During pandemic lockdowns in Victoria, a temporary pause was put on Centrelink debt recovery. Debt recovery has now resumed, and if you have a Centrelink debt that had been put on hold, you will be contacted by Centrelink soon to start discussing your options.
If you were overpaid during the debt pause, you might not be aware that you have a Centrelink debt and an overpayment notice will be issued to you soon.
Here’s what you need to know.
What was the debt pause?
The pause on Centrelink debt recovery was in place for LGAs in New South Wales, Victoria, South East Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. During that time, Centrelink stopped sending notices about new overpayments.
If you live in one of these areas and were overpaid, Centrelink will soon send you a letter explaining how much you owe and when you need to start repaying. But you do have some time: you don’t need to start repaying any money until July 2022.
What are my options now?
If you want to repay the entire debt sooner than July 2022, you can. If you want to set up a payment plan sooner, you can.
If you have a Centrelink debt that is already being paid off via a payment plan that was put in place prior to the 2021 debt pause, and deductions are continuing, you can contact Centrelink and ask that they put that payment plan on hold until July 2022 if you want to.
It is best to call the Centrelink Debt Recovery Line on 1800 076 072 between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
You also have the right to have your debt reviewed by an Authorised Review Officer (ARO) within Centrelink. This is a form of internal review whereby a different Centrelink decision maker, an ARO, will review the decision to raise an overpayment against you and decide whether the debt was correctly raised, correctly calculated and whether the debt should be waived on the basis of special circumstances.
Information about how to request an ARO review will be on your overpayment letter. There is further information available on our website about Centrelink debts and your rights, here.
How to get help from SSRV or refer someone to SSRV
SSRV can provide advice for people who have a Centrelink issue or debt. Call our Legal Assistance Line on 03 9481 0355, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. If you can’t call us, you can email your request for assistance to firstname.lastname@example.org