Greek Australians are caught in a bureaucratic nightmare, according to a report in Nea Ellada on Saturday regarding the implementation of the Social Security Agreement between Greece and Australia that took effect on October last year.
The Australian government estimates that the Agreement involves about 13,000 former Australian residents living in Greece who can now claim an Australian age pension.
Additionally, an estimated 37,000 Australian residents can be entitled to receive a Greek old age pension.
Centrelink has already sent to Greece the lodging applications that it has received from Greek Australian applicants. But our newspaper has received numerous complaints that now the Greek authorities are asking these people to submit scores of extra documents within 30 days in order for their application to be further assessed. It should be noted that for some of these documents the applicant is asked to submit the original copy while other copies have to be certified from the corresponding Greek diplomatic authority.
Amongst these documents applicants have to submit wedding certificates if their partner is not working, nor is receiving a pension or any other financial assistance.
However if the wedding took place abroad a certificate from the local diocese will not suffice for the Greek authorities, which are asking the respective applicants to register the wedding with the corresponding Greek consulate and then reregister with the Special Registry of Athens.
Additionally if the applicant has children that are either under the age of 18 or under the age of 24 but are studying they need to file a myriad of supporting documentation. All this bureaucracy has tested the patience of many readers of Neos Kosmos who have expressed their frustration with one of them pointing out sarcastically:
“Many Greek Australians have passed away since the discussion for the [implementation] of the Social Security Agreement began. The rest will perish while trying to amass all these documents that the Greek authorities request.”