FINN Smith's parents, Jason and Sarah, spent two months beside their son as he fought deadly meningococcal. They never expected they'd have to battle Centrelink, too.
The Pacific Paradise couple was devastated to receive a letter from Centrelink on Friday that said their claim for carer payments had been rejected.
But little Finn was just happy to be home.
MRS Smith phoned Centrelink and was told the claim had been unsuccessful.
She said she was told Finn had been in the care of the hospital - and not his parents - as he fought the disease that nearly claimed his life. This was despite the Smiths maintaining a bedside vigil at the hospital.
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The couple said they had both worked "since we were 14" and "have never claimed a cent from Centrelink in our lives".
They feel disappointed that in their most desperate hour, they have had to battle with Centrelink to get the financial help they need.
After being contacted by the Daily, Human Services Minister Senator Marise Payne has agreed to seek "urgent advice" on the case today. Neither Sarah nor Jason has worked since Finn was rushed from Redcliffe Hospital to the Royal Brisbane's Children's Hospital with bacterial meningococcal on November 22.
Finn was on life support for nearly two weeks and it was uncertain whether he would pull through in the first few days.
The tough little battler survived, but has had to have several amputations to his hands and feet.
Hospital staff advised the Smiths they needed to stay in hospital to be close to their 15-month-old son.
Mrs Smith, who worked in a Sunshine Coast pathology lab, officially resigned from her job in December when she realised the rest of her life would be spent looking after Finn's special needs.
Mr Smith, an electrician, stopped work to support his wife and son through the ordeal.
"Thankfully we had savings in the bank which we have been able to live on in this time," Mr Smith said.
The enormous financial donations from the Coast to Finn have been set aside for Finn's future needs.
The Smiths have been waiting since December 17 for the Centrelink carer payment of about $1133 for the couple a fortnight.
The letter they received on Friday, which was dated January 23 but had been sent to the Royal Brisbane Hospital, was titled: "Rejection of your claim for Carer Payment".
"Thank you for your recent claim for Carer Payment for Finn Smith," it reads.
"After careful consideration of your circumstances, a decision has been made that you are ineligible to receive this payment because the care that you provide does not meet the level of care required for the payment."
Centrelink paperwork shows their assets and their low income easily fall within the eligibility criteria.
Senator Payne's spokesman also said a social worker had been "assigned to contact the family to provide support".
Centrelink Human Services general manager Hank Jongen said people could qualify for carer payment while their child was in hospital "as long as they meet the eligibility for the payment as set out in the relevant legislation".
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