When a nominee is appointed, the nominee is required to act in the best interests of the principal (claimant or recipient).
A delegate should be satisfied that a proposed nominee understands the responsibilities they are taking on and appears capable of carrying them out.
Particular scrutiny should be given to requests where:
A nominee is required to advise of any matter that affects their ability to act as a nominee. Any nominee arrangement MUST be reviewed as soon as any allegations of misuse of the payment are received.
Information in relation to the principal's social security payment/s may be disclosed to their appointed nominee on the principal's behalf.
Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'protected information'
SS(Admin)Act section 123K Notification by nominee of matters affecting ability to act as nominee, section 208(3A) Disclosure of information by Secretary
The payment nominee must keep a record of the expenditure of the principal's payments in case the arrangement needs to be reviewed. In the instance that a review is deemed necessary, a notice needs to be sent to the nominee requesting a statement to be made regarding the disposal by the nominee of money paid under social security law to the nominee on behalf of the recipient.
The nominee is obliged to comply with this request under legislation. If they fail to do so monetary penalty provisions apply.
Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 123L Statement by payment nominee regarding disposal of money
Policy reference: SS Guide 8.5.1 Payment Nominee
In most cases, where a principal is required to perform an act for purposes of social security law, this can be actioned by the correspondence nominee on behalf of the principal.
However, in some instances a principal must act or attend on their own behalf, such as when attending a medical examination. In these instances a correspondence nominee may also be advised of the details regarding the requirement of the principal to personally act. This advice to the nominee is to enable them to assist (where required) the principal fulfil their obligations.
Example: A principal is severely mentally incapacitated and needs to attend a medical examination. They may require facilitation by a third party (the nominee) in order to ensure the principal attends the examination appointment. The nominee can attend with the principal if the principal wishes. However, in the instance of a medical, psychiatric or psychological examination, the nominee can be excluded at the request of the examiner.
Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 123A-'principal', section 123H Actions of correspondence nominee on behalf of benefit recipient, section 123S Right of nominee to attend with principal
Policy reference: SS Guide 8.5.2 Correspondence Nominee
The nominee or the principal can cancel a nominee arrangement at any time. However, extreme care should be taken in the instance of a nominee that is a power of attorney or legally appointed guardian. While the Secretary has the discretion to suspend or revoke appointments, Centrelink nominee appointments where there is a State/Territory Court, Tribunal, Guardianship or Administration Order in place should not be revoked at the request of the principal. This is because such orders will generally only be made where the principal can no longer provide rational instructions. Where such an order is in place, the delegate will need to contact the relevant State/Territory Authority when the principal requests a change in the nominee arrangement.
There is a specific power to revoke nominee appointments in the circumstances set out in SS(Admin)Act section 123E. The Secretary or his delegate may revoke an appointment where:
The suspension or revocation of the appointment must be in writing and copies must be sent to both the principal and former nominee.
There is also a residual general power derived from the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 section 33(4). This power can be exercised where a delegate decides that a nominee appointment is not in the principal's best interests.
The delegate can also use the discretion contained in SS(Admin)Act section 44(1) to direct payment of a social security entitlement elsewhere.
Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 123E Suspension and revocation of nominee appointments
Letters of the nominee appointment and nominee cancellation are to be sent to both the principal and the nominee. Letters are also sent to both parties to give some protection to the principal especially where there may be some decisions made by the nominee that may conflict with the principal's interests and affect rate of payment. However, it is acknowledged that where the principal does not have the legal or mental capacity to comprehend such notices and there is a legislative State/Territory Court, Tribunal, Guardianship or Administration Order in place that confirms the principal is incapable of managing their affairs, the relevant State authority is in the best position to determine if the principal is capable of reading and comprehending correspondence.
Any allegations of misuse of the nominee arrangements e.g. principal not getting the benefit of their income support payment, or abuse of an elderly or disabled person, must be referred immediately to a social worker. If the social worker is not available and the case is urgent, the nominee arrangement may be revoked with a referral to the social worker to investigate the allegations of misuse and follow up with the relevant authorities. Another nominee appointment may be required and/or payment redirected elsewhere as a matter of urgency.
Last reviewed: 13 May 2013