The SSAT is an independent administrative merits review tribunal. It is completely separate from Centrelink.
The role of the SSAT is to review decisions. The SSAT makes a completely new decision in each case, determining what is the correct (ie. legally correct) or preferable (in terms of the exercise of a discretion) decision.
If you want a parental leave pay (PPL) decision reviewed, you can apply to the SSAT. However it is important to note that before a person can have a Centrelink decision reviewed by the SSAT, the law requires that the person must first seek an internal review by an Authorised Review Officer (ARO), ie. you must have an ARO review the case before applying to the SSAT. It is the decision of the ARO which can be reviewed by the SSAT.
The SSAT does not presume that the ARO decision is correct. The SSAT can consider any matter of law or policy which is relevant to the review. It is not limited to what has been considered by the ARO.
Applicants cannot choose to have only part of a decision reviewed. In conducting a merits review the entire decision of the ARO is considered by the SSAT. This means that the SSAT may look at evidence and law not discussed or considered by the ARO.
The SSAT can review most decisions of an Authorised Review Officer (ARO). If you have not had your matter reviewed by an ARO the SSAT cannot hear your review. In that case you will first need to contact Centrelink to ask for an ARO review. If you are still not satisfied with the decision, you can apply to the SSAT.
Once an application has been received the SSAT must deal with the application unless it is withdrawn by the applicant. There are only limited circumstances in which the SSAT can dismiss an application or otherwise decline to hear it.
The SSAT generally has the power to affirm, vary or set aside a decision under review. To affirm means confirm or agree with; set aside means put to one side, or override. Where it sets aside a decision, the SSAT may either substitute a new decision or send the matter back to Centrelink with directions or recommendations for further action. Because the SSAT is making a fresh decision sometimes this can mean that there is a worse outcome for a person lodging an application for review.
JJ applies to the SSAT as Centrelink has told him that she has a debt of overpaid parental leave pay. She has been told by Centrelink that she owes $250.00. She applies to the SSAT and the SSAT has to decide whether there is a debt. The SSAT makes a fresh decision that she does have a debt but decides that it is $285.00.
Note: the SSAT also has power to decide whether, irrespective of the amount of the debt, the debt should be repaid in full, in part or not repaid at all.