This section contains information relating to AoS debt recovery and incorrect payments and covers the following:
The policy rationale behind AoS debt recovery is to ensure that recovery action commences as soon as practicable after the assuree begins to receive a social security payment specified under 220.127.116.11 Introduction to the AoS Scheme, i.e. as soon as the AoS debt arises.
In the case of:
The rationale behind the raising and recovery of AoS debts was discussed by the AAT in Gunn and SDSS:
If an assuree makes a claim for a recoverable social security payment, Centrelink must establish whether:
Centrelink SHOULD contact the assurer before granting any recoverable social security payments to the assuree. This is to ensure that the assurer is aware that the assuree is making a claim for a recoverable payment, and that if this claim is granted it will result in a debt against the assurer (as discussed during the AoS interview). The assurer should be given the opportunity to support the assuree instead, and avoid this outcome.
In cases where advising the assurer could have a negative impact on the assuree, the Centrelink customer service adviser must liaise closely with Centrelink social workers to ensure that the assuree is not put at risk.
Example: The Centrelink social worker considers that contacting the assurer in a domestic violence case will place the assuree at significant risk of harm, Centrelink may defer contacting the assurer until the social worker assesses that the risk of harm is sufficiently diminished. This would generally be no longer than 3 months after recoverable social security payments are granted. The assurer remains liable to repay any AoS debt accrued during this time.
SSAct section 1237 strengthens debt recovery provisions by imposing extra rules when considering the waiver of AoS debts.
Under these debt waiver provisions, new subsections prevent:
Where the assuree (the recipient of the payment) is incorrectly paid, such as due to administrative error or misrepresentation, a debt may be raised against the assuree. It should be noted that this is a debt against the assuree, not an AoS debt against the assurer. This debt owed by the assuree arises under SSAct section 1223.
If an AOS debt is being recovered from the assuree under SSAct section 1223 any debt raised against the assurer will be reduced by the equivalent amount recovered from the assuree and the assurer will not be liable for the debt raised against the assuree under section 1223.
Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZZGG Liability to pay for social security payments, section 1237 Power to waive Commonwealth's right to recover debt
Last reviewed: 20 September 2011