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11.3.1 Overview of Payments to Agents and Trustees
Last amended: 17 March 2010
Commission policy on recipient of pension payments
It is the Commission's policy that wherever possible a pension is to be paid directly to the pensioner. There are two categories of people besides the pensioner to whom the Commission may approve payment of pension. They are known as agents and trustees.
What is an agent?
An agent is someone the pensioner nominates to receive his or her pension payments. The agent operates under the instructions of the pensioner. Both the pensioner and agent are legally obliged to notify DVA of changes to the pensioner's circumstances.
Where pension payments are made via group payment, the most appropriate arrangement would be an agency arrangement, where each individual pensioner has an agency arrangement with the group payee.
What is a trustee?
A trustee, is a person appointed by the Commission, with or without the consent of the pensioner, to manage pension or allowance payments on behalf of the pensioner, if the pensioner is determined to be incapable of managing their own financial affairs.
Ownership of pension instalments not affected
Redirection of pension payments to an agent or a trustee of the pensioner is not intended to conflict with the inalienability (ownership of pension instalments) provisions. The payments are protected in the same manner as though the payments were made to the pensioner.
Other parties acting on behalf of pensioners
Persons acting on behalf of pensioners are not authorised to receive pension payments on behalf of the pensioner simply because they:
- hold power of attorney, or
- have been appointed as a guardian for a pensioner under a guardianship order.
There is no provision to redirect payments to a third party other than an agent or trustee of the pensioner.
Persons authorised by a pensioner to act on their behalf, such as those holding power of attorney are able to assist the pensioner to meet their obligations under the VEA by notifying DVA of changes on his or her behalf. However, the obligation to inform DVA of changes in circumstances that may affect his or her pension or allowance remains with the pensioner, and where appropriate, their agent.
For income support purposes, authorised third parties have the authority to:
- enquire about a person's pension, and
- assist a person to meet their obligations to the department.
Person's holding a valid financial power of attorney can also be accepted, on the VEA standard of reasonable satisfaction, as having the legal authority to:
- act as a signatory for the pensioner, including signing concession cards, and
- receive income support related mail on the pensioner's behalf.
If the power of attorney is signing a concession card on behalf of the card holder, they must identify that they have done so, next to their signature. The signature will therefore appear as ___PoA signature___(signed by power of attorney on behalf of (card holder's name)).
A record of power of attorney documentation must be held on the pensioner's file for the signature to be valid.
If there are concerns that a pensioner is so ill or infirm that they are unable to manage their own financial affairs, then trustee arrangements should be established.
According to section 58D of the VEA, an agent is a person who has been nominated by a pensioner and approved by the Commission to receive pension instalments on behalf of the pensioner. The agent must:
- pay the pension or allowance to the pensioner; or
- manage the pension or allowance in accordance with the pensioner's wishes.
Trustee has two meanings depending on the context, (i) and (ii).
(i) a person who looks after someone else's affairs
According to section 202 of the VEA, a trustee is a person appointed by the Commission to administer the financial affairs of a pensioner who may be incapable of managing their own affairs for reasons such as:
- ill health, or
These criteria include circumstances where a pensioner has a psychiatric disorder or a mental illness as a result of alcohol or drug addiction.
A trustee can be appointed, with or without the consent of the pensioner and once appointed, a trustee has full control of the pension payment.
(ii) a person responsible for administration of a trust