The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. General procedures for confirming & verifying identity


This topic covers:

  • principles of identity
  • identity confirmation requirements for claimants
  • identity authentication
  • identity confirmation requirements at reviews
  • identity confirmation requirements for partners
  • identity confirmation requirements for children
  • identity confirmation for victims of major or widespread disasters (1.1.M.20, 1.1.P.60)
  • identity confirmation for reclaims, abridged claims, transfers and when claiming an additional payment

Principles of identity

The requirement for identity confirmation and verification is derived from SS(Admin)Act section 8, which states abuses of the social security system are to be minimised. A person is required to prove their identity when making a claim for a social security payment or service for the first time. After this, they will be required to confirm their identity when accessing their customer account or interacting with Services Australia in person. Proof of identity can be established either by:

  • proving their identity to a ‘high’ level through presenting documents which are verified with the issuing authority using the Document Verification Service (DVS) and undertaking a facial comparison with a photographic identity document, or
  • providing a digital identity trusted to a ‘strong’ level (identity proofing level 3) generated by an accredited identity provider under the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF)

The TDIF enables individuals to create a trusted digital identity with an accredited identity provider (for example, through the Australian Government’s myGovID app) which can then be used to quickly and easily access a range of government services, including through Services Australia. The identity confirmation model is based upon both the National Identity Proofing Guidelines and the TDIF, and requires meeting 4 objectives when verifying a person's identity.

Objective Details
Confirm the uniqueness of the identity This objective aims to establish that the identity is unique and includes checks that the person is the sole claimant of the identity.
Confirm that the claimed identity is legitimate

Under this objective, evidence of the commencement of the identity in Australia should be provided, either through:

  • birth in Australia, or
  • for persons born overseas, commencement of the identity in Australia in the form of an immigration record or document.

Satisfying this objective also includes checks on the identity against records of death.

Confirm the operation of the identity over time

This objective aims to establish the use of an identity in interaction with Government and the community over time.

  • The locational aspect of identity supports the other principles by establishing that the person was contactable at a particular address, allowing further verification to take place.
  • The historical aspect of identity provides a history of the use of the identity and establishes a number of points where the identity can be validated through other data sources.
Confirm the linkage between the identity and the person claiming the identity

This objective seeks to link the identity with the person and to ensure that the person using the identity has a legitimate right to do so. Confirmation of the linkage can be done through a manual-visual comparison of a person's face against a photograph on a primary, verifiable piece of evidence.

Alternatively, Digital Identities use matching of biometric data to confirm this linkage.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 8 Principles of administration

Policy reference: National Identity Proofing Guidelines (see appendix B for examples of acceptable documents)

Trusted Digital Identity Framework – Policy 05A Role Guidance

Identity confirmation requirements for claimants

To receive a social security pension, benefit or allowance, LIC or CSHC, a claimant must either provide their digital identity meeting ‘identity proofing level 3’ under the TDIF standards, or original identity documents considered by Services Australia sufficient to confirm their identity. Services Australia has discretion over which Digital Identities it accepts. Currently, only Digital Identities created through the myGovID app are accepted.

To confirm their identity, claimants need to provide one document from each of the following 3 categories, one of which should be a photographic identity document used to link the person to the claimed identity:

  • one Commencement of Identity document
  • one Primary Use in Community document, and
  • one Secondary Use in Community document.

For identity to be confirmed, the main aspects of identity such as name, middle name, surname and date of birth must be taken from an authoritative source and verified. Documents presented need to be verified with the issuing authority, either directly or through the DVS. A list of acceptable documents is available from the Services Australia website.

If the documents provided are current and valid, but in different names, a change of name document or ‘linking document’ also needs to be provided. This would normally take the form of an Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry issued certificate (or overseas equivalent) that notes the name change. For claimants in circumstances where this might not be possible, alternative proof of change of name may be accepted.

In very limited circumstances, where a claimant is unable to attend a Services Australia Service Centre or agent to present an original document, Services Australia may accept certified copies of identity documents. These must be certified by a person listed within the Statutory Declarations Regulations 2018.

These limited circumstances may apply where the claimant resides in rural or remote areas, or if the claimant has difficulty in attending the Service Centre due to a medical condition such as decreased mobility, hospitalisation or institutional care.

For these cases:

  • the claimant must be contacted and advised that the certified documents need to be provided to Centrelink within a reasonable time period, normally 4 weeks, and
  • in accepting the documents, the customer service adviser should be satisfied the documents provided are true copies.

Identity authentication

To ensure access and updates to personal information held by Services Australia is restricted to the information’s owner or authorised representatives, an individual requesting access to their social security record must authenticate their ownership of the record or authorisation to the record whenever they contact Services Australia. The process used to authenticate the person’s identity depends on the communication channel chosen and their circumstances, but may include presenting an original photographic identity document, answering a series of knowledge-based verification questions or using voice biometrics.

Identity confirmation requirements at reviews

Identity must be confirmed at major entitlement reviews. Where a recipient's identity has already been confirmed under the identity confirmation model outlined above, they will only need to authenticate their identity at review.

Identity confirmation requirements for partners

To receive a social security pension, benefit or allowance, claimants must also provide the full name, address, DOB, TFN and income and asset details of their non-claimant partner.

Identity confirmation is not required for a non-claimant partner EXCEPT where the claimant has claimed a LIC, HEAS or PBBP.

Explanation: As the partner is entitled to receive benefits from the person's claim in the case of the LIC, or in the case of PBBP, the person receives payment based on their deceased partner's accrued bonus, their identity must be verified to the same level as the claimant for LIC.

For all other payments and benefits each person must claim in their own right. When this occurs their identity will be verified.

Partner details are not required for claimants of a foster child HCC.

Identity confirmation requirements for children

For identity confirmation for children refer to the FA Guide.

For identity confirmation for foster children refer to the SS Guide.

Policy reference: SS Guide Foster child HCC

FA Guide Verification of child's name & date of birth

Identity confirmation requirements for victims of major or widespread disasters

Normal pre-grant identity confirmation processes do NOT apply to victims of major or widespread disasters or of SSAct Part 2.23B major disasters. Where social welfare payments have been granted during an emergency without the sufficient identity documents, the identity must be confirmed and verified once the emergency period is over, or within a reasonable review period (generally within 8 weeks of receipt of grant with an extension of up to a further 8 weeks granted under extreme circumstances).

Explanation: Victims of major or widespread disasters or of Part 2.23B major disasters who are not already social security payment recipients may find it difficult to satisfy normal identity confirmation requirements.

Identity confirmation requirements for reclaims, abridged claims, transfers & when claiming an additional payment

Once a person's identity has been confirmed under the identity confirmation model, they will only need to authenticate their identity to claim other payments, programs or services.

If the recipient's identity has not previously been confirmed under the identity confirmation model and they are attempting to reclaim, complete an abridged claim or transfer to another payment, they will need to confirm their identity in full. In addition, if a recipient transfers to or claims another payment that requires additional verification, for example, age requirements, normal verification procedures for these details will apply.

Explanation: For claimants/recipients experiencing difficulty with identity confirmation, see

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 8 Principles of administration

Policy reference: SS Guide 2.2.2 Verifying personal details, Persons experiencing difficulty with identity confirmation & verification

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