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.

6.1.7 Steps in the social security review & appeals system


The social security review and appeals system consists of internal and external review mechanisms. A person affected by a decision made under social security law may apply for a review of the decision. An internal review of a decision is conducted by a review officer who has no involvement in making the original decision. The levels of review and appeal, in increasing order, are:

  • internal review conducted by a review officer
  • an external appeal to the
    • AAT - first review
    • AAT - second review
    • Federal Court, and
    • High Court.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act Part 4 Internal review of decisions

Decisions made using computer programs

The Secretary may arrange for the use of computer programs in making decisions under social security law. Decisions made by computer programs are taken to be decisions made by the Secretary. This means, for example, where entitlement determinations are made using computer programs such as rate calculators, they can be reviewed as though the decisions were made by the Secretary or a delegate of the Secretary.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 6A Secretary may arrange for use of computer programs to make decisions

Review body may determine events to have happened

If the Secretary, delegate or AAT (the review body) sets a decision aside and is satisfied that an event would have happened had the original decision not been made, then that event can be deemed to have happened for the purpose of the social security law.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 126 Review of decisions by Secretary, section 135 Review of decisions following application under section 129, section 183 Secretary or AAT may treat event as having occurred

Withdrawal of application for internal review of a decision

A person may withdraw their application for internal review of a decision under social security law at any time before the review has been completed.

An application that is withdrawn is taken to have not been made. An application may be withdrawn orally or in writing, or in any other matter approved by the Secretary.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 130 Withdrawal of application

Notice of decision to be given following an application for internal review of a decision

A notice must be provided to the applicant following the review of a decision. The notice must:

  • be in writing
  • state the effect of the decision
  • set out the reasons for the decision
  • set out the findings by the decision maker on material questions of fact
  • refer to the evidence on which those findings were based, and
  • provide further information about further rights of review to the AAT.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 136 Notice of decision on review, section 138 Notification of further rights of review

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