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Member of a Couple Rate

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Last amended: 1 July 2009

Calculation of rate of pension for a member of a couple

The rate of service pension and income support supplement for a member of a couple, also called the partnered rate, is limited to the partnered items in the tables in the Rate Calculator in Schedule 6 in the VEA. This applies even where only one member is eligible for, or chooses to, receive the pension. The calculation of the pension rate is based on the combined income of the couple and the partnered rate applies, except for:    

Member of an illness separated or respite care couple

Under the Rate Calculator in Schedule 6 of the VEA, there are provisions which allow a couple to be assessed under more beneficial rules which enable a higher threshold and a higher base rate of pension to be applied. Those specified circumstances are:

Note: When the provisions are applied, it is important to be aware that the relationship status remains member of a couple, even though a not a member of a couple rate is being paid. The combined income and assets and personal circumstances are taken into account when calculating the overall level of payment or benefit.

Rate for an illness separated couple

The rate of service pension or income support supplement for an illness separated couple is calculated using the member of an illness separated couple items in the tables in the Rate Calculator in Schedule 6 in the VEA. The rate of payment is calculated using a combination of the single and partnered rate calculation methods under the following principles:

  • the rate of pension is calculated using 50% of the combined income and assets of the couple.
  • the maximum rate of payment for each member of the couple is calculated as if the person was single (item 1 in tables B, C and D of the rate calculator).
  • the income free area is that for a member of a couple (items 2 or 3 of table E).
  • the assets free area is that for a member of a couple (item 2 of table F).

Note: The member of an illness separated couple rate is equal to the not a member of a couple rate and the partnered income and assets tests apply.

Rate for a respite care couple

The rate of service pension or income support supplement for a respite care couple is calculated using the member of a respite care couple items in the tables in the Rate Calculator in Schedule 6 in the VEA.

Note: the member of an respite care couple rate is equal to the not a member of a couple rate and the partnered income test and partnered assets test apply.

Regarding a member of a couple as not a member of a couple

In limited and unusual circumstances, not including illness separated couples and respite care couples, there is a provision to allow a person who is a member of a couple to be regarded as not a member of a couple. When a written determination is made under section 5R(3) VEA a higher rate of income support payment is able to be paid to one member of the couple, where unusual circumstances exist and the other partner has no means of support. The combined financial and personal circumstances are considered by the delegate before making a decision under this provision. However, after the determination is made, the person is regarded as being not a member of a couple when calculating the rate of income support payment.

Calculation of rate of pension after subsection 5R(3) determination

When calculating the rate of pension after a determination under section 5R(3) VEA, the person must be treated as not a member of a couple for all purposes of the VEA. The pension assessment is therefore based on the higher, not a member of a couple items in the tables in the Rate Calculator in Schedule 6 in the VEA. When calculating pension entitlement where subsection 5R(3) applies, the income and assets of the person's partner are not included in the person's assessment. The lower not a member of a couple income and assets tests free area thresholds also apply in calculating the rate.

Obligations to notify of a change which a subsection 5R(3) determination is in force

No obligations in respect of section 54 VEA apply to the partner of a person paid under the provision of section 5R(3). However, the person who is being paid under this provision is obliged under section 54 to advise of changes in circumstances in respect of their unpaid partner, such as where their partner:    

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Policy Library – Recipient Obligations

Section 12.1.1

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  • starts to receive a payment or benefit from Centrelink
  • has a change in residency status
  • commences paid employment
  • returns from overseas
  • has a favourable change in income and assets
Revising application of section 5R(3) when circumstances change

When the circumstances of one or both members of a couplechange, the decision to continue to regard a person as not a member of a couple is reviewed. A determination is made about whether the not a member of a couple or the partnered rate for one or both of the members is reasonable.


A service pension is an income support payment broadly equivalent to the social security age and disability support pensions. It may be paid once a veteran or partner has reached the nominated age or is incapacitated for work.

ISS is an income support payment that may be paid to eligible war widows and widowers under the VEA and persons receiving wholly dependent partners' compensation under the MRCA, and who satisfy the means tests. It is an indexed rate, increased twice-yearly in March and September in line with changes to the cost of living and/or average wages. Income Support Supplement (ISS) legislation commenced on 20 March 1995. It is a payment created to replace the ceiling rate income support age, carer, wife and disability support pensions, paid to war widows/widowers by Centrelink.

 

 

According to Section 5E(2) of the VEA a person is a member of a couple, if they are:

  • legally married to another person and is not living separately and apart from the other person on a permanent basis; or
  • living in a prescribed registered relationship with the other person (whether of the same sex or a different sex) and is not living separately and apart from that other person on a permanent basis; or
  • all of the following conditions are met:
  • living with another person, whether of the same sex or a different sex;
  • not legally married to that person;
  • in a de facto relationship with that person; and
  • not in a prohibited relationship

The term “partnered” is also commonly used.

Most income support pensions and many of the associated allowances are paid at different rates depending on whether the recipient is partnered or single.  Typically, the partnered rate is lower than the single rate to take account of the economies associated with two persons pooling their resources.

 

 

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

An illness separated couple is a couple who cannot share a home because of the illness or infirmity of one or both partners. Illness separated couples may be paid the higher single rate of pension. Refer to subsection 5R(5) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

A respite care couple is a couple who Commission has determined are separated because one person has entered respite care in a nursing home or hostel to give the other member of the couple a temporary break from caring for that person.

Members of a respite care couple are entitled to be paid the single rate of pension.

Refer to subsection 5R(6) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

According to Section 179 of the VEA, the Commission is a body corporate under the name of Repatriation Commission.

 

 

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

An illness separated couple is a couple who cannot share a home because of the illness or infirmity of one or both partners. Illness separated couples may be paid the higher single rate of pension. Refer to subsection 5R(5) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

Respite care is care provided for one member of a couple in a nursing home or hostel on a temporary basis so that their partner can have a break from providing care.  For care to be recognised as respite care under the VEA, it must be Government subsidised care provided under the Aged Care Act 1997.

A pensioner receiving such care, and their partner (a respite care couple), are entitled to be paid the single rate of pension.

For the full definition of respite care, refer to subsection 5NC(8) of the VEA.

 

 

According to Section 5E(2) of the VEA a person is a member of a couple, if they are:

  • legally married to another person and is not living separately and apart from the other person on a permanent basis; or
  • living in a prescribed registered relationship with the other person (whether of the same sex or a different sex) and is not living separately and apart from that other person on a permanent basis; or
  • all of the following conditions are met:
  • living with another person, whether of the same sex or a different sex;
  • not legally married to that person;
  • in a de facto relationship with that person; and
  • not in a prohibited relationship

The term “partnered” is also commonly used.

Most income support pensions and many of the associated allowances are paid at different rates depending on whether the recipient is a member of a couple or not a member of a couple. Typically, the 'not a member of a couple' rate is higher than the 'member of a couple' rate since people living on their own do not benefit from the economies of pooling their resources and sharing their expenditures with another person.

A service pension is an income support payment broadly equivalent to the social security age and disability support pensions. It may be paid once a veteran or partner has reached the nominated age or is incapacitated for work.

ISS is an income support payment that may be paid to eligible war widows and widowers under the VEA and persons receiving wholly dependent partners' compensation under the MRCA, and who satisfy the means tests. It is an indexed rate, increased twice-yearly in March and September in line with changes to the cost of living and/or average wages. Income Support Supplement (ISS) legislation commenced on 20 March 1995. It is a payment created to replace the ceiling rate income support age, carer, wife and disability support pensions, paid to war widows/widowers by Centrelink.

 

 

An illness separated couple is a couple who cannot share a home because of the illness or infirmity of one or both partners. Illness separated couples may be paid the higher single rate of pension. Refer to subsection 5R(5) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

Most income support pensions and many of the associated allowances are paid at different rates depending on whether the recipient is a member of a couple or not a member of a couple. Typically, the 'not a member of a couple' rate is higher than the 'member of a couple' rate since people living on their own do not benefit from the economies of pooling their resources and sharing their expenditures with another person.

A service pension is an income support payment broadly equivalent to the social security age and disability support pensions. It may be paid once a veteran or partner has reached the nominated age or is incapacitated for work.

ISS is an income support payment that may be paid to eligible war widows and widowers under the VEA and persons receiving wholly dependent partners' compensation under the MRCA, and who satisfy the means tests. It is an indexed rate, increased twice-yearly in March and September in line with changes to the cost of living and/or average wages. Income Support Supplement (ISS) legislation commenced on 20 March 1995. It is a payment created to replace the ceiling rate income support age, carer, wife and disability support pensions, paid to war widows/widowers by Centrelink.

 

 

A respite care couple is a couple who Commission has determined are separated because one person has entered respite care in a nursing home or hostel to give the other member of the couple a temporary break from caring for that person.

Members of a respite care couple are entitled to be paid the single rate of pension.

Refer to subsection 5R(6) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

A respite care couple is a couple who Commission has determined are separated because one person has entered respite care in a nursing home or hostel to give the other member of the couple a temporary break from caring for that person.

Members of a respite care couple are entitled to be paid the single rate of pension.

Refer to subsection 5R(6) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

A respite care couple is a couple who Commission has determined are separated because one person has entered respite care in a nursing home or hostel to give the other member of the couple a temporary break from caring for that person.

Members of a respite care couple are entitled to be paid the single rate of pension.

Refer to subsection 5R(6) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

Most income support pensions and many of the associated allowances are paid at different rates depending on whether the recipient is a member of a couple or not a member of a couple. Typically, the 'not a member of a couple' rate is higher than the 'member of a couple' rate since people living on their own do not benefit from the economies of pooling their resources and sharing their expenditures with another person.

One element of the means test for income support pensions whereby the rate of pension payable to a pensioner reduces progressively as their income increases above a certain threshold known as the income free area (IFA).

 

 

One element of the means test for income support pensions whereby the rate of pension payable to a pensioner reduces progressively as their assets increase above a certain threshold known as the assets value limit (AVL).

An illness separated couple is a couple who cannot share a home because of the illness or infirmity of one or both partners. Illness separated couples may be paid the higher single rate of pension. Refer to subsection 5R(5) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

A respite care couple is a couple who Commission has determined are separated because one person has entered respite care in a nursing home or hostel to give the other member of the couple a temporary break from caring for that person.

Members of a respite care couple are entitled to be paid the single rate of pension.

Refer to subsection 5R(6) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

The term not a member of a couple covers all persons who are not covered by the definitions of member of a couple.

 

 

A Delegate of the Commission  is a decision-maker who has been delegated authority to exercise the Commission's powers for the administration of pensions under theVEA.

 

 

The term not a member of a couple covers all persons who are not covered by the definitions of member of a couple.

 

 

The DVA program area which administers income support payment claims for means tested pensions or benefits is called income support.

 

 

The term not a member of a couple covers all persons who are not covered by the definitions of member of a couple.

 

 

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

A person's 'partner' is someone who is a member of a couple with that person.

A person's 'partner' is someone who is a member of a couple with that person.

Centrelink is a Government service delivery agency responsible for delivering a range of Commonwealth Government services (including social security pensions and allowances) to the Australian community through a network of more than 400 Centrelink offices.

The term not a member of a couple covers all persons who are not covered by the definitions of member of a couple.

 

 

Most income support pensions and many of the associated allowances are paid at different rates depending on whether the recipient is partnered or single.  Typically, the partnered rate is lower than the single rate to take account of the economies associated with two persons pooling their resources.