How to Appeal a Centrelink Debt
Centrelink’s new data matching technology is sending out 20,000 debt notices every week. Inaccuracies are causing many to dispute their Centrelink Debt. The “Online Compliance Intervention System” matches data provided to Centrelink with data from the Australian Tax Office. If there is a difference between Centrelink and the ATO, a debt notice is issued with 21 days to dispute the debt online. For those still receiving Centrelink income a deduction from their repayment may commence for those no longer on Centrelink the income the debt maybe referred to a debt collector.
Issue are arising due to issues around the comparability of the data. The ATO’s data relates only to years. Centrelink’s data relates to fortnights. This may lead to errors. Social Security Rights Victoria lawyer, Graham Wells said:
“Our experience is that at least 90% of them have problems, they are either wrong completely or there is legal merit to have them reduced”
In order to dispute the debt you will need to talk to and ARO (Authorised Review Officer) which can be done online, through MyGov. If you’ve never heard of MyGov before, this is one secure place to access services such as medicare, centrelink, child support, the ATO and more. You just need to create an account, and link your services. The ARO will look at why the debt has been raised and then you can provide evidence in order to dispute the debt. The evidence you will generally need is pay slips and tax returns. Bank statements showing income being deposited may also assist.
If you believe the ARO’s decision is incorrect you can escalate the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
Here is a fact sheet should you need if you want to appeal your Centrelink Debt to the AAT.
If you do end up with a Centrelink debt you can manage it through the Money You Owe, in your MyGov. It would be rare that you would have to settle the debt by a lump sum payment. More than likely you can enter into a regular repayment arrange that will help you manage the debt. If you have Centrelink debt, typically the repayment will be about 15% of your Centrelink income.
It is important that you deal with your debt. If you ignore it this may lead to a number of consequences including:
- Adding interest to the debt
- Referring the debt to an external collection agency
- Automatic deductions from your Centrelink payments
- Recover money from your wages, or other income and assets
- Refer to solicitors
- Issue a department Prohibition Order to prevent you from traveling overseas
If you can’t make the payments you could consider entering into a debt agreement which allows for a reduction in the repayment based on what you can afford. If you can’t afford anything you may consider bankruptcy. Debt Mediators provide a free debt helpline for people who are not able to appeal or are struggling with their Centrelink Debt. Call for a free consultation to learn what options are available for your situation.