Explained: How to dispute an Age Pension decision

Centrelink bases decisions about Age Pension payments on a variety of factors. These can include the income and assets tests, your residency status or your living arrangements.

During these assessments you may not agree with how Centrelink has applied certain tests or assumptions and there is a process for you to dispute a Centrelink ruling.

Before you progress to requesting a review, you can ask for an explanation behind the decision. You will not have to pay for an explanation and an experienced staff member will contact you to explain the reason behind the decision and answer any questions that you may have.

Having a conversation like this can sometimes lead to a resolution without the need for a formal review.

If you are dissatisfied with the explanation from Centrelink about any decision it has made when reviewing your application, you have the right to ask for a formal review.

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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.

You can apply for a review at any time and you don’t have to apply for an explanation first.

An Authorised Review Officer will review the decision. An Authorised Review Officer will:

  • speak with you about a decision, where possible
  • look at the facts, the law, and the policy involved in a decision
  • change the decision if it’s wrong
  • write to you to let you know the outcome of your review.

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You do not have to pay for a formal review and the process is usually completed within 49 days.

You can ask for an explanation or apply for a formal review by calling Centrelink or visiting a service centre. You can also fill in the ‘Explanation or formal review of decision form’ online or print them out and send them by post.

You should request the review within 13 weeks of the decision being made. You can still apply for a review 13 weeks after a decision is made, but if the decision is changed, you may only get your entitlement from the date you request the review.

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If you disagree with the review
If you disagree with the Authorised Review Officer’s decision, you can ask the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to review it.

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.

You can go to the AAT website for information on how to apply for a review, but for some types of decisions there may be an application fee, and the AAT is unable to award costs even if you are successful.

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