It is possible to object to many of the decisions made by the Department of Human Services if an error has been made in determining the facts or applying the law. The Department of Human Services is required to inform people of their objection rights when a decision is made. An objection is usually required to be in writing, but the exception to this rule is that objections in relation to level of care decisions can be made orally, either in person or by telephone.
A person has 28 days in which to object to a decision by the Department of Human Services. This time limit is usually strictly enforced. An application for an extension of time in which to object to a decision can be made either in writing or by telephone.
The most common decisions which can be objected to include:
- decisions in relation to a Change of Assessment application;
- decisions to accept or refuse an Estimate of Income;
- decisions in relation to the level of care of the children used in the assessment;
- decisions to accept or refuse a Child Support Agreement;
- decisions in relation to remission of late payment penalties, or non-agency payments.
Appeals to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal
Since 1 January 2007 the Social Security Appeals Tribunal has been able to review many objection decisions made by the Department of Human Services. A person must first have objected to the decision through the Department of Human Services’s objection process, before lodging an appeal with the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. An appeal can be lodged with the SSAT by telephone (1800 011 140).
When an appeal is lodged, the Department of Human Services provides all relevant documents on the case to the SSAT and a copy is given to each party. The Tribunal is able to request that further information be provided to assist it to make a decision.
If the appeal is related to a Change of Assessment decision, a pre-hearing conference is often held to identify the issues and determine if further information is required from either party.
Both parties attend the hearing in person, although in some circumstances arrangements can be made to attend by telephone. A person can bring along a support person, but the Tribunal will decide if the support person is allowed to attend the hearing. A party can have a legal representative attend the hearing if they wish.
If a person is dissatisfied with an objection decision made by the Department of Human Services, he or she has 28 days in which to lodge an appeal to the SSAT. This time limit is usually strictly enforced. An application can be made to the SSAT for an extension of time in which to appeal.
Social Security Appeals Tribunal
Freecall 1800 011 140
TTY 1800 060 116
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.