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

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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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice. from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Ben

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