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Table 7 Dependent Children

Type

What to Verify

What to Request

Who to Contact for Information

Child/student ceases to be dependent - due to pensioner losing care, custody and control

  1. When the dependent child left the pensioner's care.
  2. Reason.
  3. New custody details.
  4. Does a separated partner have custody and if so are they in receipt of any benefit for the child from DVA or Centrelink, or is the client paying maintenance? (If not, the pensioner may still be able to receive the Dependent Child Add On rate).

Copies of any formal custody agreements.

Copies of any maintenance agreements.

Supporting statements from the pensioner and the new custodian of the child.

A Centrelink check if separated partner has custody and is not in payment with DVA.

The pensioner will provide a statement and may have supporting documents if it is a formal custody agreement.

The Family Law Court can provide copies of formal custody agreements.

The Child Support Agency can provide details of custody and maintenance paid.

Verification can also be obtained from a separated partner, the new custodian, or the pensioner's solicitor.

State Children's Courts may be able to provide details for children not considered 'children of marriage'.

Child/student ceases to be dependent - due to ceasing full time education or entering a non-approved course.

  1. Date ceased full time education or entered a non-approved course.
  2. Is child/student now in receipt or have they applied for a social security pension or benefit?
  3. Have they been granted Austudy, Abstudy, VCES?

Statement from pensioner.

Verification from school or educational institute regarding date ceased and if non-approved course, the type of course.

Verification from Centrelink of claim or grant of benefit or pension, or no record of such.

Pensioner should have all the details, but it is advisable to contact the education facility to verify dates and course details.

Child/student ceases to be dependent - due to commencing employment

  1. Date ceased full time education.
  2. Date commenced employment.

Statement from pensioner.

Statement from employer.

The pensioner should be able to provide the dates education ceased and employment commenced. If not contact the school.

The employer can confirm the start date.

Pensioner ceases to contribute support to the child/student

  1. Date support ceased being paid.

Statement from pensioner.

Statement from child's custodian, other parent, solicitor.

A Court Order may have been issued and if so, request a copy.

The pensioner may be able to provide details from their point of view only, so get verification from a third party as listed in the previous column.

Student Child becomes a Prescribed Student Child

  1. Type of allowance being paid and date granted.

Statement from pensioner.

Verification from paying authority.

The pensioner's statement should tell you which authority is paying the student, i.e. Austudy, Abstudy, VCES, etc.

Contact the authority for verification of amounts of allowance and dates paid.

Student Child's income exceeds the allowable limit

  1. Date income exceeded limit.
  2. Type and source of income.

Statement from pensioner, or accountant.

Copy of child's signed and dated Income Tax Return if required.

The pensioner will be able to provide at least general details, but an accountant is more accurate.

If this avenue fails you can contact the ATO for taxable income details for the period.

Notes on table 7

A section 128 VEA notice may be used to obtain information from individuals, employers, State bodies such as schools, and Australian Government bodies that do not have secrecy provisions. Personal information cannot be obtained from Centrelink under section 128 VEA because Centrelink must comply with their secrecy provisions when disclosing information. However, information may be obtained from Centrelink on the basis of a Centrelink Disclosure Certificate for DVA. The Certificate of Disclosure is very specific. Only the information specified in the Certificate of Disclosure may be disclosed. There is no discretion to release information not specified.

Similarly, information cannot be obtained from the ATO under section 128 VEA because the ATO has its own secrecy provision. DVA may still request the ATO to provide information, but DVA must convince the ATO that the request satisfies the requirements of their secrecy provisions. A request for information must be made under paragraph 16(4)(d) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

When requesting information from the ATO the letter must set out that:

The Repatriation Commission is a body corporate that continues to exist under section 179 of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA). The functions of the Repatriation Commission are set out in section 180 of the VEA and include “the general administration of this Act”.

The Repatriation Commission makes a wide range of decisions that impact on the granting of pensions, allowances and other benefits to veterans. It is assisted in the performance of its functions by Australian Public Service employees of the Department of Veterans' Affairs pursuant to 196 of the VEA. These employees (including the author of this letter) exercise delegated powers on behalf of the Repatriation Commission under section 213 of the VEA.

A number of other Australian Government agencies must comply with their own secrecy provisions, and therefore, are unable to respond to a request for information under section 128 VEA. A list of the most relevant secrecy provisions are contained in Schedule 3 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982. The effect of these provisions, is that DVA has no right to demand the exercise of the discretion by the agency subject to the secrecy provisions to release the required information. The normal process is to refer to the secrecy provision itself and frame a request having regard to those requirements.

When investigating any overpayment involving a dependent child, be aware that if the pensioner has a child over the age of 16 who is on Youth Allowance, and no children under 16 year of age, DVA pays rent assistance as part of their service pension or income support supplement.    

More ?

Policy Library – Effect of Children on Assessment of Income Support Payments

P9/C4/S3

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Also, if a pensioner with a saved child is eligible for rent assistance, the rate of rent assistance payable may be increased because of that child.

An additional amount of Remote Area Allowance (RAA) may also be paid to a service pension or Income Support Supplement recipient who has a Family Tax Benefit Child (FTB).

The number of children also affects the ordinary/adjusted income free area for service pension and income support supplement.

Student children who receive an education allowance are not eligible for the Dependent Child Add On rate, but the pensioners can receive an income deduction of $24.00 per fortnight, which is used when calculating any earnings credit. The Earnings Credit Scheme was abolished on 20 March 1997.For more information on the Earnings Credit Scheme refer to this manual's Section 6.5.7 Earnings Credit.

Responsibility for administering Dependent Child Add-on Allowance was transferred to Centrelink on 1 January 1998. To ensure that no pensioner was financially disadvantaged from the transfer, savings provisions were applied to certain categories of cases. DIs C16/1998 and C56/2002 cover the procedures for saved cases.

DI B04/94 refers to a problem in the DVA computer system that allowed children over the age of 18 years who are in receipt of an allowance under the prescribed education scheme, and are not in receipt of a social security Child Disability Allowance, to retain the Guardians Allowance (GA) and the income deduction. The only children over 18 years of age and in receipt of a prescribed allowance that remained eligible for the GA and income deduction after 1 January 1990 were those who were over 18 and already in receipt at that time.