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Effective Dates for Post-Bereavement Reviews
Last amended: 6 April 2010
Impact of the bereavement period on the surviving partner's assessment
Following the death of a pensioner, the surviving partner is paid a bereavement payment. Although amounts equal to fortnightly pension payments continue during the bereavement period, these payments are actually part of the already calculated bereavement payment. Therefore, no changes should be made to the surviving partner's pension payments during the bereavement period.
Validity of the section 54 notice issued prior to the bereavement
The validity of the section 54 notice depends on the information that was provided to the surviving pensioner prior to, and since, the bereavement. It is considered that a section 54 notice issued prior to the bereavement is still valid in respect of those events the survivor ought to have known would impact upon pension (eg change in residence), and where the pensioner should know that the Department does not have the information about the change in circumstances. However, the pensioner cannot be expected to tell us that their income or assets have exceeded new limits, or that their financial assets have exceeded the new deeming threshold, unless these have been advised.
Notifiable events occur following a bereavement and date of effect rules
If a valid section 54 notice applies, the notification period is 14 days (or 28 days if the pensioner lives overseas or receives remote area allowance) from the day after the end of the bereavement period. If a notifiable event occurs following a bereavement, the date of event is taken to be the day after the bereavement period ends (i.e. day 99 after the bereavement).
Impact of invalid or inadequate obligations notice following a bereavement
If the person provides information about a change in income and assets while they do not have a valid section 54 obligation notice (or the notice previously issued was inadequate to the circumstances), any reduction takes effect on the day of the determination or a later day.
Reduction when advised within notification period
If a pensioner advises of a change of circumstances during the bereavement period or within 14 (or 28) days after the bereavement period, any reduction will be from the day after the notification period, ie. the 15 — th (or 29 — th) day following the day after the bereavement period.
Lump sum amounts received during the bereavement period
Lump sum amounts received by a partnered pensioner during the bereavement period are held in the pension assessment for 12 months. The date of event for the commencement of this 12 month period is the day after the bereavement period ends (day 99). This date of event then determines the date of effect for the pension change, depending on whether or not notification of the change is received within the allowed notification period.
Reduction when advised outside notification period
If a pensioner advises of a change in circumstances which occurs during the bereavement period outside the 14 (or 28) day notification period from the day after the bereavement period, any reduction will take effect from the day after the bereavement period, ie. the date that is taken to be the event date.
Increases notified during the bereavement period
Any increase in pension due to a change of circumstances which occurs during the bereavement period and is notified during the bereavement period, should take effect from the day after the end of the bereavement period, the date taken to be the date of event.
Increases notified outside the bereavement period
If the notification is received after the bereavement period has ceased, any increase is from the date of notification.
End of bereavement advice letter
End of bereavement advice letters are issued to the surviving partner before and close to the end of the bereavement period. If the surviving partner continues to receive an income support pension, the advice letter will also provide a current copy of the 'You and Your Pension' booklet (exception: blinded assessments). This advice also provides a new section 54 notice outlining the pensioner's obligations to notify particular changes to their circumstances. Details of single asset value limits, income free areas and deeming thresholds should be included in this advice letter. Either the advice letter can specifically refer to the appropriate pages of 'You and Your Pension' or the information can be included separately. Providing this additional detail will enable the surviving partner to meet their obligations to notify the department of events or changes of circumstances that will impact on the payment of their pension at the single rate.
The receipt date of this advice letter may impact the date of effect.
Pensioner received advice letter after the bereavement period has ceased
If the pensioner received the end of bereavement advice after the end of the bereavement period and subsequently returns the completed Statement of Circumstances form as requested:
- The notification period is the 14 (or 28) day period starting on the day the pensioner receives the end of bereavement notification advice.
- The event date will be the date the pensioner is taken to have received the letter (allowing postal and departmental delays, this is taken to be 7 days after the stamped/written date on the form).
- The notification date will be the date the Department received the form.
- If the form is received within 14 (or 28) days from the event date, then any reduction takes effect from day after notification period (15th or 29th day).
- Any increase will take effect from the date of notification.
Deceased estate not yet finalised
A person's interest in a deceased estate is disregarded until it is received, or is able to be received. If the deceased partner's estate has not been finalised, assets left to the surviving partner must be disregarded until the estate is finalised and the assets are able to be distributed. Standard date of effect rules apply with the event date being the date that the estate was finalised.
Assessing assets related to deceased estates
Impact of bereavement period
Specific guidelines and policy on processing pensioner initiated reviews during the bereavement period are provided in the Policy Library under another topic.
A person's 'partner' is someone who is a member of a couple with that person.
A bereavement payment is an amount payable in respect of a deceased pensioner that represents a continuation of the pensioner's entitlement for a period following the death (the bereavement period).
The payment can be made as:
- a lump sum in advance, or
- a continuation of the deceased person's pension instalments, or
- a combination of both, or
- a portion of the rate of pension payable to the surviving member of a couple identified as a separate amount only for taxation purposes.
Bereavement period, as defined in section 53H of VEA, in relation to a person's death, means the period of 98 days starting on the day on which the person died.
A person may be regarded as permanently blind in both eyes where:
- there is a total loss of sight; or
- visual acuity after correction with suitable lenses is less than 6/60 in both eyes on the Snellen Scale; or
- where, in the written opinion of an ophthalmologist, the visual field deficits and/or combination of deficits results in a visual impairment which is the equivalent of a corrected visual acuity measure of less than 6/60 in both eyes.
The Commission Guideline CM5829: Determining 'permanently blind', 'no useful sight' and 'blinded in both eyes' may be instructive in making a blinded/blindness determination.