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11.6.4 Guidelines for waiver
Where a decision has been made to waive an overpayment debt, a delegate must provide adequate reasons for that decision. Given that all waiver decisions are non-renounceable, those reasons must clearly support this course of action.
Each case should be considered on its own merits, Delegates must not have regard to any other matter and their decision should be free from bias.
A waiver decision will be appropriate where it is clear that recovery of the debt would be inequitable or cause ongoing financial hardship. For example, in cases where:
- the overpayment was due to an administrative error and repayment would leave the person in worse circumstances than if the debt had never arisen or suffering a reduction in living standards that is unacceptable by community standards; or
- where debt recovery would cause a person to incur an unintended debt to the Commonwealth.
There is no particular form to request a waiver. Applicants should submit a written request:
- specifying the legislation to which the debt relates;
- explaining how the overpayment arose and why waiver would be appropriate in their circumstances; and
- provide suitable evidence in support of the application.
While there is no time limit for the submission of a waiver request, the assessment of a request will be more problematic if significant delays occur.
Prior to a decision being made, it is important to ensure the applicant has been afforded procedural fairness. This includes providing an opportunity for the applicant to:
- present his or her claims/allegations in writing; and
- comment on all relevant information/material/documents and/or potentially adverse materials that will be considered by the decision maker.
The Debt Management Section should be advised as soon as the decision to waive a debt is made. In the event that Debt Management have not already been advised of the overpayment, they must be advised of the overpayment amount.
Delegates making a decision to waive a debt must be at the EL1 level or above.