How we helped change a Centrelink decision

How we helped change a Centrelink decision

Centrelink is a complex and frequently changing system that can be difficult to navigate. You can challenge a Centrelink decision if you think it’s wrong.

Find out how we helped Marie get her benefit restored and her debt overturned.

Marie’s story

Marie* is a single mum with four children. Three of her children have disabilities and the youngest, Sam*, also has serious medical problems.

Sam’s dad, who is separated from Marie, often stays overnight in Sam’s room to help look after him.

Centrelink decided that this meant that Marie and her ex-partner were living together as a couple. They cut Marie’s benefit in half and told her she had a debt of $80,000.

This put Marie under enormous stress and she struggled to pay bills. When she couldn’t pay school fees the school sued her and her children stopped going. When she couldn’t keep up with the rent she was threatened with eviction. Her gas and electricity suppliers told her they were going to disconnect her.

Centrelink’s decision tipped Marie’s family into crisis.

Marie told Centrelink that she disagreed with the decision. A senior Centrelink officer known as an Authorised Review Officer looked at whether the decision to cut her benefit and raise the debt was correct. The officer decided the decision was correct. Marie had the right to review the Centrelink decision to other independent tribunals.

Marie then asked for the Centrelink decision to be reviewed by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (Note – from 1 July 2015, the Social Services and Child Support Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal reviews Centrelink decisions that were formerly heard by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal). She was given a hearing date and a large Centrelink file of evidence to read. That’s when she came to us.

We asked for Marie’s hearing date to be adjourned and helped her to navigate the complex legal issues and prepare her case.

We appeared at the tribunal on Marie’s behalf and put her case forward. Marie’s benefit was restored and her debt was overturned.

How we can help you

If you’re unsure about your rights or disagree with a Centrelink decision, find out more about dealing with Centrelink and how you can get help.

*not their real names