The government agency (formerly the Department of Health and Human Services) said customers may be contacted by either SMS or letter, to remind them that they may need to update their circumstances if they are receiving income from their employer, including through the JobKeeper program.
To determine who they will contact, the agency said it applies risk rules to identify where a customer may not have correctly declared their income to them, and that if the customer meets certain risk criteria, the customer may be contacted by the agency.
How Services Australia will use SMS or letters
It said the “nudge” messages are intended to remind customers of their reporting obligations when receiving a social security payment and to help prevent them from being overpaid.
Services Australia also indicated it might contact a customer via an outbound telephone call to have a conversation about their employment circumstances and to provide an education message.
The conversation is to help the customer understand how and when to correctly report their income while they are receiving a social security payment, the agency said.
Services Australia said it will have its staff explaining to customers the potential consequences of incorrectly updating their circumstances while in receipt of a social security payment.
During this conversation with the customer, they will also discuss the customer’s current employment circumstances to check they have received the correct amount of payment in the past and make sure they will receive the correct amount going forward.
In some cases, the agency said it may contact a customer via a letter (statutory notice) to require the customer to provide certain information to the agency within a reasonable time frame.
If a customer does not provide the required information within the specified time frame, the agency may suspend or subsequently cancel the customer’s social security payment.
“The agency will include contact details for the customer to contact the appropriate area within the agency. Once the customer makes contact, agency staff will deliver an education message about reporting obligations, and also discuss the customer’s current and previous employment circumstances,” Services Australia said.
“If a customer disagrees with any of the information the agency has received from the ATO, the customer is able to advise agency staff at any time. The customer will be able to adjust this information and, if required, provide supporting evidence so the correct information can be applied to their customer record.
“The agency will consider all information when determining if further administrative action is required.”
Checking information with employers
In certain circumstances, the agency also said it may attempt to verify information with a third party, such as an employer.
They will contact an employer and use documentation, including payslips, to help assess a customer’s payment, which may result in identification of an overpayment.
Where required, the agency said it may undertake administrative action, which could include the reduction, suspension or cancellation of benefits and may also include actions to recover overpaid social security payments.
“At any time, the customer is able to request an internal review of a decision. There is no time limit for a customer’s right to an internal review,” the agency said.
“If not satisfied with the outcome of an internal review, a customer can also seek an independent review by applying to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. This information is provided to the customer in correspondence sent to them from the agency during the process.”