War widow’s $18,000 Centrelink debt

A TRIBUNAL has criticised Centrelink over its handling of the case of a war widow accidentally overpaid more than $18,000.

As the Senate Inquiry into the separate, robo-debt controversy gets underway, the administrative appeals tribunal has published a scathing decision calling on the agency to upgrade its systems after handling the case “badly and inefficiently”.

The case, before tribunal member Donald Morris, concerned a war widow who was receiving payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs after her husband died in 2005, along with the family tax benefit and childcare benefits.

Centrelink’s failure to take account of her former partner’s income meant that the mother-of-four was overpaid, despite keeping the agency informed of her circumstances over the years.

Bureaucrats at the agency described the cause as “a known system issue” in a file note, prompting the tribunal member to make pointed remarks about the need for reform.

“It is clear to me that the debts came a…

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