Phillipa’s Story

Phillipa’s Story

I never once questioned whether they would accept my application for disability, I always assumed that based on the criteria and my conditions that I was clearly eligible and would receive the Disability Support Pension. I first began experiencing symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia when I was in my twenties and was formally diagnosed at 31. During this time, I was scared, dealing with horrific, disabling symptoms, grieving the person I was and a career and friends I had to let go of – I honestly thought that Centrelink would act in my best interest.

I submitted my application to the best of my ability and trusted it was enough. I followed up all the time to see if they needed more information or if there was anything else I could get them to help the process along. Each time I contacted Centrelink they said they would be in touch if they needed anything else. When I contacted the Centrelink Call Centre I was constantly on hold and hung up on. Despite being limited in my functioning I would go in to my local office as it was easier and I thought if they saw how sick I was face to face they could speed things up. That didn’t work and the inconsistency of the advice received and staff knowledge was hard to manage. I was being told different things by different people.

I applied in early 2017 and was rejected in September 2017 due to insufficient medical evidence. I appealed with the new information and followed up constantly. Eventually in July 2018 I found out that my application was again denied. Eventually my father contacted our local MP and my local MP advocated for me with Centrelink. Centrelink escalated my application. All this effort resulted in Centrelink advising me to make a fresh application for the DSP but I’m too traumatised to be honest to open that door again. The whole situation has been incredibly stressful and confusing.

It may seem hard to understand why I don’t make a fresh application for the DSP. The experience with Centrelink – making me go to job search providers who were just shocked I was there, telling me I should be on the DSP but that they also couldn’t help me achieve that.

I still can’t quite understand how an agency that is there to support you when you really need it was so inconsistent and careless in their advice both in person and over the phone. They should have done more, if they had communicated effectively with me from the beginning and provided the right advice my stress and trauma levels would be drastically reduced. The stress and trauma I experienced as a person with a disability applying for a Disability Support Pension was so extreme that I cannot face that again

I am currently on Newstart, but I am exempted from the requirement to look for work as I am too unwell. I often have to sleep 20 hours a day whilst suffering from a vast array of symptoms that continue to affect my daily functioning and physical and cognitive output.


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