Imagine winning a jackpot lottery prize, only half of your winnings are taken from you each month.
This is the grim reality facing lottery winner and disability pensioner Craig Hill.
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The 61-year-old says Centrelink takes a large chunk of its profits every month.
Craig hit the jackpot on October 14 when he won $60,000 in the Set For Life Lottery Division Two prize.
According to the lottery’s terms, the Set For Life prize means he’ll receive $5000 a month for a year, rather than all at once.
But the former Queensland teacher says his pension will be cut by almost $500 every two weeks as his winnings are paid out monthly instead of in one big lump sum.
His disability benefit of $821.20 for two weeks is now reduced to $328.20 because Centrelink considered him a “professional gambler”.
Craig described the formality as “ridiculous”.
“I was pretty happy, initially I was pretty happy until I told Centrelink,” he told 7NEWS.
“It takes the shine out of victory.”
Craig says if he received the win as a lump sum, it wouldn’t be a problem.
“I could win $600,000 as a lump sum and it won’t affect my pension,” he said.
“But as a monthly payment…they classify me as a professional player.”
Craig was a teacher until he was allegedly held hostage during an English class at Townsville Correctional Center three years ago.
“I suffered severe psychological damage and now I rarely leave the house,” he said.
Craig says they managed to persuade the Inland Revenue to make an exception, but Centrelink was a different story.
“Centerlink, on the other hand, said, ‘That’s a rule, and we’re going to apply the $5,000 to your wife’s carer’s allowance as well,'” he said.
The Department for Social Services says its approach is “in line with the principle of targeting help to those who need it most”.
But Craig says he’s not giving up and is taking his case to the government’s Administrative Court of Appeal in hopes of overturning Centrelink’s decision.
“They wanted to dig in their heels, so I think the only way to deal with a bully is to become a bigger bully,” he said.
https://7news.com.au/news/lotto/lotto-winner-craig-hill-says-centrelink-is-taking-2000-of-his-prize-every-month-c-8744983 Lotto Draw Results: Winner says Centrelink takes $2,000 of their prize each month