Reviews and appeals of a Centrelink decision

If you don’t understand or agree with a decision we’ve made, you can ask for an explanation or apply for a formal review.

What your options are

Explanation of a decision

You can contact us and ask us to explain our decision.

You may want to ask for an explanation if you don’t understand a decision we’ve made.

An experienced staff member will contact you to explain the decision and answer any questions you have. We may be able to sort out your concerns or change the decision without needing a formal review.

You don’t have to pay for an explanation of a decision.

We aim to contact you and explain our decision within 14 days.

Formal review

You can contact us and apply for a formal review of the decision.

You may want to apply for a formal review if you understand our decision but disagree with it.

You can apply for a review at any time. You don’t have to apply for an explanation first.

An Authorised Review Officer will review the decision. They’re independent officers who will:

  • speak with you about a decision, where possible
  • look at the facts, the law, and the policy involved in a decision
  • change the decision if it’s wrong
  • write to you to let you know the outcome of your review.

You don’t have to pay for a formal review.

We aim to finish a formal review within 49 days. Some may take longer than this. It depends on the details of the case.

How to get an explanation or formal review

You can ask for an explanation or apply for a formal review by either:

You can also fill in the Explanation or formal review of decision form and give us any supporting documents online, using either:

Read our guide to uploading your Centrelink documents online.

If you can’t give them to us online, you can send them to us at:

Centrelink
Reply Paid 7800
Canberra BC ACT 2610

For decisions about ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children you need to fill in a different form. This is the ABSTUDY and Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) Explanation or formal review of decision form. You can return it to us using the details on the form.

When to apply for a review or ask for an explanation

You can ask us to explain a decision at any time.

You should apply for a review of some decisions within a set time.

Debt and overpayment decisions

You can apply for a review of our decision about your debt at any time. However, this doesn’t apply to a debt for ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children payments. For these debts, you must ask for a review within 3 months from the date we made our decision.

You can ask us to pause your debt repayments until your explanation or review is complete. You can do this when you talk to us about a decision.

The review may find you owe less money. If that’s the case and you have no other outstanding debt, we’ll refund the money you’ve paid.

Claim or entitlement decisions

You can ask us to review our decision about a claim or entitlement. You should do this within 13 weeks from the date we tell you about the decision. You can still apply for a review after 13 weeks. But if we can change the decision, you may only get your entitlement from the date you request the review.

Family Tax Benefit payments decisions

You can ask for a review about most Family Tax Benefit decisions. You should do this within 52 weeks from the date we tell you about the decision.

If you’re also a Child Support customer and the decision affects your child support assessment, you should apply sooner. You should apply for a formal review within 28 days from the date we tell you about the decision.

You can still apply for a formal review after this time. But if we change the decision, it may only take effect from the date you applied for the formal review.

Child Care Subsidy decisions

You can ask for a review about most Child Care Subsidy decisions. You should do this within 13 weeks from the date we tell you about the decision.

Paid Parental Leave scheme decisions

Parents

You can ask for a review of your Parental Leave Pay or Dad and Partner Pay decision. You should do this within 28 days after the day we make the decision.

You cannot request a review of a decision about who provides your Parental Leave Pay or dispute resolution matters.

Employers

There are different rules for employers who want to apply for a review. The Paid Parental Leave Scheme Employer Toolkit has information about reviews and time limits for employers.

Tertiary Access Payment decisions

You can apply for a review of a decision about the Tertiary Access Payment anytime. There is no time limit on when you can apply for a review.

ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme decisions

You can apply for a review of a decision about ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme payments.

If the decision is about the recovery of a debt, you have limited time to apply for a review. You must apply within 3 months from the date we made the decision. If you disagree with the outcome of the review, you may ask the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to review the decision.

If the decision isn’t about a debt, you can apply for a review at any time. If you disagree with the outcome of the review, you may ask the Minister for Social Services to review it. To do this, you need to request a review by writing to the Minister and sending it to:

Branch Manager
Work and Study Payments
Department of Social Services
GPO Box 9820
Canberra ACT 2601

Only use this address to apply for a review relating to ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme.

What you can do if you disagree with a review outcome

If you disagree with the Authorised Review Officer’s decision, you can ask the AAT to review it. You can also ask us to pause your debt repayments until the AAT’s review is complete.

The AAT is an independent tribunal. They can change decisions but only according to the law and after an Authorised Review Officer reviews the decision.

There may be a different process for reviews and appeals about:

When to apply to the AAT

Decisions about Paid Parental Leave Scheme

You can ask the AAT to review a decision. You should do this within 28 days from the date of the Authorised Review Officer’s decision.

Decisions about other payments

You can ask the AAT to review a decision. You should do this within 13 weeks from the date of the Authorised Review Officer’s decision.

You can still request a review after 13 weeks. However, if the AAT changes the decision, you may only get your entitlement from the date you request the review.

How to apply to the AAT

To apply for an AAT review of a decision, go to the AAT website. You need to follow their instructions.

After you submit an application, we’ll send the AAT a statement. It will contain the reasons for the decision and relevant departmental documents. You'll also get a copy of our statement and documents.

There are 2 levels of review by the AAT.

You may disagree with the outcome of the AAT's first review. If you do, you may be able to apply for a second AAT review. You should make an application for a second AAT review within 28 days of receiving the first AAT review decision.

Decisions made by the AAT are binding on both you and us. Either of us may appeal a second AAT decision to the courts, but only on a question of law.

Costs

For some types of decisions, there may be an AAT application fee.

We’re unable to assist you with the costs of pursuing a review by the AAT. The AAT is also unable to award you costs if you’re successful. We don’t ask you to pay our costs if you’re unsuccessful.

Read more about applying for an AAT review of a decision on the AAT website.

What else you should know

Legal assistance

You can choose to have your own legal representative if you seek a review of a decision.

Free advice and assistance is available from the:

Compensation claims

In some cases you may be able to claim compensation. This is if you think we've made a mistake that has caused you a financial loss or other harm. You should explore options such as review or appeal before you consider a claim. Keep in mind that time limits may apply to lodging an appeal.

Read more about claiming compensation from us.

Page last updated: 23 August 2021