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What is a bonus period
The first bonus period commences on the date of registration or, if the person was a non-accruing member at that time, on the first day after the non-accruing membership ceases. Bonus periods are normally continuous, but may be broken by a period/s of non-accruing membership. In this case a bonus period will be broken into two or more periods which cannot add to more than 365 days for a full-year period.
Accruing bonus period
The following periods can be a bonus period accruing to a person if the person has passed the work test for that period:
- the period of 365 days dating from the date the person first became an accruing member of the scheme. This is the first bonus period that can accrue under the VEA.
- any succeeding full year period of the person's accruing membership of the scheme which is specified in the person's claim for bonus,
- a part year period of accruing membership, provided that the period begins immediately after a full year bonus period and is the last bonus period accruing to the person. The period must also be specified in the person's claim for bonus.
Calculation of total bonus years accrued
Members must accrue a minimum of one full year bonus period. Their final bonus period can be a part year. A part year period cannot fall between two full year periods. If a person fails the work test, and does not become a non-accruing or post 70/75 member, they can no longer accrue bonus periods.
A person can accrue more than one bonus period but only if the bonus periods are:
- consecutive, or
- only separated by a period of non-accruing membership.
Example of calculation of total bonus years accrued
Joe is an accruing member of the pension bonus scheme who works two full year periods of 365 each and a part year period of 185 days for the final bonus period. The calculation of his bonus is then based on an overall qualifying period of 2.507 years ([365 x 2 + 185]/365). If Joe does not claim the bonus within 13 weeks of failing the work test at the end of the last part year bonus period he will not receive a bonus unless the discretion to allow an extended lodgment period is exercised.
Limit of five bonus years – last bonus period is full-year period
If a member passes the work test for more than five bonus periods and their last bonus period is a full-year period, only the most recent five full-year bonus periods will be used to calculate the amount of bonus payable.
Limit of five bonus years – last bonus period is a part-year period
If a member passes the work test for more than five bonus periods and their last bonus period is a part-year period, the 5 most recent full-year bonus periods are used to calculate the bonus.
Age limit to accrue bonus
Members can only accrue bonus periods up to the day before they become post 70/75 members.
Effect of non accruing membership
[glossary:Non-accruing:] members of the scheme do not have to meet the work test requirements. However, a person is not automatically a non-accruing member if they cannot meet the work test. Some events will trigger non-accruing periods during which the person will not accrue any bonus. If a person becomes a non-accruing member immediately after the end of their last bonus period, they can retain their eligibility for a bonus throughout the period they are non-accruing. Should they subsequently become an accruing member and again meet the work test, they can accrue further bonus periods which will be included in the calculation of their overall qualifying period.
Non-accruing membership status is given for a specified time when a person:
- triggers a disposal preclusion period,
- triggers a carer preclusion period by receiving either carer payment from Centrelink or ISS as a carer,
- is on extended, continuous sick leave for at least 4 weeks and not more than 26 weeks,
- is a non-working person registered for the scheme, who is waiting for their working partner to register, where the non-accruing status lasts until the partner registers,
- is a participant in the community Development Employment Program, or
- is in gaol.
Commission may, by Gazettal notice, declare that other kinds of members are non-accruing members.
A person passes the work test for a full year period if they or their partner work at least 960 hours (640 hours to be worked in Australia) during that full year period. Partners cannot work the hours between them.
A member of the pension bonus scheme has accruing membership once they have registered and are meeting the requirements of the work test.
Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.
Full year period means a continuous period of 365 days.
Part year period means a continuous period of less than 365 days.
A war widow/widower is generally a person who immediately before their partners death, was the partner of, or was legally married to:
- a veteran; or
- a person who was a member of the forces; and
- who is receiving:
- a war widow's/widower's pension; or
- a pension that is payable under the law of a foreign country that is, in the opinion of the Commission, similar to a war widow's/widower's pension.
Refer to 5E(1) of the VEA for the full definition.
An age pension is a means tested income support payment paid by Centrelink or DVA on behalf of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The majority of age pensions are paid through Centrelink. However, eligible veterans who have an accepted disability or receive a disability pension from DVA, but do not have qualifying service, may be paid their age pension by DVA. Their partner may also receive their age pension from DVA, if eligible.
A lodgment period is the period within which a claim for a pension bonus can be made. Different formulae apply depending on whether the person's last bonus period is a full year period, or a part-year period. There are exemptions to these formulae if the:
- person is an exempt partnered person at the end of the person's last bonus period,
- person's membership of the scheme becomes non-accruing immediately after the end of the person's last bonus period, or
- person is a post 70/75 member of the scheme and has a post 70/75 work period.
For a full definition see subsection 45UL of the VEA.
When a veteran with qualifying service or a war widow eligible to receive income support supplement reaches 70 years of age they become a Post 70 member of the Scheme. For other members, the age is 75 years. Once a person becomes a Post 70/75 member they can no longer accrue any more bonus periods, however, they can continue to work and defer pension as long as they continue to pass the work test.
According to section 5 of the MRCA, a member is
- a member of the Defence Force; or
- a cadet;
- a person to whom section 7A applies, or
- a declared member
who served on or after 1 July 2004