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Question about SSAT forms ??

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12 months ago my OH changed jobs. He was working away from home 7 days on 7 off. His Doctor recommend he change the environment he worked in because of illness. His income went from 90k p.a, to 40k p.a. As he was on an income amount order we had to go through a COA to get his child support reduced to reflect his lower earnings. We won the COA (thanks to his GP who provided medical evidence) but his reduced payment rate was only back dated to when we put in the COA form. We objected to the back dating date and we won again, CSA backdated it to the date he changed jobs.

His ex was livid, during the COA she tried to demand CSA pay to send him to a medical specialist, include my income and for CSA to make us move to another area where she had found higher earning jobs for him. All totally ridiculous and out of the scope of the legislation, CSA even told her that.

Last week we received a letter from SSAT, saying the ex had been granted an extension of time to apply to them to object to the COA decision.

The SSAT financial form we have been asked to fill in, Part E asks for age and income of all other people in the house. Do we legally need to provide this info to them? As my income and my 17 yo sons income cannot be used in an assessment, I don't see why they asking for it anyway. 
Frenzy,
          yes, if it is reasonably necessary for the purpose of the review. There is a penalty of up to 6 months imprisonment for refusing or complying with the request (although what I believe happens is that they exclude the party and then use the other parties evidence and the other available evidence). The question is then "is it reasonably necessary?", basically it would be, as to make a just and equitable decision requires that the parent's circumstances be taken into consideration as to whether or not they can afford it.

However, I do believe that the 17 year old can refuse to provide any information as nobody has a right to request that of them and that for you to provide that information would be a breach of that child's humane rights under article 16. I would suggest that you make a complaint, saying that you believe that SSAT are requesting information that you believe is a breach of you child's humane rights, to the Australian Human Rights Commission, to the Ombudsman, to your local Federal MP, to the Attorney General and to the minister responsible for the DHS (Brendan O'Connor).

It would appear that you should also seek protection from the domestic/family violence of the other parent's abusive harassment of yourself and your partner towards yourselves during the review. I believe that SSAT are obliged to offer such protection.


Child Support Registration and Collection act - Section 103K said
103K  Power to obtain information
   (1)   The SSAT Executive Director may, if it is reasonably necessary for the purposes of a review, by written notice given to the person, require a person:
   (a)   to give to the SSAT:
   (i)   within a reasonable period specified in the notice (being a period of not less than 7 days); and
   (ii)   in a reasonable manner specified in the notice;
      such information as the SSAT Executive Director requires; or
   (b)   to attend before the SSAT:
   (i)   at a reasonable time specified in the notice; and
   (ii)   at a reasonable place specified in the notice;
      and then and there answer questions; or
   ©   to produce to the SSAT:
   (i)   at a reasonable time specified in the notice; and
   (ii)   at a reasonable place specified in the notice;
      any documents in the custody or under the control of the person.
   (2)   A person commits an offence if:
   (a)   the SSAT Executive Director gives the person a notice under subsection (1); and
   (b)   the person refuses or fails to comply with the notice.
Penalty:   Imprisonment for 6 months.
   (3)   Subsection (2) does not apply if complying with the notice might tend to incriminate the person.
Note:   A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in subsection (3) (see subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code).
   (4)   A person who is required to attend under this section is allowed such expenses as are prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of subsection 120(2).
Thanks for that Mike T. I defiantly we won't be giving them any info on my son. My son has severe Autism and gets a part DSP pension so I don't think it 'reasonably necessary' that any info about him be asked for by SSAT. Due to the sever nature of his disability there is no way he could understand enough to comply anyway.

I will look into the protection from harassment aspect of it. His ex called me a drug dealer & prostitute (neither of which is true) in the COA, then demanded I help pay to support her kids.

If SSAT want my info they are going to have to convince me why it is 'reasonably necessary' it be provided by them to her, when she has already done the wrong thing by providing info on me (albeit untrue info) to the CSA, during the COA .
Frenzy,

The SSAT want to see if he is living off you. If so they will then see this as a resource he has access to and possibly increase his overall income or earning capacity.

I think it will be helpful if they know about your son as it will go in your favour if you show you have a legal duty to care for a child on DSP. That must be very hard on you.

Remember the evidence rules for the SSAT are very loose so be very careful with the information you provide them.

When providing verbal answers make sure they are accurate and cannot be misconstrued as the SSAT can easily misinterpret anything you say.

I say this as you cannot appeal a SSAT decison on a point of fact, only on a point of law. It is very unfair when you read their decision and you clearly see they have got the facts wrong in their decision and there is nothing you can do about it.

They will also do things like add up all expenses to check to see if they match your stated incomes and it is common to decide on an income purely based on declared expenses.

Good luck with it - the ex sounds like a real money hungry troll.
Thanks for that info Fairgo. We've never been though the SSAT process before. We've got a handle on the whole COA thing but this is new.

The ex is in a league of her own. The SCO that did our objection to the COA told her she was over stepping the line with her crazy demands and abusive reply's but she obviously didn't listen. My OH has a trial soon for property settlement with her,that's another nightmare.

We used medical evidence in the COA, CSA said legally they cannot go against that, so hopefully that applies to the SSAT too.
From my experience when it comes to payer's spousal income, this will be revealed to SSAT anyway by CSA when they send the ATO screen print out CSA uses to calculate cs. If payer has a spouse included in their tax return, this information is availalable to CSA and will be passed on to SSAT and consequently to the payee.

My understanding is that the person initiating the review via SSAT is obligated to fill out the SSAT form, however, the other party can opt out and does not have to participate in the review.  Hence, the onus is on the initiating party to provide new evidence that the payer has earning capacity despite medical certificate saying otherwise.
Is the medical certificate valid for any period of time? Does a new one have to be lodged, say, every 3 months to confirm that the medical condition has not subsided?



We are having trouble with the OP who has just lodged an estimate that is half of what they have been earning every year for the last 6 years. C$A wouldnt tell us the reason for the sudden drop in the OP's income or the sudden doubling of our C$A payments. This estimate was preceeded by repeated demands from us for more money in addition to the CS we pay in full, on time, each month.We politely declined to provide additional funds and decided to continue paying our mortgage instead.

We have a feeling that the OP is going to use a medical certificate to validate their reduced income. I understand your situation is genuine, but I am 99% sure that we are being had. We have found out that the OP has a doctor lined up that will provide sickness certificates for them on demand.


After the OP working full time for the last 6 years and being successfully treated for a medical condition (which they have had all their life), will C$A believe that suddenly they are incapacitated?

This is big $$ to us, and we dont want to be taken advantage of because the OP has conned C$A.
We also recently did a CoA on my husbands ex wife, her income dropped by over 75 percent, go and figure. I am just not sure if I want to take it further as I am sure CSA will reject it, just like all our other requests. I am not prepared to disclose my income or all my financials. I don't earn much and it will reduce by 25 percent as I am starting an internship, uni is expensive since I am not entiteled to HECs, so really, I can't even pay half the rent. In fact, due to my husbands children requiring 1 room, I don't think I should be obligied to pay more then a 1/4, since I am only using 1/2 a room. So how does SSAt and CSA go on this? If my husband is financially supporting me, since I study?
After the OP working full time for the last 6 years and being successfully treated for a medical condition (which they have had all their life), will C$A believe that suddenly they are incapacitated?
The CSA said in our COA that legally they cannot over ride any evidence recommendations provided by a Doctor.

My OH has reduced lung function from working in underground coal mines. The Doctor said on the certificate my OH can still work full time, just not in the coal industry anymore (hence why his income halved with the new job). He wouldn't pass a coal board medical anymore either.  The Doctor said his is a permanent condition. I guess for temporary conditions you could argue that the payee could return to work once it has run out. If she has a Doctor willing to keep redoing certificates then CSA will probably except them.

The medical certificate my OH Doctor filled in was the one from the CSA website.

 
So how does SSAt and CSA go on this? If my husband is financially supporting me, since I study?
I don't think CSA/SSAT give any allowance to the fact your OH has to support you, if you had kids he was supporting they wouldn't care about that either. When the payees income drops it's very hard to get them on a capacity to earn, when it's the payers income it's a different matter….:(
Yeah I gathered. Well it will change soon, therefore it would be great to see an update from the OP here regarding the medical certificate. Already moving to a cheaper place (smaller) to accommodate the impact the income drop of the ex has on our situation. Not expecting them to include pocket money for me, but he is liable for 75 percent of all the bills!
Smaller place brings me to another question I will post later…
BDouble said
After the OP working full time for the last 6 years and being successfully treated for a medical condition (which they have had all their life), will C$A believe that suddenly they are incapacitated?

Its very hard for any government employee to go against a doctor.  I do know for disputes internal to the public service eg disputes over sick leave etc - a Commonwealth Medical Officer (CMO) can override a doctor but evidently they are loath to do it and are pretty overworked anyway so sending cases to them is discouraged.  I had the case of one of my staff who knew the policy that if they had used some large amount of sick leave over a certain internal policy limit (if I recall correctly it had been agreed between the department and CMO's to keep their workload in check) and personnel thought it was a case worth pursuing, then they were willing to do it.  I kept personnel appraised of what was happening - I kept getting sick leave certificates for stress and the fact it started on the day he had been there 10 years which at that time meant sick leave at half pay was converted to full pay was just too coincidental.  It was all set he was going to see the CMO.  Guess what he did - the day before the internal policy time limit was reached he returned to work for half a day and said I am still stressed then left again.  I spoke to personnel and they said their hands were tied - he returned to work under the policy guidelines so avoided it.  

In my experience, unfortunately, it is easy to play a system to your benefit with a doctor even though most looking at it would say it really should be double checked.

I know we are being played and treated like an ATM. Thankfully the kids are teenagers and we are going to be out of the system in a few years.

After that we only have to see the OP at christenings and weddings etc. But on the other hand, what if we decide to work part time so we can finish our Uni degrees??? Are we likely to be penalised with CS based on a full time income?

I read case law on a bloke who was a sparky for a big company. They made him redundant and so he took the opportunity to start his own business. He made bugger all the first few years then started to get on his feet. He earnt half of what he used to but it wasnt his choice to be redundant.

Anyway his ex subjected him to "Deem & Destroy" (COA) and he was made to pay CS based on his previous wage prior to redundancy. I was gobsmacked.  :(
BDouble said
I know we are being played and treated like an ATM. Thankfully the kids are teenagers and we are going to be out of the system in a few years.

After that we only have to see the OP at christenings and weddings etc. But on the other hand, what if we decide to work part time so we can finish our Uni degrees??? Are we likely to be penalised with CS based on a full time income?

I read case law on a bloke who was a sparky for a big company. They made him redundant and so he took the opportunity to start his own business. He made bugger all the first few years then started to get on his feet. He earnt half of what he used to but it wasnt his choice to be redundant.

Anyway his ex subjected him to "Deem & Destroy" (COA) and he was made to pay CS based on his previous wage prior to redundancy. I was gobsmacked.  :(

Yea when you see things like that it makes you want to cry - it really does.  I personally believe all that sort of stuff should go before a judge who can compel second medical opinions and decide on the balance of evidence if being self employed was a ploy to get out of CSA.  
Oldboy said
I personally believe all that sort of stuff should go before a judge who can compel second medical opinions and decide on the balance of evidence if being self employed was a ploy to get out of CSA.

Oldboy, you ignore that such ploys are also used by parents to increase the CS paid by the liable parent and are thus showing a collection based mentality. This highlighting a flaw as Judges/Magistrates may well be influenced by the societal message, which from your statement you are helping to convey and or impress upon society (intentionally or not), that it is only or primarily liable parents who try to get out of meeting their financial responsibility toward their children.

A common "get out of having an income (aka maintain or increase the liable parent's liability)" card is through taxpayer funded fee-help further/mature age education. As an example, through OUA the fee-help limit of nearly $90,000 (more for some disciplines) can cover over 10 years of study at the required rate of 2 units (currently around $800 per unit) per quarter (the get out of working and still get income support card requirement). If you then earn less than the limit for compulsory claw-back you need never pay the loan back. As unlike with CS you are not chased into the grave for the claw-back.
We just got my OH's information from his case file from CSA for the SSAT hearing. Interesting to discover the outrageous lies she has been telling the CSA. We are not surprised at that though.

In relation to the medical certificate, CSA have quite clearly and repeatedly been telling the ex over the phone that ' CSA does not have the legal power to over ride any evidence provided by a qualified registered medical practitioner', nor do they have the power to compel second opinions. They can only act if they suspect the medical certificate is a forgery. Ex doesn't get it, hence her SSAT appeal.

One phone operator told the ex that they could call my OH's previous employer and ask if he had any sick days off work, or showed any relevant symptoms prior to obtaining the medical certificate.

In another phone call to the SCO, the SCO told the ex that they can only call employers to ascertain income info. If they asked about an employees health they would in-affect be asking the employer to breach privacy legislation. I have no idea who is right in this regard, but suspect the SCO is.

Both the phone operator and the SCO, stated that prior health information, even if obtained from an employer could not over ride any information provided by the registered medical practitioner. 

One of the print outs from the ex's phone records also shows, that the ex tried to tell the SCO that my OH's GP has a questionable history and is well known for writing out anything he is asked to lol. The SCO got stuck into her for making that kind of accusation.

Am hoping that SSAT does the usual and sides with the CSA. If they don't then I am hoping, making a decision that goes against medical advice could be considered a point of law issue:dry:
Well looks like it would be an unappealable point of fact but I say the the cards are stacked against the ex.
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