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We’ve paused debt raising and internal reviews that may be related to income earned prior to 7 December 2020.
There’s nothing you need to do. However if you have concerns about a debt you can talk to us by calling our Centrelink Debt Recovery Line.
What is income apportionment
It’s a practice we used to evenly divide, or apportion, a customer’s employment income across two or more Centrelink fortnightly reporting periods.
We used this method to work out how much income support you were entitled to in each fortnight.
We only needed to divide your income evenly if:
- Your employer pay period didn’t line up with your fortnightly Centrelink reporting period, and;
- Your payslip or income report showed your total earnings but did not show which days you worked or how much you earned in each Centrelink fortnight, and;
- We had no other information available.
Your payment rate was still based on the total income you reported across those fortnights.
However, your eligibility or payment rate may have been impacted if the actual days you worked in those fortnights were not evenly spread out.
Why did it change?
The practice ended on 7 December 2020, when new legislation made income reporting easier for our customers.
Prior to 7 December 2020, people had to report their gross earnings based on the number of hours they worked during each Centrelink fortnightly reporting period.
Reporting could be complex if a customer’s earnings period didn’t align with their Centrelink reporting period.
Since 7 December 2020, customers only need to report income as it appears on their payslip in the same Centrelink fortnight they actually get paid.
This means we don’t need to divide income across fortnights to work out your payment rate.
Why we’ve paused reviews
In response to legal concerns about the use of income apportionment, we paused debt raising and internal reviews that involve income earned prior to 7 December 2020.
We’re working with the Department of Social Services to get legal and policy advice on how to treat these debts and reviews.
The pause will stay in place until we have clear advice on our next steps.
This does not impact any payment rate or debt decisions relating to income earned after 7 December 2020.
If you have requested a review
We’ve paused all internal reviews of debts involving income earned prior to 7 December 2020.
These reviews will remain on hold until we have clear advice on our next steps.
If you requested an internal review, there’s nothing you need to do.
We’ll contact you as soon as we can. You don’t need to call us.
Read more about Reviews and appeals of a Centrelink decision.
I am concerned about a debt
We’ve paused raising debts that involve income earned prior to 7 December 2020.
If your review is on hold, you can ask us to pause your debt repayments for up to 6 months while waiting on the outcome.
If you have already asked us to pause your debt, we’ll automatically extend the pause if your review takes longer than 6 months.
If you have concerns about a debt or want to request a pause you can talk to us by calling our Centrelink Debt Recovery Line.
How this is different to Robodebt
Income apportionment is not Robodebt.
We divided income to work out how a customer’s actual earnings affected their fortnightly Centrelink payment. This process was not about raising debts.
We stopped using income apportionment when concerns were raised.
The Robodebt scheme used annual income averaged over 26 fortnights to raise historical debts.
Robodebt ended in November 2019. We no longer use income averaging to raise debts.
Read more information about Robodebt.