What you need to know about Centrelink, Medicare strike

NORTHERN Rivers customers of Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support are reminded to use online and self-service options to check their reporting obligations and payments ahead of next week's planned industrial action.

All service centres and most phone lines providing Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services will be closed next Monday to Wednesday (December 26 to 28), and the following Monday (January 2, 2017).

Services may also be affected by industrial action next Thursday (December 29) and Friday (December 30).

"It's really unfortunate this industrial action is right in the middle of the public holidays," Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said.

"We're asking customers to plan ahead so they're not caught out.

"If there are disruptions on Thursday and Friday next week, they will be to our telephone and face to face services.

"The union is penalising some of the most disadvantaged people in the community by pressing for this action at these times.

"We're asking customers to defer any non-urgent business or use the self-service options available through myGov and the Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support mobile apps.

"Our priority is to help those in the greatest need and with urgent enquiries. People who need to speak to us can phone, they just need to know this may take longer due to the industrial action."

Those visiting a service centre should be aware some smaller sites may not open on December 29 and 30.

"We will provide as much notice as possible of any service disruptions, and encourage people to regularly check humanservices.gov.au/servicechanges for updates," Mr Jongen said.

"While the industrial action won't affect payments, some customers may receive theirs early due to the special holiday arrangements already in place for the holiday season.

"It's important to remember an early payment is not an extra payment - it's just your normal payment paid early. You may need to budget carefully so this payment lasts until your next payment is due.

"If you are due to report on a holiday closure date, you may need to report early. Your payment will be made after you have reported.

"You can check your reporting date on your reporting statement, which is displayed on your myGov and Centrelink online account, or phone self-service. We would have also sent you a reminder.

"While your reporting date may be different, the assessment period remains the same. You still need to report estimates of earnings and other changes for your normal 14 day assessment period.

"There are no changes to child support arrangements, however payments made after 22 December may be delayed by public holidays.

"People can continue to lodge Medicare claims at their doctor's office or using self-service.

"Critical services for Medicare providers such as organ donor and PBS authorities will remain available over the Christmas/New Year period."

People can transfer funds to their BasicsCard throughout the holiday period by using self-service or calling 1800 132 594 between 8am - 5pm.

BasicsCard balances can be checked at any time by calling 1800 057 111.

Information on holiday period reporting and payment dates is available at humanservices.gov.au/holidays

Information on digital self-service options is available at humanservices.gov.au/selfservice

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