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.

8 Administration Act Provisions


This part provides guidance on:

  • the structure and content of the SS(Admin)Act,
  • discretionary decision making under the SS(Admin)Act, and
  • certain procedural requirements for the implementation of the SS(Admin)Act.

It concentrates on aspects of the Act that are directly implemented by staff in Centrelink or any other provider delivering relevant services. The Act itself is generally clear and self-explanatory and this Part explains how it operates rather than to paraphrase or summarise its provisions.

Social Security (Administration) Act 1999

The SS(Admin)Act contains the 'machinery provisions' that, before it was passed, were repeated in each separate part of the SSAct. Machinery provisions are those relating to:

  • the claim process (for payments and concession cards)
  • decision making and the dates on which decisions take effect
  • commencement of payment and the payment process
  • obtaining information to ensure correct payment
  • cancelling or suspending payments and concession cards
  • reviews of decisions both internally and by the AAT - first review and AAT - second review, and
  • offences.

The SS(Admin)Act ensures that the rules for these things are largely standard across all payments. Payment-specific exceptions are clearly spelled out in the legislation as individual references or references to classes of payments. Individual divisions, parts and sections in the SS(Admin)Act apply to specifically defined classes of payments and concession cards.


  • Transfer and deemed claim provisions apply to income support payments.
  • Incorrect claim provisions refer to social security payments and to supplementary payments (1.1.S.427).
  • Instalment provisions refer to 'social security periodic payment'.
  • Advances in case of severe financial hardship (1.1.S.120) provisions refer to social security benefits or pensions.
  • Start day rules refer to social security payment.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 12 Deemed claim in certain cases, section 15 Deemed claim - incorrect or inappropriate claims, section 42 Start day, section 43 Payment by instalments, section 51 Advance in case of severe financial hardship

Key term definitions

When applying individual provisions from the SS(Admin)Act, delegates must play close attention to the words used in defining their scope. Key terms used are:

  • social security payment
  • social security benefit
  • social security entitlement
  • social security pension
  • service pension, and
  • supplementary payment.

Explanation: These terms are generally defined in SSAct Part 1.2.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'social security payment', section 23(1)-'social security benefit, section 23(1)-'social security entitlement', section 23(1)-'social security pension', section 23(1)-'service pension', section 15(5)-'supplementary payment'

Social security law

The term 'social security law' is defined in SS(Admin)Act section 3. It is the basis for Centrelink letters and claim forms. The following Acts make up social security law:

  • the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999
  • the Social Security Act 1991, and
  • the Social Security (International Agreements) Act 1999.

Example: Mario Tirami wants to move back to Italy when he retires. He asks about whether he can receive an Age while he is there, how he can apply and how much he will receive. The Centrelink officer will need to check ALL 3 of the Acts under social security law as follows:

  • the SSAct will set out the eligibility criteria, rates of payment and income and assets tests for age pension, such as whether Mario is an Australian citizen, whether he is 65 years old, allowable levels of income and assets, and
  • the SS(Admin)Act will set out the methods for making a new claim, the start day rules and other details about payment methods, and
  • the SS(IntAgree)Act will set out the conditions of receiving a social security payment while living in another country, e.g. whether or not Australia has an agreement with that country and how much of the pension is payable overseas (depending on how long Mario has lived in Australia).

Corrections and suggested enhancements for this part should be forwarded to the Branch Manager of the Portfolio Governance, Welfare and Employment Law Branch, DSS.

Last reviewed: