Centrelink hound disabled man’s mother for $6,700 six months AFTER he died – and tell her that she now owes them the money
- Anastasia McCardel received a call from Centrelink about her dead son’s debt
- Her son Bruce McCardel, however, had died in November 2018, aged 49
- Ms McCardel slammed Centrelink for handling her son’s case insensitively
- Department of Human Service has policy for recovering debts from dead
A grieving mother has slammed Centrelink for hounding her over her dead son’s alleged ‘debts’.
Bruce McCardel was a disability pensioner and suffered from Noonan syndrome, a genetic condition that affects the heart and other organs.
He tragically passed away in November 2018, aged 49.
But now his mother, Anastasia, says she had had a letter from Centrelink asking her to pay his ‘debts’ to the tune of $6,744.52.
‘It was basically along the lines of Bruce owed them money,’ she told 7.30.
‘She made out that I was responsible for those payments.’
Bruce McCardel died in November 2018, aged 49 and his mother was informed by Centrelink that he had a debt to pay
Ms McCardel slammed Centrelink for handling her son’s case insensitively and that they have not ‘done the right thing’
The letter was generated as part of Centrelink’s controversial ‘robodebt’ scheme, an automated service which matches income data from the Australian Tax officer to welfare payments.
Ms McCardel said the letter thanked her son for checking his income information.
‘I wanted to know how they thought Bruce would have worked his way through this paperwork when he was actually dead,’ she said.
‘I actually got quite angry.’
She added that her son always declared his income so had no idea how the debt had been calculated.
The Department of Human Service has a policy for recovering debts from deceased individuals.
Family members are contacted within four weeks of their relative passing and, where possible, debts are recovered from the dead person’s estate.
Centrelink employees are advised to ‘remember family members are grieving’ and to ‘check the text of the letter before posting to ensure it is appropriate to the situation’.
The Department of Human Service has a policy for recovering debts from deceased individuals
Ms McCardel slammed Centrelink for handling her son’s case insensitively and that they have not ‘done the right thing’.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services told 7.30 that they ensure a to provide a service when it comes to sensitive issues.
‘The department regularly looks closely at sensitive cases to see what could have been done better and to provide any additional support if required,’ they said.
The robo-debt scheme has been criticised many times by individuals who are targeted by Centrelink.
However, an Ombudsman’s 2019 report ‘shows we have significantly improved the the way debts are calculated and have greater access to support if they wish to have a debt reviewed.’
The report showed that complaints have reduced since 2017.