Social Security / Centrelink Offences

Social Security and Centrelink offences refer to obtaining a benefit from the Commonwealth Government where there is no entitlement.

A person is guilty of an offence of this kind if they engage in conduct and as a result of that conduct, they obtain a financial advantage knowing or believing that they are not eligible to receive that financial advantage.

One of the most common ways people are alleged to have defrauded the government is by not correctly declaring income from employment. For example, they either fail to advise Centrelink that they are employed, or they declare some income but the amount declared is under the actual amount earned.

Other ways in which Centrelink Fraud offences can be committed include:

  • failing to declare a partner’s income;
  • failing to advise Centrelink that you are living as a couple (either married or in a de facto relationship);
  • claiming benefits under multiple names or identities; and
  • continuing to claim benefits for children no longer under your care.

What are the penalties for Centrelink fraud?

Deterring others in the community from committing similar offences plays a very important role in the sentencing process for offences of this type.

Penalties in this area can be severe, and jail sentences for even relatively minor frauds are not uncommon.

The likely sentence imposed will depend on a number of factors including:

  • the amount of money obtained, and the length of the fraud;
  • any attempts at concealing the offending or any level of sophistication;
  • if there were any false statements made or any positive attempts to deceive;
  • any money paid back to Centrelink; and
  • whether the money was obtained as a result of “need” as opposed to “greed”.

Gilshenan & Luton has significant expertise and experience in the area of defending and responding to allegations of social security fraud.