6.3.1 Non-payment-specific overpayments
This section contains 1 topic on non-payment-specific overpayments. This section covers the following matters:
- bereavement overpayments
- overpayments resulting from the existence of a member of a couple relationship
- overpayments resulting from a lump sum CFP
- overpayment provisions for overseas war pensions
- appeal rights for VEA overpayment amounts
- DVA deduction of overpayment from DVA arrears, and
- overpayment resulting from a DVA Disability Compensation Payment (formerly disability pension) grant or increase taking effect before 1 January 2022.
Act reference: SSAct section 21(2) Bereavement definitions
Overpayment of surviving partner of illness separated couple
As with pensioners, bereavement assistance is calculated as if they were living together for:
- illness separated couples, AND
- respite care couples.
It is possible in these cases that, if notification is significantly delayed, usually beyond 8 weeks, the survivor will have been overpaid. The amount overpaid is a recoverable debt.
Act reference: SSAct section 4(8) Respite care couple
Overpayment when both partners die within 14 weeks
An overpayment can occur when both members of a pensioner couple die within 14 weeks of each other and the death of the first partner only becomes known on or after the death of the other partner.
Both pensions are cancelled. Neither partner's estate is entitled to the instalment paid for the first partner on the payment delivery day after the second partner's death as the second partner had not had the benefit of that payment. The estate of the second partner is entitled to the payment made at the end of the entitlement period after the second partner's death.
Overpayment during bereavement rate continuation period
If a partner allowee is overpaid during the bereavement rate continuation period because they were illness separated, the excess benefit paid is deducted from any lump sum bereavement payment.
Overpayment of child related payments after bereavement period
No LCBP is payable if Centrelink is notified of a child's death after the bereavement period expires because the bereavement assistance will already have been paid. An overpayment may need to be raised for any child related payments made after the expiry of the bereavement period.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES is any outstanding overpayment from a previous period unrelated to the bereavement period to be recovered from the LCBP. A reasonable period should elapse, usually 3 months, after the death of the child before taking recovery action.
Overpayments due to existence of a member of a couple relationship
Overpayments are difficult to determine when they involve domestic circumstances. Overpayments due to the existence of a member of a couple relationship are raised ONLY when there is clear evidence that a member of a couple relationship existed before a relevant date. Relationships often develop over time and identifying a precise beginning with adequate supporting evidence can be difficult.
Overpayments resulting from a lump sum CFP
Some recipients receive a lump sum foreign pension payment for a past period. The lump sum may be paid either to the person or the person's partner, if the person is a member of a couple. Where this occurs the lump sum amount should be treated as periodical payments for the past period and an overpayment raised if required.
Note: On the death of a partner some recipients may also be granted either a survivor's (or widow's) pension, which is a type of CFP payable to surviving partners, or an increase in their own payment. Where this occurs the survivor's pension income, or additional surviving partner payment, is NOT assessed in the 14-week bereavement payment period.
Act reference: SSAct section 1228A Comparable foreign payment debt recovery
Overpayment provisions for overseas war pensions
The provisions of the Act and the VEA do NOT apply to overpayments that result from grants or increases of British and overseas war pensions that have been paid by DVA on behalf of those governments. In these cases DVA will:
- ask Centrelink to calculate any overpayment, and
- if possible, arrange for the adjustment from the overseas war pension.
Appeal rights for VEA overpayment amounts
The VEA provides recipients with a right of review under the SSAct for the calculation of the amount of the adjustment to be recovered under the VEA.
This means that recipients or former recipients will be able to:
- seek a formal review to an ARO, AND
- further appeal to the AAT about the amount calculated as recoverable after the DVA payment is granted.
Act reference: Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 section 205AA Recovery of overpayment by deduction from other pension, benefit or allowance, section 205B Certain decisions of Commission reviewable under Social Security Act etc.
DVA deduction of overpayment from DVA arrears
The DVA generally grants or increases veterans' payments in arrears. Before making such a payment, DVA MUST first ask for details of any Centrelink amounts that may have been paid to the veteran during the same period. DVA deducts the overpaid amount from the DVA arrears owing. This is known as an adjustment amount.
Overpayment resulting from a DVA Disability Compensation Payment (formerly known as disability pension)
If a recipient is granted, or receives an increase in, a DVA Disability Compensation Payment, from a date before 1 January 2022 their income is reviewed. Under the VEA, DVA can recover any amount overpaid by Centrelink if, as a result of the review, a pension rate:
- is to be reduced, AND
- was NOT reduced immediately.
Act reference: Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 section 205AA Recovery of overpayment by deduction from other pension, benefit or allowance