Claim your share of $10bn an­nu­ally by check­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity

The Western Star - - Taste - AN­THONY KEANE

BIL­LIONS of dol­lars are go­ing beg­ging each year be­cause Aus­tralians are fail­ing to claim their gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits.

From en­ergy and ed­u­ca­tion pay­ments to al­lowances and as­sis­tance pack­ages, con­sumers are miss­ing out as our com­plex sys­tem makes it all too hard.

The Com­mon­wealth Bank has crunched the num­bers and es­ti­mates at least $10 bil­lion goes un­claimed an­nu­ally.

CBA chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer Pete Steel said the two main rea­sons ben­e­fits weren’t claimed were aware­ness and com­plex­ity.

“Un­claimed ben­e­fits is a global phe­nom­e­non,” he said.

“With the hun­dreds of ben­e­fits pro­vided by our gov­ern­ments, many Aus­tralians aren’t aware the ben­e­fits ex­ist or if they’re eligible. Even if they are aware of the ben­e­fit, the com­plex­ity to ap­ply and re­ceive en­ti­tle­ments may lead them to aban­don the ap­pli­ca­tion process.”

The bank has launched a ben­e­fits finder fea­ture on its app that con­nects peo­ple to around 250 po­ten­tial ben­e­fits and nudges them to claim.

“A large amount of Aus­tralians are eligible for ben­e­fits through­out their life­time, but many miss out,” Mr Steel said.

There is no pub­lic data about what doesn’t get claimed, but it is be­lieved that the big­gest missed pay­ments re­late to in­come as­sis­tance such as parental leave, pen­sions and car­ers’ al­lowances.

Plan­ning for Pros­per­ity se­nior ad­viser Bob Bu­dreika said a client re­cently found she was miss­ing out on thou­sands of dol­lars of carer al­lowance.

“It’s get­ting more com­plex,” he said. “When it comes to Cen­tre­link, they have a shopfront but don’t re­ally pro­vide ad­vice. If you walk in with a ques­tion they will say ‘the phone’s over there - go and make a call or check the com­puter ter­mi­nal’.

“It’s ba­si­cally self-serve, and sit­ting on the phone for an hour and a half is dis­cour­ag­ing.”

Mr Bu­dreika said peo­ple should seek ad­vice ei­ther from a fi­nan­cial plan­ner or a fi­nan­cial coun­sel­lor. “There’s plenty of on­line cal­cu­la­tors at Cen­tre­link and other in­sti­tu­tions,” he said.

‘Un­claimed ben­e­fits is a global phe­nom­e­non’ CBA’s Pete Steel

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