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Comments for What's all the fuss about Centrelink reclaiming debts? A summary and a simple example.

By System @system2016-12-30 19:14:47.000Z

There are 24 replies. Estimated reading time: 18 minutes

  1. K
    Remedios Solomon's @Kazahen18732020-06-28 22:16:29.480Z

    Hi my is Remedios Solomon's.
    Ii have share to media as well about this Robot from center 2015 I received a letter from center I owed 12 thausand dollar. And am already in 5he collector. I been am so upsit I don't what I have to do I just been in depression because my brother dia and after my mum I can't even go home. I right letter in the human resources. They told that it's the tax problems. I reng the taxi but I don't have answer I go crazy because every year I do my tax. I work hard to pay that stupid things until I paid off I sorry for my son we can't go anywhere. But I so depress it really bad I lend up I have a mild stroke. I try fight my my depression i I always pray. Intil I come out in the hospital I just have one day I want back to because of the money I owed in center even my face it's not good because I have belporcy I keep going working. That time am lost u thinking that money I owed. Now am really bad in my situation. Until I have accedent at I lend up in hospital spinal cord is brocken.until I don't have job now I just want to go home in my country I hope they pay as back.because I can't handle it anymore.i hope that this it's gonna be solved

    1. M
      In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
      Michael Morton2016-12-31 02:36:14.000Z

      Only slightly? you are an exemplar of fortitude. And thankyou.

      1. D
        In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
        David Nagel2016-12-31 05:37:37.000Z

        Well said I had a client prosecuted for receiving a benefit not payable etc. when the computer showed she declared income of $1,400 one fortnight but she was charged on the basis she had declared no income - clearly wrong yet the magistrate said it must be an error but never stating the basis for this finding.

        1. A
          In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
          Anon2016-12-31 06:13:14.000Z

          June 31st 2010?. That will really screw up the Centrelink computers.

          1. JJason Heeris2016-12-31 07:39:44.000Z

            Ahaha boom. Fixed :)

          2. C
            In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
            Chris Nelson2016-12-31 07:50:01.000Z

            After the edit it says June 30st 2010. Still wrong I think....

            1. JJason Heeris2016-12-31 08:03:31.000Z

              FFS. I even have the start of the last financial year already written there, which is what I meant anyway.

            2. M2
              In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
              megpie712017-01-02 01:05:18.000Z

              It's getting even better. As of January 1 2017, there's no statute of limitations on how far back Centrelink is allowed to check for "debts" like this. Yup, you read that right - as of 1 January 2017, there is no limitation on how far back Centrelink is allowed to run their "debt recovery" process. So technically, they could go right back to the beginning of the social security system in the 1940s, depending on how hard Mr Porter (the Minister for Human Services) wants to push things.

              Which means if you're a recipient of a Centrelink benefit, you're best off hanging onto every single scrap of financial paperwork you ever get for as long as you can. Given a lot of Centrelink beneficiaries are also people who are renting, and therefore moving around a fair bit (given the nature of the Australian rental market), this is going to prove interesting over the course of the next year or so. Fascinating this came after a period of cutting the funding for community legal services and other such services for people on low incomes, isn't it? Why, you'd almost suspect there was a plan... (or at least, you would if it hadn't happened under the current government).

              1. P
                In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                pepperhead2u2017-01-02 06:26:21.000Z

                I now have to prove to Centrelink my income for a whole year when I only was on benefit for 18 weeks - 16 weeks of which I worked and declared that I was working and received no payment - all due to their new system - thank you for this article - I wondered why after almost 3 years they some how (incorrectly) worked out I had a debt

                1. A2
                  In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                  Andrew McQueen2017-01-03 12:07:37.000Z

                  If the government wants to make some extra money why don't they send out debt notices to all the multi million and multi billion dollar companies who have paid no tax in Australia stating that they must immediately pay 30% tax on their total declared income unless they are able to provide proof in writing to the ATO of any deductions. Back date this back to 2010 so any company that has paid 0 tax in the last 7 years is sent one of these letters, and while the government waits for evidence from them they have to begin paying back the debts they owe as well as any recovery fees.

                  1. A3
                    In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                    AndroidsRule2017-01-06 00:48:28.000Z

                    Just watching Barnaby claiming the system is great whilst saying it's OK for a Liberal MP to go to the Gold Coast to buy an investment home with the excuse that she was going there to make an announcement that could have been done from her electorate office. Seems it's OK for LNP pollies to claim thousands in fake travel expenses used for personal business but woe betide anyone who is caught by illegal Centrelink methods for 300 dollars.

                    1. C2
                      In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                      Chris BSomething2017-01-06 02:15:56.000Z

                      My having a son with an intellectual disability, who tries to navigate the vagaries of Centrelink in order to get some kind of payment, the shocking part of all this is the news that anybody has ever been able to squeeze any money out of Centrelink in the first place. Who knew that was possible? I thought they just shunt you between bureaucrats until you give up.

                      1. S
                        In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                        Steve Tonks2017-01-09 08:51:16.000Z

                        As yet another person affected by this debacle, I’d like to know how to obtain payslips for the periods I didn’t work at my temp job back in 2010/2011.
                        In fact I’ve never received a payslip for periods I didn’t work. I have all my bank statements from the period and these show when and how much (net) I was paid. These figures line up perfectly with what I declared to Centrelink fortnightly, as required. Yet I have been told by Centrelink staff that I need to obtain and produce payslips for the period, otherwise I will be indebted to them for $3,414 plus 10%. Something here stinks really, really bad. I’m hoping the review into this fiasco announced today by the Federal Ombudsman gets this sorted out before Centrelink starts deducting my erroneous debt from my pension. If Centrelink are certain I received benefits I am not entitled to (I didn't), then I challenge them to refer my case to the Federal DPP.

                        1. Nnoobdeagle2017-01-10 08:33:43.000Z

                          you just need to provide payslips for when you did work the amounts will add up and the gaps can be accounted for. you dont need payslips with 0 on them for the gaps.

                          1. SSteve Tonks2017-01-10 11:46:52.000Z

                            Thank you noobdeagle but who keeps payslips from 2010/2011? I have applied to the temp agency to provide me with a documentary evidence stating when I was employed and when I wasn't during this period, I hope they are forthcoming otherwise I'm facing a supposed debt plus 10%.

                            When did social security law change? I understand (from DHS internal document 107-02040020) that "Employment income for workforce age customers should be assessed for the fortnight the income is earned."
                            I have seen no evidence (as required) to support the claim that a legally recoverable debt exists.

                            I dutifully declared income each fortnight (or none where such was the case) and benefit was paid accordingly (or not). I have all my bank statements for the period and these line up perfectly (albeit net amounts) with my declared fortnightly income. The gaps (longest being 9 weeks straight) are obvious, no income was deposited into my bank account. I have compiled a spreadsheet detailing dates and amounts paid as either earned income or Newstart allowance, this clearly shows the real position. What really bugs me is that it appears no-one has looked at the data I declared fortnightly as it is obvious from this where the gaps are.
                            I am now exchanging correspondence with the relevant Minister's (Tudge) office and failing a correct outcome here I will lodge an appeal to the Administrative Appeal Tribunal.

                        2. D2
                          In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                          David Wearing2017-01-10 03:11:14.000Z

                          The Centrelink Payment Recovery System is the way it is "By Design" and is working as intended (however inept the data manipulation, business rules etc embodied in the software). There is no getting away from the fact that the core business process progresses through debt identification, notification and debt recovery in a sequential business process "As Designed". The use of debt recovery contractors and the inability to contend or contest are "By Design" and have been put in place to implement this business process to achieve the desired outcome. This clearly demonstrates the malicious intent and supreme lack of ethical, moral or legal considerations by those in power. These are NOT unintended consequences or accidental, it is all "As Designed"! Good luck to us all if this is the LNP "caring society".

                          (Don't get me started on Big Business Taxation or lack thereof, Sheesh)

                          1. A4AndrejPanjkov2017-01-11 08:29:02.000Z

                            I agree. I've worked on payroll software, and something as naive and lazy as assuming average fortnightly earnings to be actual fortnightly earnings would have been spotted by the devs and flagged as an issue. This looks like they were ordered to implement this dodgy business rule. I'd love to see FOI on the directions to the devs.

                          2. N
                            In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                            noobdeagle2017-01-10 08:30:04.000Z

                            problem 1 is wrong the algorithm splits the data across the period that the employer lodges to the ATO lots of employers will submit the correct employment dates and other do not. if the employer submitted the correct time that income was earned there is no issue (most of the time)

                            the 'algorithm' DOES NOT by default use a division by 26. by default it uses the period the employer informs the ATO of the employment. (the example in the internal document for verification assumes employer listed from 1/7 - 30/06)

                            this process is the same as actual people were doing before only difference now is it is automated in the past Centerlink would attempt a contact then a human would apply the data the exact same way. media has not done their research very well in this regard.

                            1. JJason Heeris2017-01-10 22:38:46.000Z

                              This doesn't change the issue much. Firstly, if I've understood you correctly, the algorithm still assumes constant earnings across the reporting period, which is incorrect most of the time and will always err in Centrelink's favour. Secondly, even if the "divide by 26" rule is being applied only some of the time, it is still going to be incorrect most of the time it's applied. Thirdly, whether or not the employer reports correctly is not in the power of the employee, so it's not fair to punish the employee for this mistake.

                              Possibly fourthly, although I'm not 100% sure, employers of casual staff who routinely work long periods without shifts eg. students, won't split the period of employment at the start and end of each break. From their perspective the person is still employed, they just happen to have zero hours over certain periods.

                              So "problem 1" still applies to a great many people, the only difference now being it's conditional upon an employer not reporting income periods correctly. How common this is (as in, how many employees are affected, not how many employers do it) determines how big the problem is. If I can confirm what you say, I'll add a sentence to that effect.

                              I have already corrected the statement about the algorithm being new (I've updated it to state that the algorithm was already in place and that the big change was removal of oversight). If I am to correct the other details I will need a source for what you say.

                              1. In reply tonoobdeagle:
                                A4AndrejPanjkov2017-01-11 08:26:50.000Z

                                Yes, but a lot of employers are going to be lazy and just use the start/end of FY dates, or some other convenient default, because they never anticipated that the dates were going to be used for a shakedown. Both my employers used convenient defaults that were different to my actual start and end dates. And - what does an employer do when they have a casual who works multiple gigs in a year? Issue multiple Payment Summaries? I suspect a lot of them issue a single Payment Summary covering all the gigs.

                                It is clearly a fiction to assume a computed __average__ fortnightly income (computed over 26 fortnights, or however many) is an __actual__ fortnightly income.

                                Desk compliance officers know that actual income can be different from an average, and will sniff out the real problems. I'm sure they've seen lazy default start/end dates and know that they are less authoritative. I would love to see the source code of the software vomiting out all these false positives. You seem to know the algorithm, can you post it?

                              2. D3
                                In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                                David Tadman2017-03-05 14:20:40.000Z

                                Centrelink place the onus upon the recipient to ensure they are not overpaid. On enquiry however requesting the basis of calculation of a payment for several clients I was advised by Centrelink staff that it is illegal for them to provide the recipient with that information. The Centrelink officer stated that the law requires a Freedom of information application to be lodged to obtain this information. If you were to check each fortnight the Freedom of information fees would be a large slice of the part pension paid and the time frames exhorbitant.

                                1. D3
                                  In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                                  David Tadman2017-03-05 14:25:45.000Z

                                  I have another client who was told over the phone 6 years ago she owed $13000 for not declaring her income. She is mentally disabled and under Centrelink rules in special circumstances that do not require collection of the debt. Now she has paid over $14000 through deduction from her pension and she still has a debt of $6800. How can this be a fair system. The Centrelink staff were aware of her disability but took advantage of her limited capacity rather than refer her for financial counselling. She could have declared bankruptcy and been free of all repercussions years ago. Sure we have to recover from the Cheats and Fraudsters but the system is dealiing with people severely disadvantaged and they don't give a ....

                                  1. E
                                    In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                                    eric noack2017-06-11 13:10:51.000Z

                                    I would point you to this page.
                                    Which clearly handles a mistake made by centrelink regarding over payment when it is their fault and they had been advised by the changes but had not actioned it correctly or did not action it at all.


                                    1. B
                                      In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
                                      bulla512017-11-15 17:00:07.000Z

                                      Do you think those who are caught for dual citizenship will be asked to payback benefits derived by them from tax payers money?I don't think so.