Last updated 15 August 2016

A person can apply for social security benefits through their local Centrelink office or by using the Centrelink website. The steps include registering intent to claim, submitting supporting documentation, attending an interview, an assessment of the claim and the advice on the outcome.

Submitting an intent to claim and supporting documentation

An intent to claim can be a letter, visit or phone call to Centrelink where the person advises they wish to claim a social security benefit. You can also make a claim online on the myGov website if you have a Centrelink account. Starting a claim is also referred to as a statement of an intention to claim. Payments are backdated to the date of the call or letter as long as Centrelink receives a completed claim form and supporting documentation within 14 days of registering the intent to claim.

Centrelink cannot refuse an application. Even if a Centrelink worker has advised that a claim is unlikely to be successful, a claim can still be made and Centrelink cannot refuse to accept and assess it.

Attending an interview

A person applying for a payment may be asked to come in for an interview to provide documentation supporting the claim. Original copies of documents to prove the person’s identity and income, assets, rent and previous employment may be required. It is better to provide too much information and documentation than not enough. This will prevent a claim from being delayed until required information has been provided.

Assessment of the claim

Processing times of claims for payments can vary. Many can be processed quickly, with the first payment received in three to four weeks. It should be noted that Disability Support Pension applications take longer—sometimes several months for the first payment to be received.