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This fact sheet answers questions about applying to the AAT for a first review of a Centrelink decision about a debt.

PDF versions of this fact sheet are available in the following languages:

Arabic, English and Simplified Chinese.

Answers to questions about your Centrelink debt review

What does the AAT need to decide?

The AAT needs to decide:

  • whether you owe a debt
  • the amount of any debt
  • whether any debt should be repaid.

How does the AAT decide if you owe a debt?

The AAT looks at what caused the debt and works out the amount you should have been paid under the Social Security Law.

A debt is the difference between the amount you were paid by Centrelink and the amount you should have been paid in a particular period. Most debts are caused by a change in circumstances, for example a change in your income, assets or family arrangements.

What information can I provide to support my review?

At the hearing, the AAT Member will ask you about your application and consider all of the information that you present, including any documents you have provided about your case.

The most useful information to provide to the AAT about whether you owe a debt is about your circumstances between the dates when the debt starts and ends.

If you want the AAT to consider whether you should repay the debt, you should also bring information about your current circumstances.


Below are some examples of Centrelink debt decisions and the evidence you can provide to assist the AAT to review the decision. You are not limited to providing the documents suggested in this fact sheet and the information you provide will depend on your individual case.

What if I disagree with a debt about my employment income?

The most helpful evidence to provide includes:

  • payslips
  • group certificates
  • taxation notice of assessments and taxation returns
  • bank statements
  • other documents about the gross employment income you received. 

What if I disagree with a debt about the valuation of my assets?

The most helpful evidence to provide includes:

  • valuation from a qualified valuer (a specific valuation of your asset will be more helpful than a general valuation)
  • evidence of sale for a similar asset
  • evidence from valuation services or websites.

What if I disagree with having to repay the debt because Centrelink didn’t update my details correctly?

The most helpful evidence to provide includes:

  • receipt numbers of your contacts with Centrelink
  • phone records showing the date you contacted Centrelink
  • copies of letters or emails to Centrelink
  • any other details about how, when and why you contacted Centrelink.

What if I disagree with a student debt about my study load?

The most helpful evidence to provide includes:

  • academic transcript
  • letter from the Institution where you studied
  • attendance records
  • any other document that proves you met study requirements
  • medical reports or other documents that show why you were unable to meet study requirements.

What if I disagree with having to repay the debt because of the special circumstances in my case?  

‘Special circumstances’ may include any circumstances, or combination of circumstances, that make your case different from the ordinary case.

The most helpful evidence to provide includes:

  • an explanation of your circumstances  
  • information about how the repayment of the debt will affect you
  • medical reports
  • completion of the Statement of Financial Circumstances form (The AAT will send you this form)
  • bank statements, invoices or letters about any other current debts
  • details of bankruptcy (if this applies to you)
  • any other information or documents that prove your circumstances.  

Contact us

For more information about the AAT and how we conduct reviews, go to our website or call us. Our staff can give you information about procedures but cannot give you legal advice.

Email:  [email protected]

Post:  GPO Box 9955, Your capital city (Northern Territory residents should write to Adelaide)

In person or by fax:


Level 2

1 King William Street


Fax (08) 8128 8099


Level 6

295 Ann St


Fax (07) 3052 3001


Level 8

14 Moore St


Fax (02) 6243 4600


Edward Braddon Building

Commonwealth Law Courts

39–41 Davey St


Fax (03) 6232 1601


Level 4

15 William St


Fax (03) 9454 6998


Level 13

111 St Georges Terrace


Fax (08) 6222 7299


Level 6

83 Clarence St


Fax (02) 9276 5599



Telephone: If you want more information or assistance, call us on 1800 228 333 (calls are free from landline phones, however calls from mobiles may be charged).

Non-English speakers can call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and ask them to call the AAT.

If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, contact us through the National Relay Service. For more information, visit


When this Fact Sheet refers to “You” it means the applicant, and includes his or her nominee, representative or support person. When it refers to “We” or “Us” it means the AAT.