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 provisions for income & assets reviews


This topic contains general provisions on reviews and covers:

  • initial review action
  • suspension of payment based on information received
  • action needed when
    • a recipient surrenders payment
    • variations in income occur
  • employment income (1.1.E.102) overpayments
  • treatment of acquired interest in an estate
  • fluctuating income and assets
  • disposal of assets, and
  • asset tested recipients.

Act reference: SSAct section 8(1)-'income', section 23(1)-'service pension'

Initial review action

A delegate MUST consider ALL possible changes in circumstances that may affect a person's entitlement when ANY review is conducted.

Suspension of payment based on information received

If anonymous or unreliable information is received that casts doubt on a person's entitlement to a payment, a delegate MUST immediately investigate the true position BEFORE suspending payment.

Recipient surrendering payment

If a recipient wishes to surrender payment without giving a reasonable explanation, the:

  • payment should be suspended, AND
  • person invited to test their eligibility again.

Explanation: The person may, incorrectly, believe they are no longer entitled to the payment.

A letter, explaining the possible continued entitlement, should be sent and followed-up to ensure the person is aware of the full situation BEFORE cancelling the payment.

Explanation: An event may have taken place that would cause an overpayment, such as a remarriage or commencement of employment. The person may be trying to avoid the consequences of advising the department of the true situation.

Act reference: SSAct section 10A(2)-'employment'

Variations in income

If a person experiences a variation in income, a delegate must take action as explained in the following table.

If the variation in income results from … then the delegate MUST verify that …

changes in the:

  • total value of financial investments held, OR
  • interest rates paid, OR

Explanation: Interest rates may apply where deeming rates do not.

  • amounts stated to be received as

    • superannuation
    • overseas pension
    • compensation (1.1.C.240), OR
    • maintenance
  • payment has NOT already been automatically updated, OR
  • amounts on the pension income review form include any payments received for dependent children (1.1.D.70), AND
  • if doubt exists, the information is correct.
starting work the starting date is correct.
variation in wages the gross wage amount is correct.

Act reference: SSAct section 10 Maintenance income definitions, section 1084 Certain money and financial investments not taken into account

Policy reference: SS Guide Exemption of Financial Investments from Deeming

Employment income overpayments

Overpayments that occur due to recipients not advising of employment income within the notification period (usually 14 days) may be reduced if the person has working credits to deplete.

Example: Mia is a notification reporter (1.1.N.126), has 200 working credits and starts work on day 9 of her instalment period. She earns $150. Mia notifies on day 10 of her next instalment period - this is outside of her 14-day notification period. Her $150 employment income will be applied from the beginning of the instalment period in which it is paid and attributed forward for the number of days for which she is paid. However, she has enough working credits to completely offset her employment income, so she will not incur an overpayment. As Mia has commenced receiving income from employment, in an amount that will still entitle her to some income support payments, she is moved on to statement reporting (1.1.S.350) and is now required to report her income each fortnight.

Policy reference: SS Guide Working credit depletion, Date of effect of non-automatic adverse determinations

Treatment of acquired interest in an estate

If a person acquires an entitlement to an interest in a deceased estate, its value is not taken into account until it:

  • is received, OR
  • can be received.

The person should be reminded of the obligation to notify Centrelink when any proceeds from the estate are received.

Fluctuating income & assets

As a result of a person's income and/or assets fluctuating, their pension can be alternatively assessed under the income and assets test. The guidelines for BOTH income and assets should be considered in a review.

Disposal of assets

If deprivation of assets occurred after 22 August 1990, then under the disposals provision the amount taken into account as assets is disregarded on the fifth anniversary of the act of deprivation.

Note: A review should be noted for this date.

If more than one amount is maintained under these provisions, the case is reviewed on the anniversary of each separate act of deprivation.

Policy reference: SS Guide 4.1 Deprivation of income & assets

Asset tested recipient

If an asset-tested person seeks a review of their pension entitlement, a review is conducted by obtaining:

  • current values of all their assets which have a readily ascertainable value, AND
  • up to date valuations of those assets which do not have a readily ascertainable value ONLY if the person specifically requests them to be re-valued.

Example: Real estate.

Policy reference: SS Guide Pensions income test, 4.2.3 Pensions & benefits assets tests

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