PENSIONERS affected by the Banksia collapse will have to wait until Centrelink receives advice from the company’s receivers before their pension can be increased.
A Centrelink spokeswoman said yesterday it had to await for advice from McGrathNicol before reassessing pensioners’ entitlements.
The statement has prompted fears among local pensioners that they face a long wait on a reduced income before the loss of their income from Banksia is recognised and Centrelink lifts their pension.
Among those affected are Warrnambool couple Chris and Eleonora Symmonds, who had invested $62,800 in Banksia. The regular interest they received from it reducing their pension.
Mr Symmonds said he had gone to Centrelink’s Warrnambool office on Monday to see if the likely loss of income from Banksia could be recognised by Centrelink but was told the office had not yet been notified it could do so.
Mrs Symmonds said the loss of income from Banksia should be treated the same as any other loss of income to benefit recipients.
“Whenever there is a change in your income, you go to Centrelink and let them know and they adjust it (your benefit) pro rata,” she said.
The Centrelink spokeswoman said it was awaiting more information from McGrathNicol on the status of investments, including the possibility that investors might be able to access their funds in the future.
The spokeswoman said Centrelink would help people affected by the Banksia collapse and discuss their eligibility for pensions on a case-by-case basis.
Pensioners affected should contact the Centrelink Financial Information Service on 132 300 to see if they qualified for assistance.
Penisoners who had Banksia accounts into which their pensions were paid should contact Centrelink to organise new accounts.
Advances on pensions might be available for pensioners who required immediate funds, the spokeswoman said.
People with little or no access to funds because of the Banksia collapse could test their eligibility for government assistance under hardship provisions.
Meanwhile, the receivers for Banksia Securities yesterday announced another company in the Banksia financial group, the Cherry Fund Limited (CFL), went into receivership yesterday, owing approximately $10 million to investors.
McGrathNicol said it had been appointed receivers.