‘I’m broken’: Woman’s battle to get disability pension
A Gladstone woman has claimed her application for a disability pension was denied after Centrelink found out she hadn't been taking medication for mental health.
Kim Coleman has lived with scoliosis and osteoporosis in her back for most of her life.
The debilitating condition often leaves Ms Coleman bedridden and unable to work leaving her 13-year-old son to take care of her.
Ms Coleman has tried to get on the pension for the past four years, however she said her recent application was denied after the organisation found out she had stopped taking medication for anxiety and depression.
"I didn't really want to be fully medicated on depression pills because I knew a few people who were on it and they were suicidal," Ms Coleman said.
"This is what they are grabbing at, that I refuse to take the full dose of the medication that I was prescribed which has nothing to do with my back or capability of working.
"Even if I take the full dose, that is not going to stop the fact that I can't work."
Ms Coleman said she's had several chiropractors, specialists and doctors telling her she can't work.
Ms Coleman's current doctor even had proof of her condition to send to Centrelink, however the organisation had not been in contact with him, despite Ms Coleman signing a form allowing her doctor to provide health records.
"My doctor asked 'how do you survive?', and I said 'you just got to keep going, don't you?'" she said.
Services Australia general manager Hank Jongen said Centrelink was working with Ms Coleman to ensure she received all the help it could offer.
"While we can't go into the details of Ms Coleman's case, we sympathise with how difficult it must be to live with her conditions," Mr Jongen said.
"We are working with Ms Coleman to ensure she understands her next steps and receives all the help we can offer.
"We do not have any discretion to grant payments outside the very clear criteria set down in legislation."
Mr Jongen said it was important people submited all supporting evidence when making a claim as it helped Centrelink assess their situation and make the best decision based on their circumstances.
"As with all decisions Services Australia makes, if a customer needs more information to understand the decision, or disagrees with it, they can contact the agency on their regular payment line," he said.
"Staff will explain the reason behind the decision and if the customer disagrees with this, they can ask for a review.
"A person can also lodge a new claim for DSP if their circumstances change, if a condition deteriorates, or they have new medical evidence.
"We encourage them to provide this new information to us so we can assess the best support for their circumstances."
Ms Coleman has asked for a review but was waiting to hear back from the organisation.
"They just don't care," she said.
"I've been fighting this for four years, I'm broken and they are just not acknowledging it."