Reviews and appeals of a Centrelink decision

If you're affected by a decision about your payment you have the right to request a review of the decision.

To request a review of a Child Support decision read about objecting to Child Support decisions.

Your review rights

If you believe a decision about your Centrelink payment is incorrect you can:

  • ask us to provide a full explanation of the decision
  • request an internal review of the decision if you still think the decision is incorrect
  • apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision
  • submit an appeal with a court

Ask for a full explanation

Contact us for a full explanation and we'll check the details and thoroughly explain the decision to you. This gives you a chance to correct any misunderstandings and present new information.

Request an internal review

If you still believe the decision is incorrect, you can ask for a review. The decision will be reviewed by an independent officer.

Ask for a review by:

Timeframes for requesting a review

There is no time limit for a review of a decision about money you owe us, however, you may have to pay back the money while the decision is being reviewed.

You should ask for a review within 13 weeks of being notified about a social security decision. If your request for a review is more than 13 weeks after being notified and the decision can be changed, you may only receive your entitlement from the date you requested the review.

Family Tax Benefit

You should ask for a review within 52 weeks of being notified about some Family Tax Benefit decisions.

ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme

You should request a review of an ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children recovery of debt decision within 3 months of being notified of the decision. There is no time limit for requesting a review of other ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children decisions.

If you aren't satisfied with a review officer's recovery of debt decision you can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision.

If you aren't satisfied with other decisions of a review officer, you can seek a review from the Minister for Social Services. You'll need to request a review by writing to the Minister and sending it to:

Branch Manager
Work and Study Payments
Department of Social Services
GPO Box 9820
Canberra ACT 2601

Paid Parental Leave Scheme

For Paid Parental Leave scheme decisions, parents must seek a review within 28 days of the decision. You can't request a review of a decision about who provides your Parental Leave Pay or matters that relate to dispute resolution.

The Paid Parental Leave scheme Employer Toolkit provides information about reviews and time limits for employers.

Review of rural ex-gratia payments

We administer a range of rural programs including payments that aren't covered by legislation. These include:

  • Climate Change Adjustment Program
  • interim income support payment
  • Transitional Income Support
  • Professional Advice and Planning Grant
  • Small Block Irrigators Exit Grant Package, and
  • Exceptional Circumstances Exit Grant

While we can review decisions about these payments, you may not be able to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision.

Although the Farm Family Support (Western Australia) pilot is an ex-gratia payment, this payment has the same review rights as legislated payments. You may appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision.

As with all other programs we administer, if you're still not satisfied with the review outcome, you can make a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Ombudsman can look at whether our decision or actions were fair and reasonable in the circumstances. You can contact the Ombudsman’s office on 1300 362 072 for the cost of a local call anywhere in Australia.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

If you believe the review decision we made is incorrect, you may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of the decision.

There may be a different process for reviews and appeals about:

The AAT is an independent tribunal. It has the power to change decisions but only according to the law and only after a review officer has reviewed the case. You should make an application to the AAT within 13 weeks of being notified of the decision. If you apply more than 13 weeks after being notified of the review officer’s decision and the decision is changed, you may only receive your entitlement from the date you applied for a review.

There are 2 levels of review by the AAT. If you disagree with the outcome of the AAT's first review, you may be able to apply for a second AAT review. You should make an application for a second AAT review within 28 days of receiving the first AAT review decision.

There is no charge for submitting an application to the AAT, however, we won't assist you with the costs of pursuing a review by the AAT. You can't be awarded costs by the AAT if you're successful and, in turn, you won't be required to pay our costs if you aren't successful.

For more information or to request a review by the AAT:

After you've submitted an application with the AAT, we'll submit a statement of reasons for the decision and all relevant departmental documents to the AAT. You'll receive a copy of the statement and documents.

Decisions made by the AAT are binding on both you and us. Either of us may appeal a second AAT decision to the courts, but only on a question of law.

Court appeals

An appeal of an Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT second review) decision on a question of law is made to the Federal Court. Ultimately, a full Federal Court decision can be appealed to the High Court, if the High Court grants you Special Leave to appeal to the High Court.

Court appeals aren't free, but you may have the lodgement fee waived. If your appeal isn't successful, you may have to pay costs we incur. If your appeal is successful, we may have to pay your costs.

An application should be submitted with the Federal Court Registry within 28 days of receiving the AAT's decision in writing, although a late application may still be accepted in some circumstances.

Court requirements are usually more formal than the AAT. For more information:

  • contact the Federal Court Registry in your state or territory
  • visit the Federal Court of Australia website, or
  • seek legal assistance

Legal assistance

You can, but don't have to, be legally represented if you seek a review of a decision.

Free advice and assistance is available on the:

Claiming compensation from us

If you think we've made a mistake that has caused you a financial loss or other detriment, you may be able to claim compensation. This doesn't apply if you seek a review of the decision.

Read more about claiming compensation from us.

Page last updated: 1 August 2016