Centrelink Q&A: What to do if your payment is incorrect

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Chris thinks he has been dudded with his pension payments and wants to know what to do about it.

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Q. Chris
My wife and I receive a part Department of Veterans Affairs service pension as she is still employed. Due to a restructure she now has a new employment contract. She works six months straight at five days per week and three days straight per week for the next six months. Her new three-day week commenced on 30 September this year. We notified the DVA on 13 October that her salary has been reduced and also emailed them her new payslip at the same time as evidence. The DVA replied, stating it can only increase her pension from the date of notification (13 October). She was not aware what her revised salary was going to be until she received her first pay slip which was 14 days from 30 September.

I don’t think it is fair that DVA has taken this stance in this instance as I feel she has been robbed. What happens when we have to notify DVA in six months when she reverts back to five days per week? I wonder if they take the same stance when her salary increases and her pension reduces, or do they back-date it from the day she commences her five-day week.

A. If you think a decision is wrong, you have the right to ask for a review.  A request for a review is the same as an appeal. If you request a review of a decision, you are expressing your dissatisfaction with the decision and appealing against it.

Your request for review must:

  • be made within three months of receipt of the letter about the decision;
  • be in writing (there is no special form); and
  • set out your reasons for requesting the review.

If a request for review is made in accordance with these conditions, the decision must be reviewed.  The decision of the Review Officer will be to either affirm (agree with) or set aside (disagree with) the decision under review.  The Review Officer may also ask you for more information.

If you are not happy with a decision of the Department concerning your age pension, you can also request an Authorised Review Officer to take a fresh look at your case. Authorised Review Officers are examiners who have had no prior involvement in the case. They look at disputed decisions and may set aside, vary or affirm a decision.

If you are not happy with the Authorised Review Officer’s decision, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of that decision.

An application to the AAT for a first review of a decision by an Authorised Review Officer can be made at any time after the decision is made.  However, it is best to appeal to the AAT within 13 weeks of being notified of the Authorised Review Officer’s decision. This is because back pay may not be payable if a successful application for review is lodged more than 13 weeks after the Authorised Review Officer’s decision.

With regard to the period where your wife is expected to switch back to five days per week, you will need to inform the DVA in advance of her salary increase or they will seek redress for the overpayment.

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Written by Ben

16 Comments

Total Comments: 16
  1. 0
    0

    gee I wouldn’t be squibbling about a mistake for just 1 fortnight, especially with how difficult the DHS is to work with. getting a one or 2 hundred from them is like trying to pull a tooth from a tiger.

    • 0
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      Unfortunately that’s what many department and companies do which saves them thousands, probably millions, of dollars. Make it difficult and lengthy for the victim to get their rightful money and bank on the victim giving up and walking away.

    • 0
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      It is indeed a tactic by commercial and government businesses to make any claim as difficult and protracted as possible thus deterring people from taking them on.

    • 0
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      It is indeed a tactic by commercial and government businesses to make any claim as difficult and protracted as possible thus deterring people from taking them on.

    • 0
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      Sadly, it has been a tactic employed by defence in case of non active service claims – drag it on until the applicant gives up.

  2. 0
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    For a time I was receiving a part pension as my wife was working. When I notified Centrelink each time her pay was altered, past payments weren’t adjusted if my part pension was overpaid but adjustments were made for the next payment. It seems that the system is fair. I wonder whether Chris’ wife could have asked her employer what the new pay would be as she knew that she was going to be working different hours. The article suggests that the contract stipulated the change well in advance.

  3. 0
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    I would have sent the new contract to the department when it was received. Then they would have all the new information as to the new working hours. Then they would have been able to change the payment from the date of the new working hours.

    It is fairly and fully stated on any letter you receive from any government department that if your circumstances change, then you must notify them at the time to give them fair notice as to the change/s and you then can receive the new/amended payment from the date of the change.

    Forwarding your new payslip when you receive it is then a confirmation of the new income.

    As for the increase in hours, then the department must be notified when this happens as soon as it happens, not a fortnight later, as given in the advice above.

  4. 0
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    The non compliance cost of a universal pension would make problems like this stop at the strok of a pen !

  5. 0
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    Changes need to be advised within 14 days, otherwise, you’ll be under or overpaid.

  6. 0
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    Apparently a letter was sent to a guy who died many years ago. Executors have done an audit and can’t find any overpayments outstanding. Temporary overpayment was made before the Estate was finalised. They are targeting property owners who have just lost their homes etc to bushfires and floods and have probably lost all their paperwork. It means they will have to get extra copies of their bank statements to send to Centrelink. As if they aren’t already stressed to the limit. No wonder people in such circumstances commit suicide. They are chasing younger people on temporary disability pensions or sickness benefits who could not work because of massive surgery and later complications. In one case they are claiming more than was paid only a few months ago. How can you pay back what you weren’t given? Nor did the person earn that much for the few hours he did manage to do. Watch this space!!! This is probably the tip of the iceberg. Some have already received letters are aged pensioners and letters are dated back to before they started getting a pension.

  7. 0
    0

    Apparently a letter was sent to a guy who died many years ago. Executors have done an audit and can’t find any overpayments outstanding. Temporary overpayment was made before the Estate was finalised. They are targeting property owners who have just lost their homes etc to bushfires and floods and have probably lost all their paperwork. It means they will have to get extra copies of their bank statements to send to Centrelink. As if they aren’t already stressed to the limit. No wonder people in such circumstances commit suicide. They are chasing younger people on temporary disability pensions or sickness benefits who could not work because of massive surgery and later complications. In one case they are claiming more than was paid only a few months ago. How can you pay back what you weren’t given? Nor did the person earn that much for the few hours he did manage to do. Watch this space!!! This is probably the tip of the iceberg. Some have already received letters are aged pensioners and letters are dated back to before they started getting a pension.

    • 0
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      it is the government’s responsibility to ensure every effort is made to recover overpayments resulting from incorrect information provided by the recipient. Obviously if the person’s circumstances are such that immediate repayment is difficult then arrangements should be made for instalments. There is no reason for providing an extra handout beyond that which the recipient is eligible.

  8. 0
    0

    We have been waiting since early January 19 for a review officer to check out a real estate valuation appeal which affects our payment. Despite monthly phone calls through until September we still have not had a decision. Keep getting told that the ARO will contact us when they get up to it. They are very busy. Now November and 10 months have passed.


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