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11.3.1 General recovery (Division 1)

It is generally expected that an overpayment will be recovered from a person.  However, the MRCA does contain provisions permitting the Commonwealth to write-off or waive all or a part of the debt where special circumstances exist.

Division 1 of Part 3 of Chapter 11 provides for the recovery of any general overpayments made under the MRCA.  Section 415 states that monies are recoverable where:

  • compensation is paid on the basis of a false or misleading statement or representation, or because of a failure or omission to comply with the MRCA;
  • an amount of compensation is paid that should not have been paid; or
  • a person is liable to pay an amount under the MRCA to the Commonwealth.

Section 415 identifies two possible methods of recovering monies:

  • through a court as a debt due to the Commonwealth;  or
  • by deducting the relevant amount from any future MRCA amounts payable to the person.

To determine which of these options is appropriate the delegate must examine the actual circumstances leading to the overpayment.  For example, the preferred means for recovering an overpayment caused by a departmental offsetting error would generally be through deductions from future amounts payable to the person.

Overpayments can be identified through a range of channels.  These include various processing cells, Quality Assurance (QA) audits, and even by the claimant.  Once identified, the Debt Management Section must be notified of any overpayment raised.

While the responsible processing unit will negotiate the most appropriate method of recovery, the Debt Management Section is available to provide assistance and is responsible for monitoring the progress of debt recovery action.

Exclusions from the above recovery process are:

  • overpayments resulting from the payment of treatment (sections 315 to 317) depending on the particular circumstances of the case; or
  • overpayments resulting from the payment of Commonwealth Superannuation (Division 2 of Part 3 of Chapter 11 applies).

A determination under section 415 is not an 'original determination' as defined in section 345(1) of the MRCA, and cannot be appealed to the VRB or AAT other than on the question of quantum.  Only the quantum of the claim and the manner of recovery may be negotiated.