Well that’s that then

Yesterday marked the blessed end to school holidays. Aren’t they a funny thing? They arrive and we all have a kick in our step about sleep-ins, not having to make school lunches and no notes for two weeks, forgetting all of our children will be in our presence all of the time. Fast forward to the end of those two weeks and we’re ready to neck ourselves if someone tells us they’re hungry or asks what there is to eat one.more.time.

The day was marred by work and having Grover home sick, which he wasn’t really but by the time I realised that it was too late.

I had glorious plans for the first day of solace, the main being getting my eyebrows tended to at Benefit. Instead I spent more than an hour at Roads and Maritime Services (seriously, who put boats and cars into the one department?) getting new eToll tags and time in Kmart choosing undies for the big boys. Envy me at your leisure.

Anyway, everyone’s back today and I shall celebrate by working and watching an episode of House of Cards (ZOMG House of Cards, how GOOD are Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright).

 

Onward


Disability benefits when your child turns 16

Oscar was 16 in February and I had no idea what that meant when it came to Centrelink and the payments and services we get from it.

In a nutshell, when your child turns 16 you’ll need to:

  • get their student number (from school records)
  • get them a tax file number
  • get them a proof of age card
  • apply for the
    - disability support pension
    - pension education supplement,
    - mobility allowance, and
    - authorisation to act on their behalf.
    OR
    - a new health care card if not applying for the pension

 

The first contact we had with Centrelink was a few months before he turned 16. Essentially it was confirming he was turning 16 and that he was staying in school. You will need their student number and to be honest I can’t remember where I got it from. If you ring their school they would be able to provide it.

There was a confusing section of the form which referred to Year 12 and seeing as he was starting Year 10 I rang them to clarify just what I should put there. They advised me what to do and I sent the form off.

The next correspondence I got was that we would no longer receive any Family Assistance for him as he had completed Year 12.

A phone call to them and them taking almost 15 minutes to resolve the problem. Clearly the form is poorly worded as it was an issue she knew would take some time to rectify.

She also said I’d called before it became set/official and therefore harder to change. There was nothing on the form alerting me to that, so, if you have problems or disagree with what they’ve done ring them straight away.

I should stop here and say every single interaction I have had with Centrelink has always been with staff who are clearly competent and doing their utmost to help you.

Next.

If you have a health care card for your child it will automatically stop when they turn 16 without telling you. 

You need to reapply for it. I’m not sure if there are different forms for different applicants but our form was called “Application for a Health Care Card for former recipients of a Carer Allowance Health Care Card”. You can access the form here. The form’s code is SS456.

However, if you’re on the ball and applying for the pension as soon as they turn 16, the pension gives them a health care card with a heap more benefits so applying for a new one would be redundant.

 

The Disability Support Pension

You are eligible for the disability support pension if

  • you’re aged 16 or more, are blind or have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability.
  • you are unable to work, or to be retrained for work, for 15 hours or more per week at or above the relevant minimum wage within the next two years because of your “impairment” or
  • you’ve been assessed as having a severe impairment or as having actively participated in a program of support.

There are different pension amounts depending on your circumstance. For Oscar – under 21, single, living at home – he will get $345 a fortnight.

I’m only talking about this from my experience and specifically about a 16 year old – this is by no means advice, just a heads up as to what we have experienced. Take from it what you will.

 

I rang Centrelink disability line – 132 717 – to get the forms sent out to us. Remember, call right on 8:30 unless you have a LOT of spare time to sit on hold.

 

They will not automatically send the forms out when your child turns 16, you have to instigate the process.

 

Also note that when you get the forms they give you a deadline to submit them. I essentially had three days due to Easter and the ANZAC day long weekend.

 

Applying for the disability support pension is an undertaking. The form is incredibly comprehensive (30+ pages). There is also a medical report booklet and an income and assets booklet. I baulked at the income and assets booklet but one of the service staff, while commiserating with me, said the form covers everyone from 16 up to when the age pension kicks in so it has to cover absolutely every scenario. I think this is a pretty large flaw in the application process but there you have it.

 

Within the form there are also questions for a mobility allowance and the pension education supplement (PES) (which is worth an extra $64 a fortnight). You need to download and fill in the PES form from here.

 

Things you will need for the disability support pension application:

You’ll need their school student number, ring the school to get this as I didn’t have any documentation with such a number.

You need enough forms of identification for your child that adds up to 100 points. Their birth certificate is only worth 70 points, a bank statement is worth 40, a proof of age form is also 40 points. A student ID card, three school reports for different years or semesters  or a medicare card  are worth 20 points each.

We’re off to the RTA this afternoon to get Oscar’s proof of age. I figure this will be good to have anyway. (Update: we got it and it cost $39 for five years.)

School reports that indicates their IQ, capacity for independent living and other associated problems. At Oscar’s school there is an independent transition plan which is very thorough and clinical. Oscar’s school report runs 15 pages long. I gave them both.

And the kicker – a tax file number (TFN). You can apply for this online. Because Centrelink and the ATO talk to each other we just provided a print out of our TFN application and that was enough.

The medical form

I was pretty cranky about having to do this, considering we’d just done a doctor’s report late last year. Luckily, it turned out we didn’t because he was 16 and his “only” disability is intellectual and he attends a special school and we could provide school reports which indicate his IQ, capacity for independent living and other “associated problems”.

I suspect we also didn’t have to because of the recent nature of our last doctor report but don’t quote me on that.

Income and Assets

Basically the only thing we filled in on this form was Oscar’s bank details. Everything else was ticked no. I think if you’ve got a trust for your child or other assets it’s a whole other story. The form is incredibly comprehensive.

 

You’ll also need to fill in the “Authorising a person or organisation to enquire or act on your behalf” form. This gives you the right to act on their behalf. Download it here.

 

And you’re done.

Take everything in to Centrelink – so you’ll have:

  • The disability support pension form (completed with their TFN)
  • The income and assests form
  • The medical report (if necessary)
  • Birth Certificate (I also took mine in just in case. I can’t remember if she needed it/looked at it)
  • Other identity forms: eg medicare card, proof of age card, bank statements
  • Pension Education Supplement form
  • School reports from three different semesters (if applicable – for evidence you don’t need the medical form)
  • Authorisation to act on their behalf form

 

ONWARD!

 


Fickle. Just a little bit.

Talking about how fussy your kids are at eating is the great leveler of parenting. Those with kids who hoover anything know they are blessed and rarely crow about this most delicious of victories for fear it will all come tumbling down over something being green, too spicy, too brown, too thick, too orange or too hard.

I have one fussy eater. The air eater Jasper. He was such a good eater. Until he was 2. That kid lived on white bread and mayonnaise sandwiches for the better part of three years.

But when we start baring down in this concept of fussy I realise this family is kicking it out of the park.

Oscar will literally eat anything that isn’t bolted down except if it is spicy. Currently the favourite (except we’re seriously considering locks on the fridge and pantry to cease his dawn raids. True story.).

Felix will similarly fight you for food but doesn’t like saucey things like casseroles. He does however love a curry so that rule is clearly made to be broken. He hates risotto. He doesn’t care for peas but will eat them if pressed. Mushrooms are also not preferred.

It’s easier to list the foods Jasper does eat than the ones he doesn’t but lets just say anything green is out. EXCEPT he loves pesto. I swear to God these kids are solely on this earth to fuck with my mind.

Grover doesn’t like pizza, lasagne or spaghetti bolognese. He clearly missed Child Palate 101. He is dubious of most foods but ends up eating them because there are only so many nights a week you can eat an apple for dinner.

It was wandering around my local Woollies tonight that I realised while I will eat anything and a bucket load of it, I too am fairly pernickety about what I will and will not eat. While I like eggplant that’s been thinly sliced and chargrilled or deepfried in a fiery szechuan sauce I can not abide by it in chunk form. Similarly I struggle with zucchini and any form of squash. Asian greens except for Chinese Broccoli – in which the stem is the best bit – are simply vile. I can’t really come at smoked salmon but finely diced and mixed through cream cheese with shallots on sandwiches and I’m your gal. I’m really not a fan of casseroles and view the best part of them being the entire loaf of bread you consume “mopping up the juices”. And really this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Chef hates capsicum to the point at one restaurant he created a menu that had no capsicum on it anywhere.

So really, it’s quite something I get any dinner onto the table at all.

Happy Easter all.

 

Onward.


RaRas

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We’ve become a rugby union family and that’s that. We have tried all the codes and arrived at union and nothing could make me happier. The season is just getting underway and so far all games have involved rain and biting wind. Perfect rugby weather.

Grover is as obsessed with rugby this season as he was with cricket in summer. His coach told me on the weekend he’s the best player on the team because he concentrates. Ahhh, so many other codes, so many of my other children sitting on the field picking blades of grass. I don’t care its the U7s, I’m taking that pass for parental gloating and running with it. He won man of the match last week so his coaches comment allayed my fears he may have peaked too early.

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Felix is U14s this year and there’s just a bit more pressure and expectation on them all. They were season premiers last year so there is a reputation to uphold. He trains 4 times a week, twice at school, once with reps, once with club and loves all of it. To me he’s evidence of a teenage feeling – and being – connected in a way that makes them feel good about themselves and a part of something. Off he goes, size 12 boots and all.

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So why have I fallen so hard for this sport? I think the first sign I had was Felix’s very first game. He came off after a couple of minutes and the age manager got down to Felix’s height and gave him the biggest rap. A pep talk with praise and advice. I was sold. Then there was the fact Felix was good at it, that helped I guess.

Did I tell you about the time we went to Maroubra to visit M and went for a swim? Oscar disappeared on me which was alarming until there he was, standing with one of the lifeguards directing people in the ocean to move back towards the flags. Grover turned to me and said, “Oscar makes friends wherever he goes”. Never a truer word was spoken.

All of Felix’s team mates have always accepted Oscar, none of them “briefed”, just a simple case of “that’s Oscar, Felix’s brother”. At rugby he stands with Felix’s coach no matter what. Rain, sunshine, good match or bad Oscar is there and C doesn’t mind one bit. So this season he approached me and said he had a spare jersey and would it be OK to give it to Oscar. WOULD IT.

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Onward.


Stuff and Nonsense

I’m working on a new project that has my stress levels in the category of stratospheric but the phrase “just think of the money” is keeping me going. When I first landed the gig, which I got after cold calling a guy I went to uni with, I totally freaked the fuck out. Of course my FTFO is so stellar I jump straight from “why, I’m feeling a tad stressed about this new project, which is a completely normal emotion” in about 1 millionth of a second to “I’m just going to kill myself because everyone would be better off that way”. Incredibly I’m five weeks into the 12 week project and am a) still alive and b)not as suicidal. Good times. Also, just think of the money.

We’ve just wrapped up the first term of our school year. First term is hard. For starters it features the hottest and most humid of months along with the brutal re-entry from 6 weeks of holidays. There’s new teachers to adjust to, new routines and the whole begrudging trudge back into the land of school lunches, 5,000 notes and late night washing for a clean uniform the following day.

Oscar’s still on his long term (3 month) antibiotic regime to ward off the not-but-maybe-osteomylitis-always-cellulitis but has tonight come down with a wicked temperature and head-ache. In a normal child this is called a virus. In Oscar it’s called CODE RED HIGH ALERT. I will look anxiously at his left ankle, the offender, in the morning as tonight it was not hot, red, or swollen. While I am wishing this to be some bog standard ailment or flu, my friend J just had a flu so violent it was named the black death vomit. I’m not wishing for that either.

Felix had his first Duke of Edinburgh camp last weekend. It rained on them for about 12 hours the first day and at that stage they all hated it with a passion. The next day gave them a weather reprieve and firmly planted the adventure back into the category of awesome. I am so so stoked Felix is doing DofE and thrilled he got as much from it as he did. This was a test hike with a staff member hiking with them. The real deal later in the year will be groups of them going out on their own. I think as a parent I’m meant to feel apprehensive about that but curiously, no. Just lots of excitement for him.

Jasper. Well Jasper spent the entire duration of Grover’s rugby game in the car colouring in. The kid has smarts, it rained on us three times. He’s learning guitar and a teacher change mid-term saw his attitude towards it change markedly. He doesn’t want to play rugby or any other sport (he did an 8-week cricket thing with Grover but I think that was more on the fact they got a shirt, hat and bat than any great love of the game) but was gutted last week when his best-rusted-on-friend-for-life was picked for a school team and he wasn’t.

Grover’s obsession has moved on from cricket to rugby with the change of season. He won man of the match in their first game last week and my concerns he might have peaked early abated with his performance on the field this morning. He’s such a cracker of a kid. I refused to lie down with him at bedtime a few nights back because, well I just didn’t want to, and he wailed and carried on like I’d amputated the wrong leg. By the time I went back up there he was a hot steaming mess of tears and snot. He clung to me and said, “I just needed a friend to help me go to sleep.” “Am I your friend?” “Yes”. Kid has me wrapped around his little finger.

Onward.

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