A Sydney man has been ordered to repay thousands of dollars worth of welfare payments after Centrelink retrospectively classed him as ‘ineligible’.
Joseph, a 22-year-old student, received a letter from Centrelink that asked he pay back $3000 worth of Youth Allowance payments he received last March.
The Bayside student posted a video on TikTok asking if any other young Aussies had also been classed as ineligible and had received a similar request.
Joseph, a 22-year-old student, (pictured) received a letter from Centrelink that asked he pay back $3000 worth of Youth Allowance payments he received last March
Centrelink claimed the student shouldn’t have been receiving the payments because he was still classed as dependent on his parent’s income and under the age of 22
‘It’s a welfare payment. You can’t just ask people to pay it back to you when you change your mind. What the hell?’, he said.
Joseph said Centrelink claimed he shouldn’t have been receiving the payments during a certain period in 2020 because he was still classed as dependent on his parent’s income and under the age of 22.
However, the student said he has been receiving youth allowance payments on and off for three years as his parent’s income regularly fluctuated.
According to Service NSW, to be eligible for youth allowance you must be between the ages of 18 and 24, and be studying or doing an apprenticeship full-time.
Joseph said he had communicated to Centrelink he was a full-time student and didn’t falsify any information, and was now confused why he was in debt.
In another video, he claimed Centrelink was allowed to ‘go back on’ people’s provided information and decide they were no longer eligible at that time.
Joseph said he had communicated to Centrelink he was a full-time student and didn’t falsify any information, and was now confused why he was in debt $3000
‘I’m technically independent, but I couldn’t be classed as that because I was under the age of 22 years at the time’, he explained.
‘Which is just really bizarre, that if I could have been classed as independent under Centrelink’s criteria, I wouldn’t be $3000 in debt.
‘I just think it’s ridiculous with welfare payments that the Government will happily make you repay a payment if they think you’re not eligible.’
The student said that Centrelink should cancel the welfare payments or give young people resources, rather than ask them to foot the bill.
‘It’s welfare. This isn’t a loan. I didn’t provide any false information. I’m not committing fraud. I submitted everything correctly at the time,’ Joseph said.
‘This is not my mistake, it shouldn’t be something I’m responsible for.’
One woman who claimed to work at Centrelink said the reason Joseph had received the debt was because he had been classed as dependent.
She said if he had failed to notify them of his parents income they wouldn’t overrule it, but if he was incorrectly granted welfare payments by Centrelink he should be able to get the debt waived.
‘Appeal it! If there are notes on the record and it can be proven that you were incorrectly granted, it’s a Centrelink error and it should be waived’, she said.
‘You provided everything so it’s not your error.’
A Services Australia spokesperson said Centrelink is legally required to collect overpayments when it occurs and said unhappy customers can ask for a review of the agency’s decision
At the peak of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020, young people receiving youth allowance payments of $565.70 were awarded an extra coronavirus supplement of $550.
This payment did not have to be applied for, as it was automatically provided to those that had received JobSeeker payments, which went from $550, to $350 to $150 before it was no longer available.
Daily Mail Australia have contacted Services Australia for comment.
A spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that Centrelink is legally required to collect overpayments when it occurs.
‘If a customer doesn’t understand why they’ve received a debt, we encourage them call us on their regular payment line in the first instance, and ask us to explain,’ said Hank Jongen, the general manager of Services Australia.
‘If a customer disagrees with a decision we’ve made, they can ask for a review. They can also provide new information at any time to make sure they’re getting the right support.’