An 80-year-old supermarket worker says he was denied a pension from Centrelink over a decision more than seven decades ago.
An 80-year-old supermarket worker says she was denied a pension from Centrelink because of a name change made more than seven decades ago.
Joseph Finianos immigrated to Australia from Lebanon at the age of 22, and has paid his taxes ever since. But when he went to apply for a pension several years ago, he claims he was told “we can’t help you”.
Sydney man told nine of a current affair The problem dates back to 75 years when he was a young boy in the French colony of Lebanon, where a schoolteacher changed his first name from Joseph to Joseph to assimilate him into Western culture.
Upon his arrival in Australia he changed his maiden name to Joseph, but his birth certificate and passport retained the name Joseph.
He said that the difference in name did not allow him to get the pension and he found it difficult to do the necessary paperwork.
Mr Finianos said he was repeatedly told at Centrelink, “We cannot accept it.”
“Immigration will not give me citizenship with ‘Joseph’, only ‘Joseph’. So I have to keep working to pay my expenses and all that,” he said.
Contacted by the programme, Sentelink appointed Mr. Finianos to be a case manager and he was released after an identity expert proved that they were both Joseph and Joseph.
They have now been approved for pension and will start receiving payments soon.
“I still want to work at IGA in Bondi Beach, the people here are kind and like family,” he said.
“But I don’t want to work as hard, so now I can cut back on the hours.”
In a statement to Nine, Services Australia said it can only assess an age pension claim if the applicant “provides us with all the information we require”.
“This may include information about income and assets, identification documents, residence details and answers to all necessary questions in the claim,” the statement said.
“If we ask people for more information to support their claim and they do not provide it or contact us, their claim cannot be assessed. Whenever a person claims payment So we need to verify his identity. If they have changed their legal name, they have to provide supporting documents to prove it. This helps us protect customers from fraud.”