TL;DR - centrelink lost my rental documents, as such robodebt claims my rental assistance was invalid, provide rental documents, find out I UNDERCLAIMED $200, ask for $200 from centrelink, get rejected because claim was OVER 5 YEARS AGO ??? (WHY CAN THEY CHASE ME FOR "DEBT" OVER 5 YEARS AGO)
Over the course of 6 months I was repeatedly hounded for a debt I apparently owed centrelink. The debt was a calculation based on rental assistance on top of newstart allowance. The time it was referring to was mid 2011 to early 2012. During that period I was working part-time from in regional NSW while studying a double degree in Electronic Engineering and IT.
The debt basically claimed I did not rent during the period I was receiving rental assistance and asked I provided evidence, of which I had already provided in order to receive rental assistance in the first place.
The first call I made I told them they should already have my documents since I needed to submit evidence of my rental situation in order to receive the assistance. They claimed that the system no longer had these documents and I had to submit them again. I decided to ignore them at this point because I knew I was in the right and this seems to be an administration error on their end.
I received several letters threatening with debt collectors which then led to receiving a call from debt collectors (can't remember who but I remember they were run by centrelink/government or something) claiming I owe them money. This was when I decided to waste my own time chasing up evidence of my rental history.
I rented through a real estate agent so contacted them about my situation, and they basically said they could not back date documents and sign them off for some reason, I can't remember why. So then I wasted time getting in contact with centrelink who claimed that they could not provide any documents to request for the rental history. I then contacted the real estate agent two more times which ended up with them realising I was not applying for rental assistance now, I was instead just chasing up existing signed documents from my old application (my eyes rolled into the back of my brain). They emailed those documents to me.
I then uploaded the documents to centrelink and had to call them because none of this is automated apparently. They put me onto some debt consolidation team who said they would call me back once the documents were reviewed.
!!!FOLLOWING IS IMPORTANT!!!!
The debt consolidation team called me back after reviewing the documents and said I UNDERCLAIMED by approximately $200. I then asked if they would compensate me for that underclaim. The person I was speaking to said NO BECAUSE IT WAS OVER 5 YEARS AGO.
The amount of time I was stressing and sitting on centrelink phone queues, and chasing up real estate agents definitely cost me at least $500. What was worse is that I was going through a really tough time when I was on centrelink. I spent an extra 3 years in university as I was studying part time and centrelink revoked my youth allowance. I was literally getting paid nothing for months, and then they chased me up for a debt I did not owe when in fact they owed me money? Pure disgust from me.
Appalled that people who really needed that money, who are already at the bottom, are getting rinsed for every dollar they don't have. Centrelink is meant to help people who are struggling. You don't go on centrelink because you just feel like it - you are literally jobless, no money, stuck. It just infuriates me that the government are chasing the people with no money for money when we could be looking to close tax loopholes being exploited by companies who have money. It's a joke and it's not fair.