allowance. I also qualify for Temporary Additional Support because I have no assets. The DA and TAS are separate applications.
I thought what I’d do is write a bit about the process to try and help others going through the same thing. For me, this is a huge source of anxiety, and having some tips may be useful. So here we go.
1. If you’re on a main benefit like Jobseeker Support, you can do the application/reapplication online. You’ll need to have income information from the last 52 weeks., and details such as any assets you have, how much your accommodation costs, if you have any additional costs such as hire purchases. This part is probably the simplest bit.
2. Once that’s complete, you’ll get a page telling you to make an appointment for the next step, and what things you’ll need to bring to the appointment. This is their list. I’ll give you mine in a second.
- Verification of your new address and accommodation costs – such as tenancy agreement mortgage agreement, rates.
- Verification of your employment – such as payslips, bank statements and information about your employer or a Verification of Earnings form
- Verification of income from any other source – such as wages or salary, accident compensation, self employment, interest from savings or investments, dividends from shares, income from rents, redundancy or termination pay, child support, maintenance payments, boarders or any other income e.g family trusts or overseas payments
- Verification of any cash assets – such as money in bank, savings, money lent to others, money in bonus bonds, shares, debentures or government stocks
3. As I said, the Disability Allowance and Temporary Additional Support are separate applications. I wasn’t due for TAS renewal (though this is automatically reassessed if my costs had changed in the Jobseeker Support application), but I had to get a DA form sent to me.
The Disability Allowance goes towards costs relating to my illness, such as medication, doctor and specialist appointments, physio, special foods. You have to get your GP to fill in most of this application, so make sure you do this before you go in for the appointment. While you’re there, get a printout of all your visits from the past year. You’ll need proof of the costs.
The best thing to do with the Disability Allowance is to Keep Every Receipt. I have all of my: grocery receipts, doctor’s eftpos slips, pharmacy printouts, bus tickets, receipts for things like swimming – all of them from the past year are filed.
Even then, I also recommend going to your pharmacy and getting a printout of the last 52 weeks, split into prescriptions and purchases. Some pharmacies do charge for this, so be aware, but they may not if you have a Community Services Card and/or a High User Card.
4. Your appointment.
So what did I have to take?
- The two printouts from the pharmacy showing all my prescriptions and purchases (Disability Allowance)
- The printout from the doctor showing all my appointments and the total cost (Disability Allowance)
- All the above mentioned receipts for groceries, transport, physio appointments etc (Disability Allowance)
- The Disability Allowance form from the doctor
- A letter from my landlord showing my address and rent (proof of address/rent cost for accommodation supplement)
- A signed printout from the bank showing my current balances (proof of assets, or lack thereof)
- A signed printout from the bank showing payments from work (proof of income)
- A PDF from PayPal showing the Patreon donations (proof of income)
Basically, the more organised you can be, the better. You’ll be in and out quicker and your case manager, if they’re anything like mine, will be pleased that they have everything they need in front of them.
Don’t get me wrong. It still sucks. There’s something incredibly dehumanising and mortifying about spreading your whole life out in front of someone for assessment like this. A tiny part of me waits to be interrogated or reprimanded. “You went to the doctor how many times?” “You spent how much on food that week?” It’s irrational (I think) but it’s there.
Hopefully, this goes some way to helping a bit, so you can at least be prepared. The worst thing is when you have to keep going away for more information. The back-and-forth adds to the stress of the situation. If you can avoid that, all the better.
As of yesterday, I received a letter saying everything has been regranted. I still have to take in a new medical certificate every three months, but apart from that, I have some semblance of security until next March. Thank god for small mercies.