Centrelink

Reporter: Frank Pangallo

A pensioner at war with Centrelink.

He was wrongly accused of not declaring assets, and lost his welfare payment.

But after a bitter battle, federal authorities conceded he was right.

But he claims he's now lost his house and life savings.

DISABLED PENSIONER OSWALD BRUGGEMAN IS FURIOUS WITH CENTRELINK.

"It's appalling..it's criminal."

HE ACCUSES THEM OF BUNGLING A SIMPLE INVESTIGATION INTO HIS ASSETS WHICH LABELLED HIM A FRAUD... AND CLAIMS IT COST HIM HIS HOUSE…HIS HEALTH... AND HIS LIFE SAVINGS.

"This has cost me being in limbo every day..I was crying until one o'clock in the morning and had to drink myself to sleep again."

HIS PROBLEM STARTED TWO YEARS AGO WHEN CENTRELINK ACCUSED HIM OF HAVING A FINANCIAL INTEREST IN A PROPERTY WHICH HAD BEEN LEFT TO HIS 19 YEAR OLD SON IN THE WILL OF MR. BRUGGEMANS' GRANDFATHER.

"They didn't believe me at all… and weren't prepared to look at documents.. they said onus on you to prove otherwise. How can you prove something you have no control of whatsoever?"

THEY THEN STRIPPED HIM OF HIS PENSION.

"I was nibbling up my own assets because I had to survive thinking they would come to their senses sooner or later..never came ..never came…"

WITH NO INCOME, MR. BRUGGEMANS SAYS HE THEN HAD TO SELL HIS LARGE PROPERTY IN THE ADELAIDE HILLS... BUT CENTRELINK EVEN TOOK A BIG CHUNK OF THOSE PROCEEDS.

"117,000 dollars for assumed overpayment of my disability pension based on presumption that I had an interest in my son's property…"

WITH WHAT WAS LEFT IN HIS BANK ACCOUNT, HE MOVED TO THAILAND FOR A YEAR WITH HIS SECOND WIFE AND THEIR CHILDREN WHILE STILL TRYING TO CONVINCE CENTRELINK THAT HIS NAME WASN'T ON THE TITLE OF THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION.

"I was asking myself how the hell did I get in this position… I lost my house... I was living from day to day."

AFTER SEVERAL REVIEWS OF HIS CASE CENTRELINK FINALLY CONCEDED WHAT MR. BRUGGEMANS HAD BEEN TELLING THEM ALL ALONG.

CENTRELINK IS NOW REFUNDING THE MONEY THEY TOOK AND INVITED HIM TO

RE-APPLY FOR HIS PENSION... HOWEVER OSWALD BRUGGEMANS WANTS MORE THAN THAT.

"An official apology would be good. I will never ever get a property again of 18 acres with a 3 bedroom house overlooking the Adelaide hills… never get it again."