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SA Centrelink Debt and Youth Allowance - What to Do?

Discussion in 'Debt and Bankruptcy Law Forum' started by Sarah Anne, 19 February 2016.

  1. Sarah Anne

    Sarah Anne Member

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    So, I recently became aware of a debt which was owed to Centrelink which amounted to $2500. However, the debt was first appointed when I was a minor, and the contract was signed, again, when I was a minor.

    Another thing that is bizarre to me was that they said I wasn't declaring income, however, I had made a phone call when I first started working to cancel the Youth Allowance. This phone call is not on their system, not sure why this phone call wasn't documented, but obviously irrespective of the phone call I was still receiving payments.

    I was unaware that money was still be received as the Youth Allowance was being transferred directly into my mother''s account. She was very mentally sick at this time (she suffers from Bipolar/Schizophrenia Disorder) and was not aware herself.

    The debt has been given to a debt collection agency, however, they are requesting that I pay the full amount via credit card as soon as possible, though as I am not comfortable I have denied their request, and have told them to take me to court about it.

    Basically, I would like to know whether they have any legal ground, as I was only 16 when this occurred and for the fact it was even going into my bank account, and not to mention, I called them to cancel it. As far as I was concerned, I had done the right thing and cancelled it as soon as I commenced employment.

    Any guidance would be deeply appreciated.
     
  2. CathL

    CathL Well-Known Member

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    Have you made an appointment to speak with a Centrelink staff member at a branch who can help you?
     
  3. Sarah Anne

    Sarah Anne Member

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    I called them to appeal the debt, they've denied that request. Not sure what other options I should pursue.
     
  4. Nic33

    Nic33 Member

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    You can call the National Welfare Rights Network for free legal advice re Centrelink matters. Good luck!
     
  5. Hope this helps

    Hope this helps Well-Known Member

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    Sarah Anne youth allowance payments belong to you and it is paid directly into your account. You would have had to fill in a form and provided prove that the payments made to you was in an account in your name. If you set these payments up to be transferred into your mothers account, this was done with your consent. At 16 yrs of age you may be classed as a minor by law but in regards to Centrelink at 16, you are old enough to sign, open a bank account, provide proof of identity and be paid youth allowance directly to you for your access.

    Yes, you may have rung Centrelink and told them and this occurs daily, people thinking if they ring Centrelink and let them know you now have a job, you want to stop payments of any kind that this is enough and that's all they have to do is report it. However, you may or may not have been told (depending on the person you spoke to) that you are supposed to go into Centrelink and lodge a form detailing when you commenced work, etc and sign it.

    If this was your first job, you would have to provide Centrelink your tax file number as well. Put this application form into Centrelink . Or go into Centrelink and state you have commenced employment and they will give you the correct form, check that it has been filled in correctly with your correct details and required your signature before stamping it and lodging the Application form required.

    However, the fact is - you received these payments of the amount you have stated. Therefore, you must pay back the amount owed.

    Whether you bother to check your bank account, gave your consent for your youth allowance to be directly paid into your mothers bank account or you yourself went to your bank and arranged for your youth allowance to be automatically transferred into your mothers bank account- is not a reason nor excuse not to pay back monies owed to Centrelink
    .
    Centrelink payments are not gifts, nor are you entitled to receive any Centrelink payments whether the mistake was made by Centrelink or made by you.

    Therefore, I suggest you check through bank account details- note date of payments made from
    Centrelink after you started your job and if you're earning were More or less than the allowed amount from the date you received your first earnings to when you received Youth Allowance.

    Go to Centrelink with your bank statements , weekly pay slip, tax file number ( as they can obtain full information from the ATO when you start , how much you earn, etc.

    Make arrangements with Centrelink to pay back the sum owed to the amount affordable on a weekly,fort nightly or monthly basis.

    You can ring up the debt collectors and do the same thing ( however you must have received addressed in your name, numerous letters from Centrelink to contact them and the reason why including the amount before debt collectors were called in to retrieve the amount owing.

    The bottom line is that Centrelink payments are not free. Whether they made the mistake or you made the mistake does not alter the fact that you received Gov. Funding ( monies) you were not entitled to receive and they must recover this amount.

    You can ask Centrelink for this to be investigated. You can make an appointment to sit down and they will bring up your records, including information from the taxation office and explain to you fully the arrived amount. Either way , you must return the amount Recieved back to Centrelink.

    I would not advise you to take the attitude of 'take me to court' infact I would suggest to avoid going to Court at all costs because not only will you have to pay the sum of monies owed to Centrelink but also you can be fined for not attempting to do so, accused of fraud or embezzlement, pay penalty and fined for not giving correct information, withholding information, falsely receiving Gov. monies, and several other things.

    Plus all court costs.

    Which do you think will cost less?
     
    winston wolf likes this.

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