Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Released by the Department of Veterans' Affairs Mailing List 22 Oct 08

The Rudd Government will deliver a $4.8 billion down payment to Australia's four million veterans' affairs pensioners, other pensioners, carers and seniors. This payment provides them with immediate financial help in the lead up to comprehensive reform of the pension system. This decisive action is part of the Rudd Government's $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy to protect the Australian economy and support veterans, other pensioners and low income families during the global financial crisis.

From the fortnight beginning 8 December, payments will be made to:

- All Service Pensioners, including Partner Service Pensioners;
- All War Widows receiving Income Support Supplement;
- All Gold Card holders, including War Widows, receiving Seniors Concession Allowance who are above the veteran pension age - males 60, females 58.5;
- All Disability Pensioners at 100% or above who are over veteran pension age;
- All Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CHSC) holders;
- All Age Pensioners;
- All Centrelink Disability Support Pensioners;
- All Centrelink Carer Payment recipients; and
- Other Centrelink clients including wife and widows B pensioners, partner and bereavement allowance, and various income support clients over pension age.

Payments from the Department of Veterans' Affairs will be made on 18 December. Single pensioners will receive $1400, while couples will share $2100. More than 326,000 veterans' affairs pensioners will receive a total of some $407 million.

Around 4000 people receiving a benefit from the Veterans' Children Education Scheme will also receive a one-off payment of $1000. People who are receiving Carer Allowance will also receive $1000 for each eligible person they care for.

Payments will be made automatically to all eligible people, will be tax exempt and will not be included for income-testing purposes.

Why is this payment needed?

The Australian economy is sound, but we will not be immune from the global slow down and the real possibility of global recession. The global financial crisis is placing increasing pressure on budgets already stretched by the rising cost of living. It was clear to the Government that aged veteran pensioners and others in the veteran community who depend on income support needed financial relief. That is why the Prime Minister has taken decisive and early action to protect the economy and all Australians from this crisis.

These measures are designed to support veterans and their families on low incomes who are suffering in the current economic climate, while strengthening and stimulating Australia's economy. This action is ahead of comprehensive reform of the pension system. The Government is reforming the pension system to prepare Australia for the challenges of the future and we are committed to getting it right for the long term. Pension reform will be delivered in the 2009-10 Budget context.

Who is not eligible for the payment and why?

The Government acknowledges that all Australians are affected by the current economic climate. However, this payment is aimed at protecting those older and low income Australians who are the most vulnerable. As the payments are directed at older Australians and those on the lowest incomes, those whose income is above the limit to receive an income support pension such as the Service Pension, Income Support Supplement, Disability Support Pension or Carer Payment will not receive the payment. People in this situation have annual incomes above $40,501 as a single or $67,652 as a couple (not including their DVA disability compensation pension), or they have assets above $550,000 for a single home owner, $675,000 for a single non-home owner, $873,500 for a couple owning a home and $998,000 for a couple not owning a home.

For similar reasons, those over veteran pension age who do not have a Gold Card and whose income is above the limit to receive an income support pension or the CHSC are also excluded. People who have adjusted taxable annual incomes of less than $50,000 for singles and $80,000 for couples are eligible for the CHSC.

Ineligible people include approximately 2,200 TPIs under veteran pension age out of a total of more than 29,000 TPIs. These 2,200 are not included because they have income (above their TPI pension) or assets that exceeds the eligibility limits for income support.

In the same way, out of approximately 107,000 War Widows, 1260 under the veteran pension age of 58.5 are not eligible for the payment because their income or assets is above the limit for the Income Support Supplement ($40,124 pa income, or homeowner assets of $546,500, or non-home owner assets of $671,00).