6.7 SIFS review & payment process
From 1 July 2017, SIFS will be closed to new recipients. Grandfathering arrangements will permit eligible recipients with entitlement to SIFS at 30 June 2017 to continue to receive SIFS as long as they remain eligible for the payment. See 2.11.1.
This chapter covers the SIFS review and appeals process, and explains how SIFS payment determinations are made through the FTB reconciliation process and stand alone claims.
SIFS review & appeals process
SIFS decisions can be reviewed via a similar process to FTB reviews and appeals. Internal SIFS reviews can be conducted where Centrelink is satisfied there is sufficient reason to review a decision, or where an individual who is affected by a SIFS decision requests a review of that decision.
Centrelink initiated review
Where Centrelink initiates a review of a SIFS decision, the decision maker may affirm, vary or set aside the original decision. Once a review decision has been made regarding SIFS, there is no limit to the date of effect. This means that if the review decision generates SIFS arrears, these amounts will be payable to the individual regardless of how much time has passed since the original decision under review was made. Similarly, if the review decision results in a SIFS debt, this can be raised and recovered. This differs to how FTB reviews operate, as in most cases, full FTB arrears can only be paid if the review decision is made before the end of the income year following the income year that contains the first day of the period to which the original decision relates.
Note: Where SIFS eligibility is tied to FTB and an FTB decision is reviewed with the result being that the individual is no longer entitled to FTB, this may affect their entitlement to SIFS both retrospectively and prospectively depending on the circumstances.
Centrelink cannot initiate a review of a decision that is already the subject of a review initiated by an affected person, but can initiate a review even if an application has been made to the AAT for review in relation to the decision.
Review initiated by an affected person
Generally, an individual 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 individual is not satisfied with the outcome they can request a review by an ARO.
In most cases where an individual disagrees with a SIFS decision, they need to apply for a review within 52 weeks of being notified of that decision. The exceptions to this rule are:
- Where Centrelink is satisfied there are special circumstances that prevented the individual from making a review application on time.
- Where the individual has applied for a review because the ATO has made an assessment of their income and they lodged their income tax return before the end of the income year following the income year to which the assessment relates (or a further period).
- Where the individual has applied for a review because the ATO has re assessed their income and they initially lodged their income tax return before the end of the income year following the income year to which the assessment relates (or a further period).
Note: The reference to a further period in the above exceptions applies where Centrelink has granted the individual an extension to lodge their tax return because special circumstances prevented them from lodging on time. The further period granted by Centrelink cannot end any later than the end of the second income year after the income year to which the assessment relates.
Where an application for review is permitted, the ARO may affirm, vary or set aside the original decision. Once the ARO makes a review decision regarding SIFS, there is no limit to the date of effect. This means that if the review decision generates SIFS arrears, these amounts will be payable to the individual regardless of how much time has passed since the original decision under review was made. Similarly, if the review decision results in a SIFS debt, this can be raised and recovered.
The external review process for SIFS is similar to that for FTB decisions. However, while there is no time limit associated with applying for a first review by the AAT relating to FTB by instalments, a 13 week time limit applies for an individual to seek a first review in relation to a SIFS decision. This time limit may be extended where the AAT concludes that an individual was prevented from making an application for an AAT first review within the allowable time due to special circumstances. There is also no limiting date of effect for AAT first decisions relating to SIFS. AAT second reviews of decisions relating to SIFS operate in the same manner as those for decisions relating to FTB. For more information see 6.3.
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, section 109D Review applications-time limits applicable to review of certain decisions, section 111 Application for AAT first review, section 111A Time limit for application for AAT first review, section 128 Application for AAT second review
SIFS payment determination - interaction with FTB reconciliation process
Where an individual is an eligible FTB instalment individual, SIFS payment determination is automatically performed at FTB reconciliation.
In circumstances where an individual who is eligible for FTB and SIFS has more than one partner during the relevant income year, payment of SIFS is dependent on each of them lodging their tax returns. This means SIFS may be paid at a later date when actual taxable income is known for the ex-partner/s.
Payment determination - stand alone SIFS claim determination
Where an individual is not an FTB individual, but has a SIFS qualifying child (2.11.2), SIFS payment is dependent on receipt of an appropriate claim form (4.14) and all applicable tax returns being lodged and actual taxable income is provided.
The following table shows where more information on FTB reconciliation rules can be found.
|Payments affected by reconciliation
|188.8.131.52 Payments affected by reconciliation
|How ATI is verified
|184.108.40.206 Verification of adjusted taxable income
|How maintenance income affects reconciliation
|220.127.116.11 FTB reconciliation due to maintenance income
|When an applicant/individual is not required to lodge a tax return
|18.104.22.168 Valid reasons for not lodging a tax return
|Treatment of applicant/individuals who are required to lodge a tax return but do not do so
|22.214.171.124 Non-lodger process
|Raising of debts due to not lodging a tax return where required to do so
|126.96.36.199 Outcomes of non-lodger process
|Reconciliation for applicant/individual who has been in the same relationship throughout the relevant income year
|188.8.131.52 Reconciliation - current partners
|Reconciliation for applicant/individual who separates from a partner during the relevant income year
|184.108.40.206 Reconciliation - ex-partners
|Reconciliation where ex-partners do not lodge a tax return
|220.127.116.11 Reconciliation - ex-partners
|Reconciliation where an applicant/individual dies
|18.104.22.168 Death of individual
|Reconciliation where a partner dies
|22.214.171.124 Death of partner
|Reconciliation where an FTB child dies
|126.96.36.199 Death of FTB or regular care child