Disability pension

Brenda5Brenda5 Burrum Heads, QldMember Posts: 2,245

I am currently applying for a disability pension with my husband as my carer.

I just cannot figure out how I would get a job in the first place.

I used to buy and renovate houses but my main arm now has lymphedema so even using a hand saw for any length of time is out. I thought about retraining and perhaps doing a course in selling real estate but I have little short term memory courtesy of chemo brain which looks like instead of the one year to recovery may be the 4 to 10 years’ time frame.

My nearest town is 40 mins drive away and with my hubby driving I cannot stay awake in the car either to or from town so driving myself to even volunteer clothes sorting or something menial like that is out.

With all of this I have developed depression and I requested to see a psychiatrist who has put me on some medication. This medication also makes me not so much tired but a little disoriented and 'chilled'. Just walking alongside the road in the supermarket carpark my husband had to take my hand yesterday as I was sort of drifting over in front of cars driving past. In the shopping centre, every one passing by me and walking to and fro in front of me had me a little disoriented and my big son had to take my hand and lead me to where we were going.

At least I am sleeping better now with no panic attacks from dreams I can’t remember. I only keep waking now from bone aches which is annoying. 

Apparently it is pretty difficult to get on a disability pension nowadays so I will let you know how we get on.



  • iserbrowniserbrown Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,437
    Brenda - you must be saying to yourself how did my life get so complicated medically! 
    I do hope you find some peace in your treatment regime and you are able to get on top of this and live that somewhere near normal life you had prior to BC
    Take care and sending you a virtual hug
  • MiraMira I live in my computer .... Member Posts: 503
    Hey Brenda, good luck with it.  As you said its very difficult to get on it these days, and they are also reviewing lots of people to try and take them off it. 
  • TonyaMTonyaM Member Posts: 2,583
    edited April 2017
    It's a points system Brenda and if you get letters from your doctors confirming depression, lymphoedema,chemo brain etc you may find it adds up.Good luck
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 2,711
    You heading down a road some of the rest of us will have to travel. Good luck. Xxx
  • fairydustfairydust Member Posts: 290
    Hi Brenda good luck. Dealing with centerlink is a nightmare. My husband was allocated a carers allowance but I wasnt given a disability pension. If you are not successful it wont be because you dont deserve it ,it is their rules and regulations and how you fit in to their criteria.
     Mention the side effects of the medication to your psychiatrist. They may prescribe another medication or reduce the dose you are taking.  
    I found the people I dealt with at centerlink good but the system is terrible. Lets hope they see reason. 
    Nothing lasts forever. Over time things do pick up. Like the shampoo commercial it wont happen overnight but it will happen .Heres to your health improving and better days

  • SheranSheran Orange NSWMember Posts: 19
    Hello Brenda I find that meds like Arimidex and Femara also add to the problem of chemo brain and exhaustion.
    I work for a government department as a telephonist, I wear a headset, I found what I was hearing from the caller in the headset was not coming out in my typing! to such an extent I thought my cancer had spread to my brain so my GP sent me for a brain scan. Only then did my oncologist agree to change the Arimidex to Femara.
    I am still so tired on the Femara I have to force myself to get up and do anything; but at least my memory isn't as bad as it was...
    also excercising is great for lymphodema, stretching and walking especially - that is something else you have to force yourself to do! Walking especially gives you more energy and really helps to get your body's lymphatic system back into gear.
    good luck to you and take care
  • melclaritymelclarity Member Posts: 3,320
    @Sheran i totally ahree on Arimidex i cant get my thoughts through my mouth its so noticeable and im so articulate usually. 

    @Brenda5 I  looked into it and it is difficult you can Google the criteria for disability pension and Breast cancer. Absolutely get letters from everyone oncologist and surgeon, GP. My Oncologist did a report to my insurance company for income protection because they want you back at work!! Now!! Interesting he stated to them that exercise is good but will not rehabilitate me back into my job and the other was whilst im on Arimidex particularly and side effects from it i wont be full capacity and said 5yrs plus however long im on this medication. Thing is it runs out jan 2018 then what? Bad luck i have to go back full time anyway theres no assistance. So im reassessing what im going to do as i support myself so its hard!! 
  • Brenda5Brenda5 Burrum Heads, QldMember Posts: 2,245
    edited April 2017
    I filled in all the forms and got letters from my oncology, eye specialist and gp and physio. Psychiatrist had only just met me and put me straight on to depression meds but wouldn't yet do a letter. Done all the financial information including a declaration that we no longer own a block of land sold 16 years ago! Sheesh.
    Hubby has been given the carers payment for both dad and me but I haven't heard yet if my application is successful. If it does get granted I will display the list of ailments letter I gave to all my drs to do their letters from. ;)
  • Karen_CKaren_C Member Posts: 68
    Hi Brenda,
    Tonya is right.   I had to get two letters to get on the pension.   Mind you its mean tested and my husband works, so I am getting $110 per month!  However the health card does bring some benefits.   I was hoping that going on the pension, would lead to some casual work as employers get incentives to take on disabled people.   If you managed to get your pension, the system is to register with employment agencies who place disabled people.   Unfortunately most of us are not overtly impaired, so they don't know what to do with us and also our working future can be disrupted.  They are used to dealing with physically or mentally handicapped people.   I don't know whether the NCIS authority can help.   I intend to seek them out after Easter.  Let you know how I get on.  As you have lymphedema I would think you should get some assistance.   I got onto the pension because I have brain mets.  All the best.
  • Brenda5Brenda5 Burrum Heads, QldMember Posts: 2,245
    Well it is 6 months since I applied to Centerlink and over a month ago since I had a job assessment interview with one of their psychologists where I broke down in tears during the interview. I haven't heard any news at all.
    I couldn't continue the  psychiatrists depression medication due to the excessive side effects and now only take a tiny dose of medicinal cannabis oil once a day. It is helping my brain I feel but thinking and remembering is still a struggle. Gosh I took a lot of things for granted in my life before!
    I feel so trapped atm. I would dearly love to get my own little car, be able to drive it wherever I want, get some training and have a job or even a small business but I have no idea how to go about it while this Tamoxifen shreds my brain and messes with my body temp all the time. Yes, for most the hot flashes settle but for some like me they just never do.
    I am grateful so far this winter I have managed to avoid any nasty flu bugs as I think with my low immunity it would set me back. Just getting a little suspicious freckle removed from my leg took three whole weeks before the stitches were removed. I seem to be living in slow motion.
  • iserbrowniserbrown Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,437
    Oh goodness! 
    Maybe it is a time for review of Tamoxifen - the issues you mention I don't have, how fortunate am!  
    Perhaps a change of brand of Tamoxifen may help - mine is Sandoz

    Take care
  • melclaritymelclarity Member Posts: 3,320
    Brenda, I am so sorry to hear of this plight still you are on. I too am wondering, is it an option to discuss changing your medication? I was on Tamoxifen for 4yrs and can say I had zero side effects but I was pre menopausal then. You had chemo in October 2015? I had mine in August 2015. January 2016 I was placed on Arimidex but before being on anything through chemo I plummeted into horrendous menopause as is usual, so my hot flushes have had nothing to do with the medication. My side effects of joint pain and muscle was shocking, so much so that my Oncologist trialed me 6 weeks off Arimidex and keep a diary, there was a difference in pain. He then changed and Im now on Aromasin, they are very similar...however this is what I believe....For me??? Chemo has taken 2yrs to get to quite a good normality, I have limited pain now, due to Aromasin? NO I don't believe so, I think a combination of side effects of Chemo are continually lessening. I've been on Magnesium, Vit D, Vit C for 18 months. The hot flushes have lessened, but even when I stopped meds for 6 weeks I had them?? I have also been lucky to work with an exercise physiologist through my income protection and its all just been stretching not alot more. I had to learn to walk again thats how severe I was, mentally well don't have to tell you how beaten I felt. All these things and time have given me much improvement. Something that surprised me was, I didnt care to go back to work, but I did Jan 2016 3 days a week and til now apart from mastectomy/diep flap recon in feb this year I had 3 months off and now am 3 weeks off post revision was another hefty surgery. An OT that was organised said how important it was mentally for me to go back to work...I scoffed!!! but she works with people for a living in all arenas. I did go back and I agree mentally I've become sharper, less stumbling in my thoughts and getting my words out.  I had chemo brain BAD!!!!! but Ive noticed a significant improvement. 

    Brenda we are absolutely all different and I don't suffer from Lymphedema so that's hard! I do Elevate on my phone, brain training is another good thing on a Nintendo DS. 

    I'd definitely speak to your oncologist about changing your medication and see if it helps, time will I believe help alot. I did look at one point at Disability but there was no way I'd be accepted even after a recurrence, unless I was terminal...it's ridiculous as there are many facets to not being able to work. It's hard!!! 

    Let us know how you go, thinking of you Brenda,

    Melinda xo
  • Summerhill38Summerhill38 Member Posts: 766
    Hi Brenda5
    Goodness, you are having bad run.  Did you tell your psychiatrist about the side-effects ?  He/she may try something different for you.  A letter for Centrelink would come after he/she has seen you for some time - may be worth waiting for.
    If one has been self-employed (i.e. your renovating houses) it is always harder with Centrelink for some reason.  I have been a self-funded retiree (from savings for the future which are now gone !) and am still struggling with them.  Any dollars in the bank at all and it has to be spent - nothing like keeping some aside to pay one's bills.
    You are in our thoughts as we have all had some or all of your issues to deal with and hope there is light at the end of your tunnel.
    Kind regards  Summer  :-)
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 2,711

    Ah Brenda, it's the little things that can really break your heart. We cope with all the big ticket items, then the shitty little bits bring us undone.

    My heart goes out to you, it is soo hard when all you want to do is get on with your life and nothing will go right. The Tamoxifen may be to blame, it may not. Sometimes the medication that we think is the culprit isn't the root of the problem, it could be just our age or stage of life and the problems may have been the same regardless of the cancer. Which doesn't help, I know.

    Can you get to another Centrelink office? It sounds like someone isn't doing their job where ever you started out. I know, it's a pain in the butt to get to another location, but it may be worth it if you seem to have dropped off the radar.

  • fairydustfairydust Member Posts: 290
    @Brenda5 centerlink prides itself on being understaffed and superslow to get back. That has been my experience in the past. It wouldnt hurt dropping in if possible  to ask about the status of your claim. 
    I also have recently seen a naturopath. I was in the chemist spoke to an assistant who happened to be a naturopath.
    I arranged an appointment. Turns out her stepson had just survived leukemia and was a 3 year survivor. She understood about fatigue and health issues related to cancer.
    The point of this is she prescribed pills that help the nervous system.I have a fair bit of depression  at the moment.
    She then also prescribed tablets to improve the flora of my gut. After a week or so gradually feeling better.
    A naturopath consult may help I to in the past had bad side effects with anti depressants.

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