6.2 Internal Reviews

Summary

This chapter explains Centrelink internal review process and covers:

  • initiating a review,
  • Centrelink initiated review,
  • date of effect of favourable decision for Centrelink initiated review,
  • reviews initiated by affected persons,
  • review relating to care percentage decisions - initiated by affected persons,
  • time limit for a review initiated by affected persons,
  • date of effect of a favourable decision for a review initiated by affected persons,
  • further requirement for review request relating to an income estimate,
  • continuation of payment during a review, and
  • notification of the decision.

Initiating a review

An internal review can be initiated by:

  • Centrelink (as a delegate of the Secretary), or
  • a person affected by a Centrelink decision.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 105 Secretary may review certain decisions on own initiative, section 109A Review of certain decisions may be initiated by applicant

Centrelink initiated review

Centrelink may review an FA decision where there is sufficient reason to do so. The decision maker may affirm, vary or set aside the original decision.

Example: Reconciliation of entitlement is one example of a review initiated by Centrelink.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 105 Secretary may review certain decisions on own initiative, section 104 Decisions that may be reviewed by the Secretary on own initiative

Date of effect of favourable decision for Centrelink initiated review

Generally, where the review is initiated by Centrelink, the date of effect of a review decision that is favourable to the person affected by the decision is the date from which full effect is given to the review decision (full arrears).

However, if the review decision:

  • relates to:
    • FTB by instalment,
    • SBP (paid under the FTB Part A eligibility test),
    • a weekly limit of hours (CCB),
    • CCB %,
    • schooling (CCB) %, or
    • no entitlement to CCB by fee reduction, and
  • the decision is made on a date later than 52 weeks after the person concerned was given notice of the original decision then the date that the review decision comes into effect is the later of:
    • the date from which full arrears are payable, or
    • 1 July of the income year before the income year in which the review decision is made.

Note: Centrelink can only initiate reviews for CCB on behalf of an individual and not on behalf of a child care service.

Explanation: For decisions in all cases listed above, full arrears are payable as long as the review decision is made before the end of the income year following the income year in which the notice of the original decision was given. Otherwise, arrears can only be paid back to the beginning of the previous income year.

The limitation on the date of effect does not apply in the following circumstances:

  • Where a review of the decision was triggered by an income assessment by the ATO (including FTB by instalment cases, or CCB by fee reduction), provided that the tax return was lodged on or before the end of the income year following the income year to which the assessment relates.
    • Explanation: For decisions relating to the individual's income, full arrears are payable where the tax return is lodged on or before the end of the next income year even if Centrelink does not make a review decision until after that income year.
  • Where the review decision is triggered by information that immunisation requirements have been met for a child for whom immunisation requirements apply during the income year to which the review relates, provided that the information is received before the end of the first income year after that income year.
  • Where the review decision is triggered by information that health check requirements have been met for a child who turned 4 years during the income year to which the review relates, provided that the information is received before the end of the first income year after that income year.
  • Where the review decision is triggered by information that the health check or immunisation requirement should not have applied for the income year to which the review relates.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 107 Date of effect of certain decisions made under section 105

Reviews initiated by affected persons

Generally, a person affected by a decision made by an officer under FA law can request a review. The decision will be quality checked by a subject matter expert (SME) and if the person is not satisfied with the outcome they can request a review by an ARO.

The ARO may affirm, vary or set aside the original decision.

Review relating to care percentage decisions - initiated by affected individuals

From 1 July 2010, changes to child support and FTB legislation align determinations about care between child support and FTB. This means where a care determination needs to be made in respect of a child, the determination can be made by either a delegate of the Child Support Registrar or the Secretary (CSA Act section 54K and FAAct section 35T).

Where either the Registrar or the Secretary conducts an internal review of a care decision, any new decision made on review will be used by both the Registrar and the Secretary. Where the AAT amends a decision or substitutes a new decision about a care percentage, that amended or substituted decision will be used by both the Registrar and the Secretary.

Explanation: Where a care percentage decision has been made by Centrelink, this decision is applied to the child support assessment of the payee and the payer. Both the payee and the payer can approach either Child Support or Centrelink to seek review of the decision.

Where the care percentage decision has no effect under FA law (i.e. neither party is claiming FTB) only Child Support may make or review care percentage decisions. In such a case, if the individual approaches Centrelink to request the review, Child Support, as the original decision maker must undertake the review.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 109A Review of certain decisions may be initiated by applicant

Time limit for a review initiated by affected persons

Generally, an application for a review by a person in relation to FA should be lodged within 52 weeks after the individual is notified of the original decision. This time limit does not apply to FTB by instalment decisions, and some other decisions. However, there are time limits for full arrears to be payable depending upon the circumstances. (For more information, refer to 'Date of effect of a favourable decision for a review initiated by an affected individual'.)

The table below indicates decisions other than instalment decisions where a 52 week time limit may not apply.

If these circumstances apply… Then the time limit to request a review is…
special circumstances that prevented the person from making a review application, extended past 52 weeks to such further period as determined appropriate by Centrelink.
FTB and SIFS past period decision, the later of the end of the income year after the income year in which the past period occurred or 52 weeks after the original decision was made.
determination of entitlement or no entitlement to FTB by single payment in substitution because of the death of another person, to the end of the income year after the income year in which the death occurred.
decision that relates to a period involving 2 income years, the later of the end of the income year after the income year in which the period ended or 52 weeks after the original decision was made.
decision relating to an assessment of taxable income by the ATO (including FTB by instalment cases) and the individual lodged their income tax return before the end of the income year following the income year to which the assessment relates, there is no time limit.
review of an assessment of taxable income by the ATO and the individual initially lodged their income tax return before the end of the income year following the income year to which the assessment relates, the later of 13 weeks after the individual receives notification of the review from the ATO or 52 weeks after the original decision was made.
review of child support entitlement, the later of 13 weeks after the individual receives notification of the review from Child Support or 52 weeks after the original decision was made.
determination of a weekly limit of hours (CCB) in relation to a specified period, to the end of the income year after the income year in which the determination ceased to have effect.
weekly limit of hours, CCB% or schooling % decision, to the end of the income year after the income year in which the decision took effect.
CCB rate decision in relation to a specified period, to the end of the income year after the income year in which the period subject to the rate ended.
determination of entitlement or no entitlement to CCB for grandparent carers, to the end of the income year after the income year in which the determination took effect.
determination of no entitlement to CCB by fee reduction, to the end of the income year after the income year in which the determination took effect.
determination of entitlement or no entitlement to CCB for care provided by a registered carer, to the end of the income year after the income year in which the determination ceased to have effect.
determination of entitlement or no entitlement to CCB by single payment/in substitution because of the death of another person for care provided by a registered carer, to the end of the income year after the income year when the death occurred.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 108 Decisions that may be reviewed under section 109A, section 109D Review applications-time limits applicable to review of certain decisions, section 109E Date of effect of certain decisions relating to payment of FTB by instalment

Date of effect of a favourable decision for a review initiated by an affected person

Provided the person requests the review within the prescribed timeframe as described above, and the outcome of the review is in their favour, the decision takes effect from the date of the previous decision if:

  • a previous decision is varied, or
  • a new decision is submitted.

Arrears payable as a result of the review are backdated to the date of effect.

However, for a review decision relating to FTB by instalment, where the request for review is made more than 52 weeks after notice was given of the original decision, then the date of effect is generally the later of:

  • the date from which full arrears are payable, or
  • 1 July of the income year before the income year in which the review decision is made.

Explanation: For FTB by instalment cases, full arrears are payable as long as the review request is made before the end of the income year following the income year in which the notice of the original decision was given. Otherwise, arrears can only be paid back to the beginning of the previous income year.

This limitation on the date of effect does not apply where the request for review is the result of:

  • an assessment or review of taxable income by the ATO, provided the application for review is made within 13 weeks of when the individual received notification of the ATO decision and the individual had lodged their tax return before the end of the income year after the income year to which the review relates, or
  • a review of child support entitlement, provided the person makes the application for review within 13 weeks of receiving notification of the revised child support assessment, or
  • immunisation requirements being met for a child for whom immunisation requirements apply during the income year to which the review relates, provided that the application for review is made before the end of the income year after that income year, or
  • health check requirements being met for a child who turned 4 years during the income year to which the review relates, provided that the application for review is made before the end of the income year after that income year, or
  • information that the health check or immunisation requirement should not have applied for the income year to which the review relates.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 109E Date of effect of certain decisions relating to payment of FTB by instalment

Further requirement for review request relating to an income estimate

A request for a review of a decision in regard to eligibility for or entitlement to FA (other than SBP) or a CCB percentage to the extent that the decision was based on an estimate of the person's taxable income cannot be made until after the end of the income year and where the person is required to lodge a tax return, after the ATO has made an assessment of the person's taxable income for that year.

A request for a review of a decision in regard to eligibility for or entitlement to FTB to the extent that the decision was based on an estimate of maintenance income for an income year cannot be made until after the end of that income year.

Explanation: This restriction only allows a review of a decision to the extent that it is based on an income estimate to occur after actual income is available so that correct entitlement can be determined.

This restriction does not preclude the person from providing a revised estimate of income at any time during the income year. If a revised estimate is provided and considered reasonable, the rate paid can be varied from the date the revised estimate is provided.

If an FTB instalment claim is rejected due to the income estimate being too high and the income estimate subsequently decreases, the person can lodge a new claim which contains a revised estimate and, if eligible, be paid prospectively from the date of the new claim. However, the individual will need to wait until their actual income is known to be paid for the past period (i.e. period from the date the first rejected claim is lodged up to the date the new claim is lodged).

Where a claim for SBP has been rejected because of the income estimate, the person's eligibility for each payment can be reviewed if they provide a revised estimate within 52 weeks of being notified of the rejection. The revised estimate must include the person's income and, if the person was partnered on the day the claim was initially lodged, the income of the person to whom they were partnered on the day the claim was lodged. This means that if the individual has separated since lodging the claim, their former partner's income for the 6 month income test period needs to be included in the revised estimate.

Act reference: FAAct section 36 When an individual is eligible for SBP in normal circumstances

FA(Admin)Act section 108 Decisions that may be reviewed under section 109A, section 109A Review of certain decisions may be initiated by applicant, section 31A Variation of instalment entitlement determination to reflect revised adjusted taxable income estimates

Policy reference: FA Guide 4.4.2.20 Change in Income Related Circumstances, 4.2.2.20 Specific Requirements for Past Period Claim

Continuation of payment during a review

If an unfavourable decision is made and the decision depends upon the exercise of discretion, the person's entitlement to FA may continue during the review process.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 109G Secretary may continue payment etc. pending outcome of application for review

Notification of the decision

The reviewer must:

  • notify all parties affected by the review decision in writing or another approved manner of:
    • the review decision, and
    • the reasons for the decision, and
    • the effect of the decision, and
  • advise the affected person that they may seek further review by the AAT.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 106 Notice of review decision to be given, section 109B Notice to be given of decisions under section 109A, section 109H Notification of further rights of review

Last reviewed: 3 January 2017