JOHN Grayson doesn’t want to waste the last two years of his life filling out forms at Centrelink.
The 33-year-old’s worst fears were confirmed on Christmas Eve when he received news that he had a rare stage 3 malignant brain tumour.
Prior to his initial diagnosis in November, finding a full-time engineering job had been at the top of his priority list.
His priorities have changed dramatically since, but it seems as far as federal government bureaucrats are concerned he still needs to look for work if he wants to receive the Newstart allowance.
‘‘As I am trying to come to terms with all of this, one thing is driving me incredibly crazy – the strict requirements of the Disability Support Pension,’’ Mr Grayson said.
‘‘[Newstart appointments] are very time costly, which I have so little of. I’d much rather be visiting friends and relatives before I die,’’ he said.
‘‘The idea of a terminally ill person having to go out and look for a job feels like a kick in the groin.’’
In addition to documenting his search for work, he is required to visit employment agencies at Newcastle and Charlestown each week.
Because he is still relatively physically healthy and hasn’t begun radiotherapy treatment, he is not classified as disabled and is ineligible for the Disability Support Pension (DSP).
He was told last week the type of cancer he has (an extremely rare malignant ganglioglioma tumour) means he doesn’t qualify to be fast-tracked onto the pension via an amendment designed for people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Although still capable of working, his mental health has deteriorated considerably.
Ironically he now stands a better chance of qualifying for the disability support pension if he is diagnosed with depression rather than cancer.
‘‘I was at Centrelink with my mother and they said because you are [physically] healthy you don’t qualify for the DSP via cancer, you are going to have to look at mental health.
Mr Grayson said he was supportive of the government’s attempts to prioritise welfare payments to those most in need, however, he believes unemployed people with terminal illnesses deserve special consideration.
‘‘I hope Scott Morrison in his new capacity [as social services minister] can perhaps rework some empathy into the DSP requirements for the terminally ill,’’ Mr Grayson said.
The federal government did not respond to the Newcastle Herald’s questions about Mr Grayson’s case.
Cancer Council Hunter regional manager Shayne Connell said the organisation was lobbying to have the Disability Support Pension eligibility requirements changed.
‘‘It a crazy situation; there is a desperate need to build in some flexibility for people with terminal illnesses,’’ Mr Connell said.
‘‘The last thing someone with a terminal needs to be doing is running around looking for a job.’’