Claiming compensation from us

If you believe we’ve made a mistake that caused you financial loss or injury, you may be able to claim compensation from us.

Knowing when to claim compensation

You can make a claim for compensation at any point if you believe we’ve made an error that’s caused you financial loss or injury.

If you believe we have made an incorrect decision, including about a payment, you can ask us for a review. We may not compensate you if other options will resolve the issue.

If you apply for a review, you don’t have to wait for the outcome before claiming compensation. However, we might not be able to consider your compensation claim until we have completed the review.

When you make a claim

You can claim compensation by completing the Compensation Application form.

Don’t use this form if you’re wanting to apply for a Centrelink payment.

If you can’t print it, you can ask staff at your local service centre to print the form. Or call us on 1800 995 496 and we can send it to you.

Your claim needs to show our legal liability or defective administration.

Legal liability

We’ll consider whether we’re legally liable to compensate you. You need to show all of the following:

  • we had a legal duty of care to you
  • we breached that duty of care
  • you suffered a loss or disadvantage because of the breach
  • there's a reasonable connection between the breach and the loss or disadvantage suffered.

Defective administration

Where there’s no legal right to compensation, we’ll consider whether we can compensate you under the Scheme for Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (the CDDA Scheme). You need to show all of the following:

  • our administration was defective
  • you suffered a loss or detriment as a result
  • we could reasonably have expected you would suffer the loss or detriment as a result.

The CDDA Scheme cannot be used in relation to social security debts, or registered child support debts or overpayments. Read about the CDDA Scheme on the Department of Finance website.

When you submit the claim

Submit your claim by post to:

Services Australia
Customer Compensation
Reply Paid 7788

We’ll send you an acknowledgement letter within 5 business days of receiving a claim. It will usually have contact details of your claim manager. Where possible, your claim manager will call you to discuss your claim.

We aim to resolve claims within 90 days. However this isn’t always possible for complex claims. We’ll send you a letter about the outcome of your claim.

We may ask you to sign a settlement deed if your claim is approved. Signing this means you cannot make any future claims against us about the same matter.

After you hear from us

If you don’t agree with a decision or how we’ve handled your claim, you can talk to your claim manager.

If you still disagree with the decision, you can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman. They'll consider whether the decision was reasonable in the circumstances. You can call the Ombudsman’s office for the cost of a local call anywhere in Australia.

Alternatives to compensation

If you have a complaint, compliment or suggestion we want to hear from you even if compensation is not appropriate.

The Department of Finance reviews claims for act of grace payments. These are for people who are unintentionally disadvantaged by the effects of Australian Government legislation, actions or omissions.

Page last updated: 25 August 2023.
QC 25951