What does Centrelink define as a debt?
A debt is any payment made by Centrelink to someone who is not entitled to it. Where an overpayment has been made Centrelink raises a debt against that person for the amount overpaid.
A debt can also arise in a variety of situations ranging from a person incorrectly receiving a payment through no fault of their own to a person incorrectly receiving a payment as a result of deliberate fraud.
Section 1222A of the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth) defines the circumstances where a debt can be raised against a person.
Where notification of a debt to Centrelink is made in writing, always seek independent advice on whether the debt is owed or any other residual issues. Independent legal advice can be sought by contacting the Legal Services Commission on 1300 366 424. Where appropriate, a referral may also be made to a community legal service for assistance. Debts can sometimes be raised in error, or an error may have been made as to the amount owed, so it is always appropriate to obtain independent legal advice before paying or challenging a debt.