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Effect of Children on Rent Assistance, Maintenance Income, Bereavement and other means test provisions
Last amended: Children and rent assistance
Whether DVA or the Family Assistance Office pays rent assistance to a service pensioner or income support supplement recipient paying rent, is determined by:
- whether the pensioner has a Family Tax Benefit (FTB) child,
- the age of the child, and
- whether the child is a saved child.
DVA pensioners with an FTB child under 16 (other than a saved child) have their rent assistance paid by the Family Assistance Office, not as part of their DVA pension.
A New Tax System (Family Assistance Act) 1999 Schedule 1 Clauses 12 - 16
If the pensioner has children over the age of 16 who are on Youth Allowance, and no children under 16 year of age, DVA pays rent assistance as part of their service pension or income support supplement.
If the pensioner has a child over the age of 16 not receiving Youth Allowance, the child may still satisfy the meaning of FTB child, with rent assistance being paid by the Family Assistance Office. Centrelink has requested that such cases be subject to a manual clearance process.
Children and maintenance income
Maintenance received from a former partner to support a child of the former relationship is not assessed as ordinary income under the income test. It is, however, taken into account under the maintenance income test for Family Tax Benefit Part A, unless the pensioner or their partner is:
- permanently blind, and
- receiving age or disability support pension under the Social Security Act 1991, or service pension or income support supplement.
A New Tax System (Family Assistance Act) 1999 Schedule 1 Clauses 19B - 24
Child support payments received by a person are not assessed as income under the ordinary income test that applies to service pensions and child support payments paid by a person do not reduce that person's assessable income .
Children and bereavement
When a dependent child dies, the additional components of pension in respect of that child are payable to the pensioner during the bereavement period. These components are:
- additional remote area allowance; and
- if assessed under transitional rules, the additional amount of pension payable as a result of applying the additional income free area in respect of the deceased child.
Saved children and bereavement
In addition, if the deceased child was a saved child, the following components of the pension continue to be payable during the bereavement period:
- additional rent assistance paid because of the saved child,
- dependent child add-on, and
- guardian allowance.
The additional IARL applicable to a veteran service pensioner because of the dependent child additional income free area also continues during the bereavement period.
Children and payment of entitlements on death of person
Sections 123A to 123E (inclusive) provides for the payment arrangements in respect of a person who has died and the payment arrangements in the event of intestacy. A child in relation to a person who has died (in this definition called the deceased), means:
- a person who is a child of the deceased within the meaning of section 10;
- a person who was a natural child of the deceased; or
- someone who was a child of the deceased within the meaning of the Family Law Act 1975; or
- a person who was [glossary:adopted:] by the deceased or by the deceased and the deceased's partner or non-illness separated spouse.
These sections only operate where Subdivision C of Division 12A of Part IIIB “Death of Pensioner” do not apply.
Child definition under the Family Law Act 1975
The generally understood meaning of a child is the biological son or daughter of another person. References to a child of the person within the meaning of the Family Law Act 1975 (FLA) expands on this to include:
- a child born to a woman as the result of an artificial conception procedure while that woman was married to, or was a de facto partner of another person (whether of the same or opposite sex), as per section 60H of the FLA; and
- a child born under surrogacy arrangements as per section 60HB of the FLA.
Children and means test treatment of private companies and private trusts
For means test treatment of private companies and private trusts, references to a child of a person includes an [glossary:adopted child:], a [glossary:step-child:] or a foster-child of the person. It also includes someone who is a child of the person within the meaning of the Family Law Act 1975. In applying the associates rules and determining who are the relatives of an individual, 52ZP provides for the recognition of relationships traced to, or through the person on the basis that the person is the child of the other person as defined in that Division.
Special disability trusts
If the principal beneficiary is under 16 years of age, he or she must be a profoundly disabled child within the meaning of section 197 of the Social Security Act, which includes a child of a person within the meaning of the FLA. In relation to Trust property requirements, subsection 52ZZZWE(5) defines a child of a principal beneficiary (no matter how old the child is) as including a natural child, adopted child or step-child of the beneficiary and someone who is a child of the person within the meaning of the Family Law Act 1975.
FTB child has the same definition as given in section 22 and 22A of the Family Assistance Act (i.e. A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999).
For more information, see also 9.4.3/Effect of Children on Remote Area Allowance (RAA) CS Policy Library.
From 1 January 1998 responsibility for administration of most income support child related payments was transferred to Centrelink. However, saving provisions allow any person in receipt of service pension or income support supplement on 31 December 1997 who would be or is financially disadvantaged by the transfer to continue having their child related payments paid by DVA. Saved children are assessed under the rules contained in the VEA as at 31 December 1997.
Rent Assistance is an allowance, which may be paid to a service pensioner or income support supplement (ISS) recipient to assist in meeting the cost of rental accommodation.
To receive rent assistance, a pensioner must be paying rent (other than Government rent) for accommodation in Australia, and the amount paid must exceed a certain threshold.
The ordinary income of a person for a period means, as described in section 46 of VEA, the gross ordinary income from all sources for that period without any reduction, other than a reduction of business income.
Family Tax Benefit A is a payment made by the Family Assistance Office to assist families with the cost of raising children. It replaces Minimum Family Allowance, Family Allowance, Family Tax payment Part A and Family Tax Assistance Part A.
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.
Pensioners and ISS recipients who were in receipt of pension on or before 19 September 2009 are eligible to be assessed under transitional rules, if:
- transitional rules will result in a higher rate of pension, and
- they have never been assessed under the new rules.
The requirement that the pensioner has never been assessed under the new rules, does not arise where the pensioner's entitlement is re-determined from a date prior to 20 September 2009. Where new pension information is received and is effective prior to this date, the pensioner's right to receive the transitional rate is considered anew.
Once a pensioner or ISS recipient has been assessed under the new rules they cannot revert to transitional rules. There is one exception to this, to cover respite care changes to pensioners who return to live as a couple again.
Recipients assessed under transitional rules:
- have their payment calculated using the transitional maximum basic rate,
- have a taper rate of 40 cents in the dollar for the income test, and
- can still receive the additional income free area for children.
The income/assets reduction limit is the maximum amount by which a veteran's rate of service pension can be reduced and qualify for the Gold Card under subsection 85(5). When a veteran receives a reduced rate of service pension, the veteran may be eligible for treatment until such time as their 'reduction-for-ordinary-income', or their 'reduction-for-assets', exceeds the IARL.
The IARL is indexed twice a year, on 20 March and 20 September.