centrelink wait times 68 days age pension

The average processing time for claims with Services Australia has continued to rise steadily since the start of the decade. Services Australia chief executive officer David Hazlehurst reported the latest numbers at the Senate Estimates meeting last week showing the average days to process an Age Pension payment had grown to 68 days, almost 5 times more than the FY 2020-21 average of 14 days. 

During the meeting, Mr Hazlehurst suggested that reducing the backlog is a critical issue currently being addressed by Services Australia, but that current resource levels are not allowing for a reduction in processing times. Mr Hazlehurst did point out that 3,000 additional staff are in the pipeline and are expected to come online in the next few months that should result in decreased wait times on claims and an increase in the average speed-of-answer on Services Australia phone numbers. 

The table below, using data disclosed by Services Australia during Senate Estimates on 25 October 2023 and 14 February 2024, shows the average number of days taken to process an Age Pension claim.

Age PensionAverage Days to process
FY 2020-2114
FY 2021-2235
FY 2022-2333
2023-24 1 July to 31 Aug61
2023-24 1 Sept to 31 Dec68

Beat the wait times

These wait times will cause significant financial stress for many people.  It is important therefore that you don’t add to the delays.  There are a couple of things you can do:

Firstly, while you need to be of Age Pension age (67 for those born after 1 January 1957) in order to qualify for the Age Pension,  you can apply up to 13 weeks beforehand. This means you can reduce the time you will have to wait after you become age eligible. 

Also, if you are still working and you have already reached Age Pension age, then you can apply before you actually stop work. When it comes to the declaration of income, you are able to insert your full work income and this will be used in the income calculation to determine if it is below the income limit. Or if within the next two weeks you will be stopping or reducing work hours (and thus earning less income) then you can declare this expected lower amount.

Finally do everything you can to ensure you have all the supporting and evidence to support your claim included with your application.  You don’t want your application to be delayed because you have made an error.  Need some help to navigate your application – or lack of success so far? Steven and his team are experts at knowing the rules and how they apply in individual circumstances. For the short term at least, Retirement Essentials expects wait and processing times at Centrelink to get even longer as staff cope with both the current backlog and the onboarding of new staff. We can’t speed up Centrelink but we can help you get your application into the queue as quickly as possible if you need any assistance.