Ask Abe: Centrelink Over-payment

Dear Abe,

I have just received a letter from Centrelink saying that I have been overpaid. I had been reporting my income according to my jobs’ pay fortnight, but they wanted it to be according to their pay fortnight. I didn’t try to hide money from them. I’ve declared everything, but they’re getting really angry because it makes a difference to my student income bank.

Fortnight Mismatch

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Dear Mismatch,

As you need to report your gross earnings you should be able to just keep records of the amount of hours you have worked during your Centrelink fortnight and multiply that by your hourly rate. That will help you for future reportings.

However, for this situation you need to first establish whether or not you have been overpaid. Ask for a copy of your file (Freedom of Information Act). Your file will be huge so it will take weeks to compile. Calculate what you should have been reporting and how this would have affected your Student Income Bank and therefore your payments. Of course you can ask the SRC for help with this.

In the meantime Centrelink will probably start taking money out of your payments to pay off the debt. If this will cause you extreme financial hardship contact Centrelink and see how small a payment they will allow you to have. Also consider going to the Financial Assistance Centre of the University to be able to pay it off as a lump sum. If you can show the debt to be incorrect you will be able to get this money back.

If they ask you to attend an interview in their offices I would advise you to decline, but instead offer to answer any written questions that they have. Do not do this without talking to SRC Help.

Abe

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