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12.2.1 Overview of Information Gathering Powers
Who can we request information from?
The Secretary or his delegate can request information from applicants or recipients of pensions, payments, benefits or allowances. Information can also be gathered from a person who is indebted to the Commonwealth by way of an overpayment for example, or from a person employed by, or in connection with, a government department.
What information can we gather?
Information gathering powers are most commonly used for
- investigation of a pension claim;
- investegation of veteran payment eligability;
- review of a pension or payment rate; or
- investigation of an overpayment.
The Secretary or his delegate can request any information that is relevant to the payment or application of pension, payment or associated benefits or allowances.
How can we gather information?
A person can be asked to provide specific information including:
- information on a Departmental form,
- documents within that person's custody or control, or
- answers to questions before a Departmental officer.
Using the correct information gathering powers
The VEA contains information gathering provisions that cover various situations or groups of people:
- sections 54A and 54AA provide the power to gather information from service pension, veteran payment or ISS recipients or applicants,
- section 127 can be used to gather information from applicants or recipients of disability pension and war widow's/widower's pension, and associated benefits and allowances, and
- section 128 is a general provision allowing information to be gathered from a person, including a government employee or person indebted to the Commonwealth.
Requirements for information gathering
A notice issued to a person requesting information must tell the person where, when and how they are to provide the information.
Non-Compliance with notices
A person must comply with a notice to the extent that they are capable of complying. There are penalties for failure or refusal to comply, or knowingly providing misleading information.
Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.
A service pension is an income support payment broadly equivalent to the social security age and disability support pensions. It may be paid once a veteran or partner has reached the nominated age or is incapacitated for work.
ISS is an income support payment that may be paid to eligible war widows and widowers under the VEA and persons receiving wholly dependent partners' compensation under the MRCA, and who satisfy the means tests. It is an indexed rate, increased twice-yearly in March and September in line with changes to the cost of living and/or average wages. Income Support Supplement (ISS) legislation commenced on 20 March 1995. It is a payment created to replace the ceiling rate income support age, carer, wife and disability support pensions, paid to war widows/widowers by Centrelink.
Disability pension, for the purposes of service pension and income support supplement, means:
- a pension paid for incapacity from war caused conditions, or peacetime, peacekeeping or hazardous service caused conditions (other than a war widow's or orphan's pension); or
- temporary incapacity allowance; or
- any other payment in respect of incapacity or death resulting from war or war-like operations in which the Crown has been engaged [usually paid by another Commonwealth country].
A form of pension that is paid to the partner of a veteran where the veteran has died as a result of war service or eligible Defence Service. War widow's/widower's pension is also paid to the partner of a veteran whose death was not war caused if the veteran was a ex-prisoner of war or if the veteran was receiving Extreme Disablement Adjustment Rate, Special Rate (T&PI) or a rate increased in respect of certain war-caused injury or disease.