Reviews and appeals of a Centrelink decision

If we’ve made a decision about your Centrelink payment that you don’t understand or agree with, you can ask for a review

Review rights and process

1. Talk to us

If you don’t understand or agree with a decision about your Centrelink payment, please contact us. We’ll check the decision, explain why the decision was made and correct any errors. We may be able to resolve things quickly without you having to go through a formal review.

2. Ask for a formal review

If you’re still unhappy with the outcome, you can ask us to review the decision. If the decision is about a debt you can also ask us to pause debt repayments until we complete your review.

You can ask for a review by:

Your review request will be actioned by an Authorised Review Officer. The Authorised Review Officer is an independent officer who can change the decision if it is wrong.

Timeframes for requesting a review

Decisions about a debt

You can ask us to review our decision about your debt at any time, except debt for ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children payments. You can also ask us to pause your debt repayments until our review is complete.

If the review finds you owe less money and you have no other outstanding debt, we will refund the money you have repaid.

Decisions about a claim or entitlement

You should ask for a review of a decision about your claim or entitlement within 13 weeks from when we tell you about the decision. If you make a request after 13 weeks, and we can change it, you may only get your entitlement from the date you requested the review.

Decisions about most Family Tax Benefit

You should ask for a review about most Family Tax Benefit decisions within 52 weeks from when we tell you about the decision.

Decisions about ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme

You should ask for a review of debt from ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children within 3 months from when we tell you about the decision. There is no time limit to ask for a review of other ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children decisions.

If you think the Authorised Review Officer’s decision is incorrect, you may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of their decision.

Where you can’t apply to the AAT, 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

Decisions about Paid Parental Leave scheme

Parents

If you're a parent, you should ask for a review of your Paid Parental Leave scheme decision within 28 days after the day we make the decision. You can't request a review of a decision about who provides your Parental Leave Pay or dispute resolution matters.

Employers

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

Decisions about rural ex-gratia payments

We administer a range of rural programs including payments not 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.

If you're not happy with the review outcome, you can make a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Ombudsman considers if our decision or actions were fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

Read more about how to make a complaint on the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

If you think the Authorised Review Officer’s decision is incorrect, you may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of their decision. You can also ask us to pause your debt repayments until the AAT’s review is complete.

AAT process

The AAT is an independent tribunal. They have the power to change decisions but only according to the law and after an Authorised Review Officer has reviewed the case.

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

Applying to the AAT

You should make an application to the AAT within 13 weeks of us telling you about the Authorised Review Officer’s decision.

If you apply after 13 weeks, and we change the decision, you may only get your entitlement from the date you applied for the review.

Read more about requesting a review of decision by the AAT.

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

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 getting the first AAT review decision.

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.

Costs

There’s no charge to make an application to the AAT. However, we won't assist you with the costs of pursuing a review by the AAT. The AAT can’t award you costs if you're successful and, we won’t ask you to pay our costs if you aren't successful.

Legal assistance

You can, but don’t have to, have your own legal representative if you seek a review of a decision.

Free advice and assistance is available from the:

Claiming compensation from us

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

Page last updated: 7 August 2018