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Born with a severe disability, now Josh has to prove it

JOSH Miletic is one of the oldest living survivors of a rare genetic disorder called Ipex Syndrome that causes severe arthritis, diarrhoea, allergies, intellectual impairment and failure to thrive.

Every day is a struggle for him and he is on at least nine prescribed medications to help keep the symptoms in check.

The 22-year-old was born with Ipex Syndrome and, with no known cure, he is going to die with it.

Josh was one of 90,000 people to receive a letter from Centrelink saying it was reviewing the $700 a fortnight Disability Support Pension he receives and he must provide proof he is still eligible to qualify.

He was given just two weeks to obtain the necessary documentation proving his eligibility.

But then he received another blow.

Josh now has to attend a meeting at the Centrelink office in Maroochydore on October 25 where he will be assessed for his suitability to work.

Mum Anna, who cares for Josh, is both angry and devastated at the unnecessary anxiety the Federal Government's new requirements are causing.

"Josh is really stressing about it," she said.

"How is meeting the Centrelink requirements for work (and Newstart) going to fit in with all his (doctor's) appointments and medication requirements," she asked.

TRYING TIMES: Josh Miletic, pictured with his mother Anna, has to prove he can't work as part of a new government review even though he was born with severe disabilities.
TRYING TIMES: Josh Miletic, pictured with his mother Anna, has to prove he can't work as part of a new government review even though he was born with severe disabilities. Warren Lynam

Josh is no slouch, he volunteers when he can for garbage collector Remondis and he runs his own weather channel, Josh's all-round Weather (JAW).

"With his stress levels, this is going to send him backwards," Ms Miletic said.

"If they say he is well enough to work and then (his payment) is breeched because he doesn't turn up for a job interview (because of a health concern)."

Once Josh has paid for all his prescribed medicines and his doctors appointments, physiotherapists and counsellors, he has no change left over from his $700 a fortnight payment.

It's Josh's vibrant, lively and determined manner in the face of his serious health condition Ms Miletic fears will go against him.

"Because Josh walks and talks and is not in a wheelchair, I'm worried they will think 'we can get him a job'.

"But they are not taking the holistic side of Josh, they don't know him.

"Even his doctor has said this is bloody ridiculous.

"I understand a few people rort the system, but why can't they look at the medical files when there are long term histories (like Josh's) in place."

Should people with severe disabilities have to prove they are still eligible for government support?

This poll ended on 26 October 2016.

Yes. It's probably hard but how will the government know they are for real otherwise? - 5%

Yes, but surely there is an easier way to do it. - 11%

No. If they have a permanent condition they should only have to prove it once. - 83%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Ms Miletic says Josh isn't even the "worst story" of people who have been sent the letter from Centrelink to prove their disability.

"There are many others who are complaining about this," she said.

Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jorgen "apologised" if Josh's review had caused any distress or confusion.

"The reviews, announced in May 2016, are not about removing support from people who really need it. The reviews are being conducted to ensure that people continue to qualify for DSP," he said.

"People who receive DSP and meet the current manifest eligibility criteria are exempt from reviews. 

"We are very mindful of the needs of people with disabilities and are committed to ensuring welfare is targeted to those who need it.

"Eligibility criteria and specific details required to assess DSP claims have changed over the years. 

"We will address the concerns with Joshua's case and resolve any confusion as quickly as possible. 

Background to the Review: 

The Department of Human Services assesses DSP claims in accordance with the clear eligibility criteria set down in legislation.

As announced in the recent Budget, from 1 July 2016, there will be additional 30,000 medical reviews per annum of people receiving DSP.

The reviews, 90 000 in total, will take place over three years and will target DSP recipients who are most at risk of not meeting eligibility criteria.

The target group for this measure is current DSP recipients who have not been granted or medically reviewed in the past two years.  

Recipients will have a comprehensive review of their medical qualification for DSP. This means we will apply the current DSP qualification criteria to check continued eligibility for payment. This assessment is generally conducted in a face to face assessment with a qualified allied health professional.  

Only Disability Support Pension recipients who are under 35 years of age, do not have a dependent child under 6 years of age and who are assessed as having a work capacity of 8 hours or more per week, have participation requirements. We work with these customers to develop a Participation Plan to help them prepare for work or help find work.

Importantly, participation requirements do not apply to recipients who meet specific manifest criteria, or are employed under the Supported Wage System or in an Australian Disability Enterprise.    

Further information is available in the fact sheet at https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2016/160503_-_dsp_medical_reviews.pdf

Topics:  centrelink disability support pension editors picks


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