Anne Hawkins, who is largely bed-bound, received the letter at the end of July, one month after Sydney went into lockdown due to the deadly Delta outbreak.
Francis Hawkins, Anne’s son, told 10 News Anne was required to present a driver’s licence, student ID or foreign passport, none of which she has.
Calls to Centrelink failed to provide answers.
While the family struggled for answers, the wheels of politics began turning. Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke raised the matter in parliament.
“Why did the Morrison government tell Anne from Punchbowl, who is in lockdown, that she would lose her pension if she didn’t provide proof-of-age documents, which she does not have, given she is 102, bed-bound, and has been a pensioner for 40 years?”
Burke continued, “If it were not for the intervention of my office, she would have had to travel in an ambulance to services NSW to keep her pension.”
Minister for Families and Social Services Stuart Robert said Centrelink is trying to get to the bottom of why the documentation was required, but was unable to provide more detail.
Francis said the letter could have been automatically generated and had echoes of Robodebt, the government scheme that was later deemed unlawful.
“Anne was not particularly distressed,” said Francis. “I was more distressed.”
The family told Anne as little as possible of the matter, but when they did reveal the news, Anne didn’t miss a beat.
“I’ve got to get a job,” she told 10 News.