Friday, 17 January 2014

Sterling service

There are probably a lot of blog posts that complain about bureaucracy. I imagine that many are directed at foreign countries - or voice the complaints of expatriates who feel short changed by the home country. This post is to point to the huge difference between the pensions service of the country I chose (Canada) over the country I was born in (UK).

Nearly a year ago I got a letter from the Canadian government advising me that I should apply for Old Age Security - a year ahead of the date when I would qualify for it. I did so immediately. Since then I have heard exactly nothing. Not an acknowledgement. Not a word.

Contrast that with The Pension Service in Newcastle Upon Tyne. They wrote at Christmas - three months before my 65th birthday. They wanted me to send them my birth certificate and answer some questions. So I did that and sent it by mail just before New Year. Today I got my original documents back - also by mail with a nice letter saying that my UK Old Age Pension would be credited to my bank account four weeks after my 65th birthday at the end of February. Given the time it takes for dead tree mail to get to England and back again, I reckon my form was read and dealt with the day it arrived and sent back with all my documents a few days later.

So I know now how much OAP I am going to get. OAS - not a word. Nothing. So I called Service Canada and they stick to the line that I will be informed by letter no later than one month before the date when benefits are to start. Oh Canada!

UPDATE March 13

From the original Service Canada letter
"First we review your application to confirm if you are eligible to receive OAS benefits and send you a letter informing you of the decision. We will send you this letter no later than one month prior to the date when your benefits are to start". So that date was 27 February. And no letter had arrived. So I called Service Canada today and they said they had sent a quite different letter yesterday. It contains a questionnaire that I must complete and return. Apparently they think my home address is different to my mailing address. So I went back to the My Service Canada web page to check - and they have my current address correctly. If it is right on their web page, why do I have to fill in a form? And where do you think they sent the questionnaire? Guess we will have to wait a while to find that out.

Further update March 16

So the questionnaires arrived today, at my home address. They ask why do I have a different home and mailing address. I don't. Its just taken over a year for them to process my application and in that time I moved. They also want me to complete an application for GIS. Which I would not qualify for if I did apply - so I am not going to. They also want to know if I have been out of the country for more than 90 days in the last ten years. Answer, no. And a statutory declaration of a common law union. I spoke to someone at Service Canada again and he agreed that none of this should be necessary but the officer in question is not going to look at the file again until mid April and will need paper replies to these questions. And the OAS when I finally get it will be back dated.

By the way, the first payment of my UK OAP arrived yesterday.

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