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B42/1992 GUIDELINES FOR PROCESSING NOTIFICATION OF CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCES RECEIVED BY TELEPHONE
DATE OF ISSUE:9 SEPTEMBER 1992
GUIDELINES FOR PROCESSING NOTIFICATION OF CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCES RECEIVED BY TELEPHONE
The purpose of this instruction is to specify guidelines for staff receiving notification of change of circumstances via the telephone.
2. When a notice is issued to a pensioner advising of his/her obligations to notify the Department of a change of event or change of circumstances, paragraph 54(4)(c) VEA provides that this request " must specify the period within which, and the manner in which the person is to give the information to the Department or the specified officer".
3. In June 1991, the Benefits Management Review of Efficiency (BMRE) recommended implementation of telephone notification for pensioner initiated reviews. The Repatriation Commission has approved this recommendation and notification of a change in circumstances over the telephone is now acceptable. It is no longer policy for service pensioners to always confirm such telephone advice in writing.
4. Chapter 13.5.2 of the current General Orders Service Pension states, "Where a person advises of a change by telephone, the person must be informed that details provided over the telephone will initiate review action but must be confirmed in writing as soon as possible". This will not be included in the re-written version of the General Orders.
5. This change in policy brings the Department in line with the Department of Social Security who will soon have teleservice centres available for their pensioners to notify of changes.
6. The obligations paragraph in the quarterly advices has already been altered to include telephone advice as an acceptable manner in which pensioners may notify the Department of any change to their circumstances. Daily and fortnightly automatic advices will also be amended. Some advices have been issued with the three acceptable forms of notification of a change but do not point out that in some cases telephone advice is not sufficient. The wording of all future advices (except the September 92 Quarterlies) will be changed to state that in some cases additional written advice may be required. The following wording is to be used in future advice letters:
When you are telling us of changes to your circumstances you should do this by telephoning or visiting any Department of Veterans' Affairs Office, or by writing to the Deputy Commissioner. The address and telephone number is noted at the beginning of this letter. If you telephone, we may ask you to confirm information in writing or to send us certain documents which are related to the matter.
7. Effective immediately, all staff are to accept notification of change of circumstances over the telephone, where appropriate. Occasionally, examiners will receive calls from family or other bona-fide representative of the pensioner such as solicitors, carers, etc. Notification of changed circumstances will be accepted from these callers.
8. The person making the call will be considered to be bona-fide unless there is any reason to believe otherwise. All callers (pensioners or representatives) should be able to satisfy at least two points on the Security Check part of the new form. The new form is at attachment A.
9. When verifying the caller's information against client records, two screens may need to be used. From a date in the near future the date of birth of the payee will not be displayed on the PMF. In some States the PMF address is not updated and so is not reliable. The account for payment details can be obtained from the PMF screen and address and date of birth from IQ.CR.
10. In all cases contact telephone numbers should be obtained. This will allow clarification of any matter that comes to light when the case is being actioned.
11. Please refer to paragraph 20 for additional security checks required when Method of Payment Changes are taken over the telephone.
PENSIONER INITIATED REVIEWS
12. All staff members are to accept Pensioner Initiated Reviews over the telephone, where appropriate. After completing the Caller Identity Check details of the matter are to be noted on the form. The new form has a series of quick reference text boxes that have been designed to reduce the amount of text that has to be hand written on the form. The use of this section of the form is not mandatory.
13. In each case the CM.IM screen should be accessed to see if there is any current action. If there is, it may be appropriate to transfer the call to that action officer.
14. There will be cases where confirmation in writing or other written material is needed, such as Tax Returns for the self employed and primary producers. Additional material is to be requested on a case by case basis, but is not required as a matter of course.
Registration of PIRs
15. All PIRs that result from a telephone call should be registered on the system using appropriate local procedures. The new form contains space to write the case number when the case is registered on the system.
16. Automatic Advices (or parts thereof) must not be suppressed when information has been received over the telephone. This includes "continuation" cases. Although income and asset details will not show on some advices, sending an advice will alert the payee that a change has been made and places the obligation on the pensioner to advise the Department if an error appears to have been made.
DEPARTMENTALLY INITIATED REVIEW
17. In each case of telephone advice the caller should be asked if the call is in response to a Departmentally initiated enquiry. If it is, the caller should be asked for the contact name on the advice or for the type of form they are responding to. If the caller dialled the correct contact number please do not attempt to transfer the call because that phone is probably engaged or otherwise not available. In some cases it may be appropriate to transfer the call to another section. In these cases, examiners should be mindful of "client service" and ensure that the caller is not transferred from one section to another. Some callers will wish to give information about two or more matters. For use in these cases space has been made available on the new form to indicate the section and action officer to whom the telephone message is to be referred.
CHANGES TO METHOD OF PAYMENT
18. Details of changes to method of payment are also to be taken over the telephone. However, in this instance examiners must exercise a higher degree of caution as this type of change is at a higher risk of fraud.
19. The existing locally produced forms, "Direct Credit - Amended Account Details" or similar should be used to record a change to Method of Payment taken over the telephone. It is proposed to centrally produce a new form for this purpose. The new form will be issued soon but separately to this instruction.
20. For security purposes the caller must be able to identify the old account number and date of birth or DVA file number. The pensioner's address and old account number only is not suitable for a MOP change because they appear in bank books. If the bank book had been stolen and because financial institution computer processing does not check the account name the system is open to fraud (until the pensioner contacts the Department about non receipt of payment or after the receiving the MOPC advice).
21. It is reasonable to accept telephone advice regarding a change in method of payment and it is not necessary for the pensioner to confirm the details in writing in the following circumstances:
22. It is not acceptable to take a change via the telephone if the caller advises that the new account is not in the payee's name. It should be remembered that in every case, be it personal, written or telephone there is no foolproof method of determining that the person is the person they say they are. It is fortunate that the system is designed so that any case of fraud will be found out in due course.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS
23. Change of residential and postal address will continue to be taken over the phone in accordance with existing local procedures and using existing forms. Local procedures should be established so that Pensions Section becomes aware of changes to rent paid or changes to residential situation that affect the rate of pension.
24. It remains a requirement that appeals be lodged in writing . However, should a pensioner telephone in an attempt to lodge an appeal details should be noted so that the delegate who made the primary level decision can contact the pensioner to explain the reason for the decision. In some cases the pensioner will not proceed with an appeal, but in no circumstance should the pensioner be discouraged from appealing or in any other way be denied the right to appeal.
25. Effective local procedures should be established so that all records of change in circumstances taken over the telephone are kept for possible future reference. The records may be necessary in Overpayment and Appeal cases.
26. Should you require further information please contact Ric Moore on (06)289 4739 fax (06)285 2669 or LAN B-SC-1:ACT:DVA.
NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR
ATTACHMENT TO THIS DEPARTMENTAL INSTRUCTION
(NOTE: This attachment has been rekeyed to enable it to be included on the General).
Record of Telephone Notification of Change of Circumstances
Pensioner's full name___________________________________DOB
Pensioner's address____________________________________Account for payment
File Number orAddress
or Service Number_______________
Name of caller________________________________
caller to pensioner________________________________Other ..............
Caller's phone number(____)____________Date call received//
Change of circumstances
Change to existing account investment — New account/investment — Change to earnings
Commencement of earnings — Change to rent paid — Change to rent received
Details of change of circumstances
Is there additional information attched? Yes — No
A copy of this notification has been sent to _____________________________________ for their action
Your name — _________________________________ — Markout ______________ CMS Case Number
Signature — _________________________________ — Date//________________
D ... Aug 1992