8.1.3.10 Provision of Information

Centrelink's power to obtain information

Centrelink has wide-ranging powers to obtain information or require documents to be produced that are relevant to decisions made under social security law. Information may relate to:

  • qualification,
  • payability,
  • the application of international agreements,
  • concession cards,
  • financial supplements, or
  • the location or financial position of debtors.

These powers may apply to any person, including a claimant or recipient or a third party.

Information sought from third parties will be restricted to information relevant to the administration of social security law. These provisions can be used to assist Centrelink where it has difficulty obtaining certain documents.

Centrelink also has the power to obtain specified information about classes of people to detect incorrect payments or verify qualification or eligibility by data matching.

Example: Centrelink can obtain tax records to check claimant/recipient information about income or personnel records from employers to check the legitimacy of claims to be unemployed.

Requirements for Part 5 notices

Notices given under Part 5 must:

  • be in writing,
  • be given personally or by post,
  • specify how the person is to give the information or produce the document,
  • specify the period within which the person must give information or a statement, and
  • specify that the notice is given under SS(Admin)Act section 196.

Part 5 notices must specify a minimum period of 14 days within which the person must comply with the notice.

Failure without reasonable excuse to comply with a requirement under SS(Admin)Act Part 5 is an offence that may be prosecuted and may attract a penalty of imprisonment. Section 631 provides that failing to respond to a section 192 notice may result in a payment being not payable.

Explanation: The question of whether a person has reasonable excuse for failing to comply with a requirement under Part 5 will be considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions, before deciding to prosecute.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act Part 5 Information management

SSAct section 631 Situations where allowance not payable for failure to comply with certain requirements

Provisions relating to claimants & recipients

In addition to the general information powers in SS(Admin)Act Part 5 there are a number of powers to obtain information specifically relating to claimants and recipients and former recipients in Division 6 of Part 3.

Failure to comply with these requirements may result in cancellation or suspension of a payment or a concession card.

Requirement to attend Centrelink

A delegate has the power to notify anyone who has claimed or who is receiving a payment or who has claimed or holds a concession card that they are required to:

  • come to a Centrelink office,
  • contact Centrelink,
  • attend a particular place for a particular purpose, and
  • provide specified information.

This power is exercised by notifying the person either orally or in writing in a standard format specifying what is required and when. The notification must also inform the person of the effect of SS(Admin)Act section 63 or section 64.

Failure to comply with a requirement generally means that:

  • the relevant payment is not payable or ceases to be payable, and
  • in the case of NSA, YA, PP, Austudy and SpB a participation failure may apply to the person.

The delegate can determine that the payment remains payable if the person has a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the requirement.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 63 Requirement to attend Department etc, section 64 Effect of failing to comply with requirement to attend Department etc.

People contacting Centrelink about a claim for NSA or YA as a job seeker (RapidConnect)

Subject to RapidConnect eligibility guidelines, a delegate must notify any person contacting Centrelink about a claim for NSA or YA as a job seeker that they are required to attend an interview with an employment services provider or other organisation/person. Usually such attendance would be required within 2 working days of initial contact.

Due to time constraints, this power is usually exercised by notifying the person orally of the requirement, in a standard format, at the time of their initial contact. The notification must also inform the person of the effect of failing to comply with the notice.

Failure to comply with the requirement generally means that NSA or YA as a job seeker is not payable to the person until the person complies with the requirement. However, some people may be exempt from the RapidConnect provisions in certain circumstances.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 63 Requirement to attend Department etc, section 64 Effect of failing to comply with requirement to attend Department etc., Schedule 2 clause 4A Start day for NSA and YA if claimant required to attend interview

SSAct section 615 NSA not payable if person fails to attend interview etc. in certain circumstances, section 547AA YA not payable if person fails to attend interview etc. in certain circumstances

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.1.40 RapidConnect - impact on NSA payability, 3.2.1.45 Exemption from RapidConnect Provisions, 3.2.3.45 RapidConnect - Impact on YA Payability

Provision of information by former recipients

A delegate has the power to notify former recipients of a social security payment or holders of a concession card that they are required to:

  • advise Centrelink if a specified event or change of circumstances occurred, or
  • give Centrelink a statement about a matter that might have affected their payment.

A person is not required to comply with a notice if it concerns an event or change of circumstances that occurred more than 13 weeks before the giving of the notice. However:

  • the general information powers under SS(Admin)Act Part 5 can also be applied to former recipients with no 13 week restriction.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 69 Person who has received a social security payment or who has held a concession card

Provision of information - medical examination

A delegate has the power to notify people claiming or receiving specified payments that they are required to:

  • complete a questionnaire, or
  • undergo a medical, psychiatric or psychological examination.

This applies to, but is not limited to, a person:

  • claiming or receiving DSP, SA or MOB,
  • claiming NSA and temporarily incapacitated for work,
  • receiving NSA exempt from the activity test on the basis of temporary incapacity for work,
  • claiming YA temporarily incapacitated for work or study, and
  • receiving YA with a temporary incapacity exemption.

This power is exercised by notifying the person either orally or in writing in a standard format specifying what is required and when. The SS(Admin)Act section 64 notification must also inform the person of the effect of failing to comply with the notice (i.e. a participation failure may result).

Failure to comply with a requirement means that a delegate may determine that:

  • the payment in question is not payable or ceases to be payable,
  • in the case of NSA, YA, PP, Austudy and SpB, a participation failure applies, and/or
  • the person loses activity test or temporary incapacity exemption.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 64 Effect of failing to comply with requirement to attend Department etc.

Notice to obtain CFP (1.1.C.230)

A delegate has the power to notify people claiming or receiving a specified payment that they or their partner are required to apply for a CFP at the highest rate payable.

This power applies to people claiming or receiving:

  • age pension,
  • wife pension,
  • widow allowance,
  • widow B pension,
  • special needs age pension,
  • special needs wife pension,
  • special needs widow B pension,
  • special needs disability support pension,
  • bereavement allowance,
  • parenting payment,
  • disability support pension, or
  • carer payment.

A delegate may cancel a payment for failure (by the person or their partner) to take reasonable action to obtain a CFP.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 66 Notice to obtain foreign payment, section 82 Cancellation or suspension for failure to take action to obtain foreign payment

Requirement to notify a change of circumstances

A delegate has the power to notify a person who has claimed a social security payment or concession card and whose claim is undetermined, has been granted, or who is receiving a payment, that they must:

  • advise Centrelink if a specified event or change of circumstances has occurred or is likely to occur, or
  • give Centrelink a statement about a matter relevant to their payment.

This power also extends to:

  • people who have in the past received a payment or held a concession card, but only for events or changes of circumstances occurring within 13 weeks before the date of the notice, and
  • care receivers aged more than 16 or the parents of care receivers aged less than 16.

The delegate may cancel or suspend the payment of a person who is receiving a payment and who has failed (or whose partner has failed, if the failure affects the person) to comply with a notice requiring them to give Centrelink a statement about a matter relevant to their payment.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 67 Person who has made a claim, section 68 Person receiving social security payment or holding concession card, section 69 Person who has received a social security payment or who has held a concession card, section 70 Care receiver in respect of whom carer payment being made, section 81 Cancellation or suspension for non-compliance with certain notices, section 95 Automatic cancellation - failure to provide statement under subsection 68(2), section 93 Automatic cancellation - recipient complying with subsection 68(2) notice, section 94 Automatic cancellation - recipient not complying with subsection 68(2) notice, section 100 Automatic rate reduction - recipient not complying with subsection 68(2) notice

SSAct section 23(1)-'social security payment', section 5(1)-'parent'

Requirements for section 67, 68, 69 & 70 notices

Notices given under sections 67, 68, 69 and 70 must:

  • be in writing,
  • be given personally or by post,
  • specify how the person is to give information or a statement,
  • specify the period within which the person must give information or a statement, and
  • specify that the notice is an information notice under the social security law.

These notices must be given in writing in a standard format, unlike section 63 and 64 notices which may be given either orally or in writing.

Explanation: Notice periods for notices under SS(Admin)Act sections 67, 68, 69, or 70 are specified in SS(Admin)Act section 72 and are incorporated in Centrelink standard letters. The dates that the system inserts in standard letters generally include additional time for postage.

As a general rule, notices relating to:

  • compensation payments require a person to give information or a statement within 7 days, and
  • an event or change of circumstances specify that Centrelink must be informed of the change 14 days after the event occurred or the person became aware it was likely to occur.

In special circumstances, the delegate may allow the person up to 28 days to contact Centrelink. Where the event is the death of a recipient or partner or child, 28 days is the period allowed. Twenty-eight days is also generally allowed for people living overseas.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 72 Provisions relating to notice

Last reviewed: 2 July 2018