Effective January 1, 2007, a concerned party can appeal a Child Support Agency decision with the Social Security Appeal Tribunal (SSAT) within 28 days upon receipt of the decision. Appeals may be filed by telephone, fax, in writing or by going to the SSAT office.
The appeal may also be lodged with the CSA and Centrelink which provide appeal forms. The assailed decision of the CSA must be attached to the appeal. Filing an appeal with the SSAT is free.
A party who fails to file an appeal within the required 28 days may apply for an extension of time along with the appeal. The party must explain the delay and the appeal will be placed on hold until the application for extension is granted. If the SSAT denies the application for extension, the party may appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) within 28 days from receipt of the SSAT decision.
Once the SSAT receives the appeal, it will then set a date for hearing. Notices will be sent to the concerned parties and the CSA. The party who did not file the appeal will be notified and given the option of participating in the appeal or being removed as a party. If such party opts to participate in the appeal, he can make written or oral submissions during the hearing. All parties to the appeal can provide additional information to the SSAT 14 days before the hearing.
An SSAT hearing is more like a meeting that is held in private and is not as formal as a court hearing. The case will be heard by two or three SSAT members who will direct the flow of the hearing and will give each party the opportunity to be heard. The following may happen during SSAT hearings:
In deciding the appeal, the SSAT will consider the evidence and application of relevant child support legislation. In its decision, it may confirm the original CSA decision; vary the original decision; set aside the original decision and replace it with a new decision; or, set aside the original decision and remand the case to the CSA for reconsideration.
An SSAT decision can be appealed to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court only on questions of law. The Notice of Appeal must be filed with the court within 28 days upon receipt of the SSAT decision. If the SSAT decision pertains to the care of the children, the decision may be appealed to the AAT within 28 days.