Is Our Pocket Money Fraud?

Is Our Pocket Money Fraud?


My husband was on Centrelink benefits for about two years. However every couple of weeks he would mow a few of our neighbours lawns, in return for “pocket-money” to help us out.

My son seems to think that if we do this, it is fraud and we have to let Centrelink know. We rely on this little bit of extra money. It’s cash-in-hand – surely this is ok?


Centrelink benefits, are governed by the Social Security Act. If you are receiving a Centrelink benefit you have a legal obligation to report all of your income to Centrelink.


What is included in income?


Income is defined under the Social Security Act to mean:

– An income amount earned, derived or received by a person for their own use or benefit; or

– A periodical payment by way of gift or allowance; or

– A periodical benefit by way of gift or allowance.


The definition of income under the Social Security Act is extremely wide and aimed at catching all types of monies or benefits received by a person.


Is cash in hand income?


Yes. The payments your husband received for mowing your neighbours yards would be classed as income under the Social Security Act. This is because it was an amount earned by your husband for his own use or benefit.


What payments are not considered income?


There are some payments you can receive while on Centrelink benefits that are not classed as income. These include:

– Centrelink payments;

– A financial return on any investments in a superannuation fund until you reach pension age or start to receive a pension from the fund;

– Emergency relief or assistance;

– First home owner payments;

– Payments received for a dependent child;

– Family Assistance payments;

– Insurance or compensation payments for loss or damage to buildings or personal effects.


Do we need to tell Centrelink?


You need to tell Centrelink about the cash in hand payments your husband has received over the last few years. It will assist your husband if he voluntarily reports the cash he has received as soon as he realised that it was classed as income under the Social Security Act.


Your husband may end up with a debt to Centrelink because he has been overpaid. However, Centrelink has a wide range of investigation powers to determine whether people are fraudulently receiving Centrelink benefits so reporting as soon as you become aware of an overpayment is important.


Should we get legal advice?


Yes, you should obtain legal advice in relation to the overpayment of Centrelink benefits. This will ensure that your husband is aware of his rights and obligations regarding his Centrelink payments as well as the actions available to Centrelink in respect of overpayment of Centrelink benefits.


If you are receiving a Centrelink benefit and are unsure what is classed as income under the Social Security Act you need to speak to Frank Boitano, an expert in Criminal Law. Call Barwick Boitano today on (02) 9630 0444 or email on for an appointment.

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