The SSAT reviews decisions made under social security law, family assistance law and some other laws. The SSAT reviews all available evidence and applies the applicable law and makes a fresh decision. It can look at other material obtained since the original decision or the ARO decision was made as long as the new information relates to the decision.
Some examples of Centrelink decisions reviewed by the SSAT are:
Social Security Law
Family Assistance Law
Farm Household Support Act
Student Assistance Act
You can apply to the SSAT if you think Centrelink has:
If you don't understand a Centrelink decision, and don't know if it is correct, you can apply to the SSAT.
BB has been advised by Centrelink of a debt of newstart allowance as Centrelink decided that she did not correctly declare her full income earned. Centrelink has said she must repay the debt. BB applies to the SSAT as she does not believe she should have to repay the debt.
The SSAT can consider:
The SSAT will consider a number of sections of the social security law which allow the debt to be 'written off' (delay of repayment) or waived (not repaid) in certain circumstances. This may include whether the debt has arisen solely due to administrative error on Centrelink's part, or if there are special circumstances which mean that the debt should not be repaid. The SSAT can consider these parts of the law even if they have not been considered by Centrelink. The SSAT may or may not decide that a different decision should be made.
On many occasions people apply to the SSAT with multiple concerns, one of which is that the decision is wrong. The SSAT will consider whether the decision is correct or preferable and make a new decision. The SSAT cannot take action in relation to other issues such as changing the law; investigating complaints about Centrelink service issues; or seeking financial compensation.
Where there are a number of issues including that the decision is wrong, or a person is unsure about the correctness of the decision, they may wish to lodge an application for review. The SSAT can explain what it can and cannot do in the course of the hearing.
The SSAT does not have a role in monitoring or overseeing Centrelink's customer service standards.
If you feel you have received poor customer service from Centrelink but you don't think the decision made by Centrelink is wrong, you can contact Centrelink Customer Relations.
If you wish to have a grievance about Centrelink's customer service considered by an independent body, then you could consider contacting the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
You may think the Centrelink decision is correct but you disagree with the law. Please be aware that the SSAT must apply the law as it stands and has no power to rewrite the law or change it. A Centrelink decision cannot be altered by the SSAT if the law has been correctly applied.
If you want the law changed you may wish to contact your local Federal Member of Parliament.
Where a decision is correct according to social security/family assistance law the SSAT has no authority to make a finding about matters such as whether the person has suffered loss because of negligence or poor administration by Centrelink.
If you feel that you have suffered financial loss or disadvantage due to poor administration or negligence by Centrelink, and feel you should be financially compensated, please contact Centrelink Customer Relations. Centrelink can give you more information about the Compensation Scheme for Detriment Caused by Defective Administration operated by Centrelink. This is also known as the 'CDDA scheme'. The SSAT has NO authority to make decisions under the CDDA scheme.