Posts Tagged ‘invalidity’

I have previously blogged about the ridiculous saga of trying to have my small invalidity pension reinstated and receiving arrears owing to me. I previously warned potential superannuation retirees under Comsuper to be worried. Well things have now well beyond suggesting people be worried. It is instead time to be bloody panic-stricken based on the latest developments.

The latest in this saga is that at long last, after going through three formal complaints processes, Comsuper agree that yes, they still owe me the best part of $1,000 in arrears. But they can’t give it to me. Why? Because the stupid phuckers had not been making the correct income tax deductions from my pension last year. Yet this matter came up in early December last year and I was assured that not only had they fixed things, there were no further tax installments outstanding. Complete and utter bullshit as it turns out.

So I now have to wait on an application for compensation to sort the mess out.

Isn’t it absolutely outrageous that the Trustee of a Goverment superannuation fund can simply forget to deduct income tax instalments! Even worse when they know about it months earlier, claim to have fixed the problem only to really just let it fester until becoming a much greater concern and financial burden on the pensioner.

Along the way, I have now conclusively proven that:

  • Comsuper lose documents but will attempt to put the blame on the superannuation fund member, claiming the documents were not provided;
  • It is impossible to sight a copy of your actual file even under Freedom of Information as all Comsuper will allow you to sight is a copy of the electronic file (well it wouldn’t do to let the poor sod of a member find hardcopies of all of these documents they claim said member never sent!);
  • Comsuper will not initiate any contact with their pensioners whatsoever even when they have overpaid/underpaid/forgotten to pay etc;
  • Comsuper routinely do not bother to respond to matters at all;
  • Comsuper staff think nothing of telling blatant lies to superannuation fund members; and
  • Comsuper are simply incapable of even elementary mathematics.

Now matters are in the hands of the Comsuper CEO. Assuming it eventually wends its way to his In-Tray. With luck, by about next October he might have gotten around to glancing at it. Of course by that time I will probably be facing prosecution by the Australian Tax Office for failing to pay my income tax deductions, but let’s not let a little thing like a criminal conviction get in the way of things, shall we?

Are you a Comsuper pensioner? Be afraid!

Posted: December 23, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I thought it time for an update on my continuing saga over my invalidity pension.

My pension was finally reinstated. And, after furious efforts on my part and attempts by Comsuper to put me off including even resorting to outright lies, I was finally paid backpay that I was entitled to.

Through this ridiculous saga of Comsuper losing documents, failing to act on information repeatedly provided, promising the world but only delivering a couple of badly eroded pebbles from the Stuart Desert, I have lodged formal, detailed complaints. I received written confirmation of these being lodged and also received assurances of certain explanations being made and data being provided.

I received a formal response to it all yesterday. In short, because I have dealt with other people in the organisation, the entire thing has been wiped. Thanks for coming, now piss off.

This is an organisation that:

  • has repeatedly lost documentation provided to them – proven!
  • has thought it fair play to outright lie to me – proven!
  • routinely fails to return promised contact – proven!
  • does not supply Call Centre staff with the correct data regarding pensions paid – proven!
  • has computer systems that are unable to cope with someone working part-time, forcing them to manually calculate pensions each fortnight – proven!
  • promises to provide information but routinely and repeatedly fails to do so – proven!

And now, having gone through hell on wheels just to get my pension properly reinstated, Comsuper think it is quite fine to just blow off formal complaints with a single paragraph response that figuratively says ‘hey – you got your pension back so piss off.’

This mob are in charge of literally billions of dollars of people’s money. They are in charge of safeguarding those monies and with establishing a pension fund that will actually pay people their entitlements. Based on current performance, I wouldn’t trust this lot to organise a trip to the public shithouse.

Are you a member of CSS, PSS, Defence Super etc? Then be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Because this lot will stuff you and your pensions up. They do not give a rat’s arse about the financial and emotional stress they will cause you. They will refuse to do anything unless forced to it by someone shouting at them. Contrary to popular belief, I do not enjoy doing that. They will lose your records. They will willingly lie to you. And we are somehow supposed to be happy about leaving them in charge of our financial future???

A harsh lesson about superannuation

Posted: December 8, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Sadly, life seems to be a series of harsh lessons.

Through no fault of mine, I was forced out of the workplace and onto an invalidity pension paid by Comsuper who managed my pension fund. At the end of May, I commenced part-time work. Like a conscientious thing, the following day, having signed my work contract, I emailed a copy of the relevant part of that contract through to Comsuper, advising them of my change of circumstances.

Still being conscientious, having heard nothing from them by September, I contacted Comsuper again, this time by telephone. I was now advised that they had no record of any such information being received from me. Fortunately I was able to forward a copy of that earlier advice, confirming that I had made all reasonable attempts to keep them advised of such changes. However it took several attempts before being able to get that email through. I ended up having one of their staff stay on the telephone with me until, finally, an email does get through. What happened to the other attempts is unknown. All I know is that they did NOT bounce.

Eventually, my pension was reduced.

On October 16, I was advised that my services were being dispensed with by that employer. So I telephoned Comsuper to check what they needed from me to reinstate that pension. On being advised that they needed details of that cessation, it was agreed that I would fax this information through to them, as I could hardly afford a repeat performance from when I first tried to alert them to a change of my status. I faxed that letter through with a covering note explaining what it was about. I then telephoned Comsuper yet again to confirm that they had received it.

All seems pretty straight forward, doesn’t it. But here is where things start getting really screwy.

A couple of weeks later, I noticed that I was paid both the partial pension plus a second, much larger amount. Ahaa, I thought to myself. That must be the backpay so things have all been sorted.

Last week I noticed that my bank account balance seemed much lower than it should have been. I examined more closely. Not only had Comsuper continued paying me only a half-pension, the latest one had been inexplicably decreased yet further.

I telephone Comsuper that Thursday. Nobody is able to make sense of the situation. They even disputed the actual amounts that I had been paid. However I was assured that this matter would be placed in the hands of the pension administration area who would contact me further the following day. I advised that I was heading interstate the following Tuesday, the 7th, and would appreciate this being sorted out before then.

The next day, Friday December 3, not having heard anything from Comsuper by lunchtime, I telephoned yet again. Initially I was told that due to an overwhelming number of calls, all they could do was take details for someone to call me back later. I explained the situation and I was transferred to someone in the pensions area. I was now told that I had not provided any such information about cessation of my employment. Yet again there was more disputing the actual amounts I had been paid. The fact that I was quoting things direct from my bank statement didn’t seem to cut much ice with this man. To my amazement, he even claimed no record existed of any communications from Comsuper to me last September about the reduction of my pension. Never mind the fact that I had previously obtained electronic copies of same from them. However this man, named ‘Luke’, stated all they needed was an email from me confirming my change in circumstance and he would have this immediately forwarded to the administration area for actioning on the Monday. It was now that he admitted the real reason for their inability to actually do anything that Friday. It was not a matter of an excessive number of telephone calls. Most of their staff were in fact away at a Christmas Party. So in point of fact, they were telling blatant lies.

I emailed them as requested, noting in the subject line ‘attention Luke’ as requested and also forwarded a copy of the email containing some of their earlier correspondence that Luke claimed did not exist.

Come Monday, I decide to telephone yet again and see what is going on. And yet again, I was told that there was no record of my having contacted them last Friday. Getting increasingly frustrated I went through my story yet again. I was assured that this was to be handled by the admin area that day and a return telephone call promised that day. However I pointed out that I was going to be in a research library for a while where mobile phones were banned. I was assured that this had been noted.

Well, as you might have guessed by now, when I got out of that library around 4pm, I found a telephone message had been left at 3:30pm, when I was not available (remembering I had already told them I would not be available). So I return that call to the number advised in said message. No answer. So I call the main line and ask for the admin area. I now find myself having to go through the entire story yet again. They advise that ‘Katherine’ who had called me, was no longer in the office. I was further advised that nobody else would be able to assist me and I needed to speak to Katherine and only Katherine. Yet another return telephone call is promised.

I point out, yet again, that I was departing for inter-state first thing the following morning. I was assured that Katherine would be calling me at 8:30 am the following morning.

So I manage at very short notice to change the travel arrangements.

To my surprise, Katherine did indeed call me at 8:30 Tuesday morning (yesterday). Except we were now back to square one as she insisted that I was actually in paid employment and the pension I was receiving reflected the necessary reduction for that.

I admit to losing it a bit then. She confirmed that there was nothing on file to even show that I had been in contact with them last Friday, let alone details of my emails that day about this matter. Katherine now assured me that they would recalculate things and process ASAP. Except that as it takes three working days for a payment to be processed through the banking system, I would not get paid before next week.

“So what am I supposed to live on in the mean time?”

She did not have an answer for that.

I stated that I would be making a formal complaint about their actions and Katherine stated she would email me the necessary contact details. An email dated Dec 7, 9:09am, was indeed sent to me by Katherine, containing contact details for the complaints area. The email also included the following statement:

I have contacted invalidity so they can recalculate your benefit for you again. I have also requested that your arrears be paid ASAP.

Yet that is not all that occurred in this telephone call with Katherine. She also revealed the following staggering snippets of information:

  1. that the information available on their system to people answering queries, is not the correct information about what amounts one is actually paid – hence Comsuper staff disputing with me the details of my payments received;
  2. that their systems cannot cope with a pensioner returning to part-time employment and therefore they need to manually calculate and process each payment for each pensioner in that situation;
  3. the mysterious one-off payment made to me was not backpay as I had thought but merely an inexplicable overpayment made by Comsuper; and
  4. the latest reduction in my pension was because their manual calculations had been wrong and they had not been deducting enough tax.

In the meantime, before departing interstate, I telephoned the complaints area direct to express my dissatisfaction. I was assured of immediate investigation.

An email arrived today from the complaints area, confirming yet again that there was no record of any contact from me about the ceasing of my employment other than a note on file that I had said I would be forwarding the evidence.

On my return to Canberra, I shall be searching my records and taking a copy of the materials I faxed to them along with a copy of the fax header and delivering it in person, demanding an apology.

The complaints response however gets even better. It included the following statement.

In order to progress reinstatement of your full pension evidence is required from your employer stating you have ceased work. On receipt of this documentation the Invalidity Assessment team will approve reinstatement of your full pension and calculate the arrears owing to you which will be paid to you with the full pension.

Hold on a moment. I offered to get a copy of that letter scanned and sent to them last Friday, only to be told that they DID NOT need it, that just a confirmatory email was required from me. Yet more incorrect information being disseminated and yet more time being wasted in resolving this matter.

Don’t go away just yet – things get even better. I am now told that the turnaround time for an urgent payment to a credit union is 4 days. So a regular thing takes three days, but an urgent one takes four???

Here is a reality check. It does NOT take three and four days to process things through banking systems, including going to a credit union account. My former public service employer, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, had no difficulty in arranging over-night corrections to one’s pay. In that most recent part-time employment, I was paying the organisation’s bills electronically not to mention the staff pays. These did not take three and four days to go through but no more than two!

So what are the harsh lessons that I have learned?

  1. if you are dealing with Comsuper, DO NOT entrust them with either email or fax – it seems that registered mail may be the only safe way to get anything to them;
  2. expect Comsuper to routinely lose things, failing to put them on file, entirely disregarding their legislative obligations to maintain detailed and accurate files;
  3. never expect to get the same information from any two staff at Comcare – I seem to get as many different stories as the number of different staff I talk to, and so far, none of them seem to have any of it right;
  4. if you are experiencing financial hardship because of their fuck-ups, don’t expect much sympathy from them, just yet more stonewalling.