A JOINT study conducted by the National Seniors Australia (NSA) and Retirement Essentials, has confirmed that applying for the age pension is a fraught experience for many older Australians.
According to Retirement Essentials founder and CEO Paul Rogan, the report offers a unique insight into the challenges confronting prospective age pensioners who deal with Centrelink and reveals for the first time the scale of the problem.
“In recent years, the media has increasingly reported complaints from the seniors’ community of long Centrelink phone wait times, and horror stories of claiming issues. But, until now, there has been no independent research into these issues,” said Mr Rogan.
“Our study, conducted by National Seniors Australia, proves beyond doubt that the age pension application service is a deeply complex and frustrating experience for many.”
Retirement Essentials commissioned the NSA to produce the report, The
Experience – From ‘waiting, frustrated, hopeless’ to ‘helpful friendly, positive’. The NSA surveyed their members who had recently applied for the age pension with more than 4,500 seniors responding.
“This is an important document for senior Australians and public policy stakeholders. It shines a light on a vast problem which has been hiding in plain sight,” said Mr Rogan.
The study found conclusively that fewer than four in ten seniors are satisfied with the current age pension application process. Specifically, it also found that 88 per cent of people in the survey were dissatisfied with age pension application forms and processes.
“I was surprised by how widespread this problem is. If the survey data is reflective of the whole community, then over 153,000 Australian seniors each year are having a negative experience when applying for the pension.”
Mr Rogan argues this is significant because of the practical impact on vulnerable individuals.
“Beyond those who are simply frustrated, there are many eligible people who actually give up on accessing their entitlements. And, when the purpose of the age pension is to be a safety net, we need to do more to assist seniors to navigate the complex process and support them.”
Retirement Essentials has recently launched a service that combines an easy to use website with good old fashioned, accessible telephone service that solves many of the issues identified in the report. The Retirement Essentials Age Pension service is a new, smarter way to apply for the Age Pension.
Crucially, the website is easy to use because it’s been designed with seniors, for seniors.
“We worked with Seniors to better understand how they prefer to interact with technology and we quickly learned that a hybrid service that links good old-fashioned customer service with human-centred technology would work best,” said Mr Rogan.
“In a country like Australia where people have worked hard and paid taxes their whole life, it’s simply not fair that government makes it hard to apply for the age pension,” said Mr Rogan.
“We believe every Australian should be able to access affordable support when they reach retirement age, which is why we have worked with everyday seniors to design an age pension service that helps them secure their entitlements with confidence.”