There are different ways we may be able to help you with your social security problem. If we can’t help we may be able to refer you to someone who can.

The law about social security and family assistance can be complicated, and it often changes.

If you:

  • claim a Centrelink benefit you aren't entitled to, or

  • don't tell Centrelink when something changes that may affect your payments,

you may have to repay any money you were not entitled to. In some cases you could also be charged with social security fraud. In this situation, you will need legal advice.

If you are contacted by Centrelink because you have been overpaid, to review your entitlements or about any other issue, it's important to get legal advice before you make any statements or answer any questions.

Can we help?

If you:

  • have not been charged but you have received a letter saying you owe money to Centrelink (debt recovery proceedings may have started) you may be able to get legal advice from our Civil Law Division.

  • have been charged with a Social Security/Centrelink offence and your case is at court you may be able to get legal advice, duty lawyer assistance at court, and/or a grant of legal aid to be represented at court. 

  • are seeking a review of a decision and you do not agree with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s (AAT) first review, the AAT can book an appointment for you to get legal advice through the duty lawyer service offered by the Civil Law Division (usually every second Monday).

To access our services, or if you are unsure which service you need, call our Infoline.

Centrelink - What’s the law?

We have video and learning resources with simple legal information about Centrelink for people who have recently arrived in Australia.

Where else can I get help?

When should I get legal advice about social security matters?

Some of the situations where you should get legal advice include:

You are concerned about prosecution

People who receive an overpayment may, in some circumstances, also be prosecuted in the criminal courts. This can happen even if you have paid the money back.

Centrelink can use any information you give them to assist in prosecuting you.

If you:

  • are concerned about prosecution or you are invited to an interview or make a statement you should seek legal advice

  • go to an interview, Centrelink can make a record of what you say and can use it in court later.

You want to appeal

If you disagree with a decision of Centrelink and wish to know the procedures for appealing decisions made by Centrelink. Sometimes you must start your appeal within 13 weeks.

Centrelink wants you to provide information

You have:

  • received a letter requesting that you attend an interview with Centrelink been asked to provide a statement

  • been intimidated by a Centrelink employee

  • received notice from Centrelink that you have an overpayment, and you disagree with it

  • been refused a disability support pension or your current disability support pension has been decreased or stopped

  • been charged with social security fraud

  • received a compensation payout

  • received a letter from Centrelink and you don't understand it

  • been refused a benefit you believe you are entitled to

  • been refused payment of a special benefit.

If you are unable to access a social security benefit because of a compensation payout and you are experiencing financial hardship.
You disagree with a waiting period.
Your payments:
  • have been suspended or stopped and you do not understand why.

  • have been stopped or decreased and you disagree.


Reviewed: 20 September 2022


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.