What do you do if Centrelink has been underpaying you?

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David thinks his mother-in-law has been receiving less pension than she has been entitled for some time and wants to know whether the money will be paid back in full.


Q. David
My mother-in-law has just turned 90 and my wife now has power of attorney. Her mother currently receives a part pension of $758 a fortnight.

We have been looking through her financial records and have noticed that after March 2017 her only assets listed with Centrelink were her late husband’s superannuation, the funds of which were exhausted at the time.

She does not have any income other than the Age Pension, and she has not notified Centrelink of the changes in her income and assets since March 2017.

I used the pension calculator and found that she is entitled to the full single Age Pension. My question is, if we can prove to Centrelink that her assets and income were exhausted in March 2017, would she be eligible for the full shortfall in payment over this period?

A. Centrelink usually only allows 13 weeks to dispute an incorrect payment. It is possible to request a review after 13 weeks. However, even if Centrelink changes the amount to be paid, you may only get the extra entitlement from the date that you requested the review.

If you want to request a review, your first step should be to ask Human Services to review its decision. This should be done by an Authorised Review Officer.

If you do not receive a satisfactory response, you can then take the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Hopefully, this should see the matter resolved. If not, your last port of call is the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it for you. 

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 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 Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 10
  1. 0

    Isn’t that wonderful, Centrelink can go after you for money allegedly from decades ago, – the which you have to prove you are innocent of, but every mistake they make is wiped off the board after 13 weeks, – very unfair, and I bet many of these old claims would have been balanced by newer mistakes but of course they don’t recognise any mistake after 13 weeks, – so tough titties pensioner.
    It should be that what’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander, no exception for lazy or lying centrelink.

    • 0

      Lookfar…The system stinks full of corruption. Jumping on people that don’t owe them money and politicians with their false claims calling the pension welfare but making sure they will take their pension even when they are working Billionaires.

  2. 0

    This is a Department whch needs to return to a customer service focus, something sadly lacking since staff cutbacks and outsourcing. How can only allowing 13 weeks to notify changes seem remotely fair

    • 0

      Soo very unfair…takes abt 13wks to contact ’em on phone if not able to wait for 40mins on phone!! Far longer for ’em to do anything one requests/needs.

  3. 0

    My experience has been it is only backtracked to the date of the review .

  4. 0

    If you have understated your assets/income with CL – yes, they can only go back 13 weeks. But boy – will they drag the review out! Then they will pay you a lump sum, and they do not have to give a break down of that amount. You have no idea what they are paying you.

    BUT – CL can come after you YEARS later – without providing any proof – that you owe them because (so-they-say), they overpaid you. The ball is WELL skewered to their advantage!

    I have just given up a part time job because I queried the amount of the part pension I was receiving. Was WELL under figures verbally advised by CL staff, and all their calculators showed. I also cannot trust them that in a few years time, they will send me a ‘robo-debt’ letter with no accountability.

  5. 0

    A classic situation – I was entitled to Child Support from my ex and Centrelink started paying me less in Family Payment due to the amount which was ‘supposed’ to be received, but I was receiving NOTHING. Once the CSA decided to take my ex’s tax return and send it to me as one lump sum, Centrelink decided to reassess my family payment as if this was a one-off payment. I got onto them quick smart and let them know that I hadn’t been receiving the actual amount every fortnight/month that they had assessed me as receiving and the lump sum was the arrears that were owed to me. The did a quick 180 when I received a notice from CSA that the funds I had received were indeed a back payment and not anything else. They finally reinstated my family payment the next day after receiving the notice from CSA. It took 8 weeks before they decided to repay me the funds owed to me.

    • 0

      Centrelink are such a farce. Like u Suzi, I was robbed but in a different way. Hubby was forced on Disability after insisted on still working when able – after diagnosed with 4th stage cancer & all that entailed. He used up all his prior 14+yrs of accumulated sick leave (averaged only 2 days yrly), annual leave (had 4 mths unused) + accumulated long service. I applied for a Carer’s pension/allowance soon after hubby was told (when he insisted on knowing) that had “12mths, max 18mths” to live….was rejected, even tho’ the Job Search requirement appointments lovely girls told me soon after I did not have to attend anymore….was on Newstart, compassionate/smart enough to know I was being robbed & far too busy with hubby’s needs re 5 major ops/regular chemos/radios/tests/Specialists & GP visits++++. Wasn’t ’til 12mths prior to my beloved’s death when by then he needed 2 Palliative Care nurses visiting him weekly (very weak, unwell, on enormous amts of pain killers & wanted to die @ home) that one of the those nurses casually mentioned my Carer’s benefits, told her I’d been rejected, was on Newstart. She was stunned/shocked – asked me tp print up a blank copy, I competed it exactly had done the 1st one, she stamped & signed it & 11mths prior to my hubby’s passing (@ 61) I was finally “gifted” both the Carer’s Pension & Allowance…..dislike Centrelink, dread contacting ’em altho’ have not yet received my now OAP stated increases.

  6. 0

    Slightly off topic but about Centrecrooks – We have a Low Income Health Care Care which expires 20 April ’19, FINALLY received the renewal notice via MyGov on the 28th March so now we have 22 days until expiry. The application took 6 months to process, the renewal last year took 3 months to process so why send it out 22 days away from expiry. They really prefer you don’t get the benefits entitled to.

    • 0

      Health Care Cards are difficult to handle when you do not claim a payment as well. Had one of those from age 62 to 65 when Age Pension was applied for. C/Link could not understand me wanting to live on my own money for 3 years instead of claiming a payment.



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