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This instruction is to advise of implementation of the Benefits Advices System - Phase 1.


2.Prior to implementation of this system a computer produced payment advice was sent to pensioners on the grant/variation of their pension and/or allowances.  In addition, a number of manually prepared advices were sent containing details of income and assets and a list of obligations and, where relevant, fringe benefit information.

3.The Brownlea Report, produced in mid 1988, identified a number of problems associated with these and other advices generated by this Department.  One of the many recommendations of the Report was that a `plain English' advice be produced for our pensioners.  The paragraphs for the advices to be produced by the Benefits Advices System - Phase 1 have been developed using the findings of this report as a basis and with the assistance of consultants, the State Branches of this Department and Professor Brownlea.


4.The system has been designed to produce `case specific' advices.  In other words, the only information that will be contained in a pensioner's advice will be information relevant to that person's pension or benefits.  The advices will include information such as payment details, fringe benefits eligibility (including recall and issue of medical treatment cards), income and assets details, obligations and, where relevant, taxation information.

5.Obligations will also be `case specific'.  For example, if a service pensioner is receiving rent assistance, rent assistance obligations will be included in the advice.  Disability pensioners will also receive some `general obligations'.

6.Where service pension was/is in payment a General Information Sheet will also be included.  This contains information such as the maximum rates payable, the basic income/assets limits for maximum rate service pension and fringe benefits, telephone rental concession eligibility and rent assistance information.

7.Automatic advices will now also be produced for cancellations and interstate transfers.

8.The paragraphs will be the same for every State, with the exception of the rail travel paragraph included with fringe benefits.  As there is no rail concession available in Tasmania and as conditions differed for other States, State specific paragraphs have been created.


9.A `library' of approximately 200 paragraphs is stored on the database and the appropriate paragraphs are selected (based on the individual's circumstances) to form the advice.

10.Maintenance of the paragraphs will be the responsibility of the Benefits Income Support Branch.  Generally, if changes are required as a result of rate changes or changes in policy, paragraphs will be updated and details of the new information to be included in advices will be forwarded to each Branch Office.  However, if a Branch letterhead or Deputy Commissioner's signature needs to be updated, then the Branch should request Income Support to arrange for the change to be made.  Suggestions for changes/additions to paragraphs should be directed to the Director, PD&I Section, Income Support Branch, Central Office.

11.Each State has been given a copy of the training manual for the Benefits Advices System - Phase 1 which contains a copy of the advice paragraphs, details o9f paragraph selection criteria and advice selection and procedures.  This manual should be maintained in each Branch, as it is the only record of what detail is included in a particular type of advice.


12.Changes to PIPS have been minimal with changes required only for a new screen (PP.DS - DSS Clearance) and an amended screen (PP.AD - Advices).  Copies of these screens are at Attachments A and B.

PP.DS - DSS Clearance

.This screen must be accessed and updated for SP new claims, or where defaults are to be overwritten.  The health card suppression facility is also contained on this screen.

PP.DA - Advices

.This screen need onlyt be accessed if an advice type is to be selected by the examiner or where other fields are to be updated.

.The `reason for advice' field has been enlarged and will accept up to 210 characters.  Data entered will not be converted to upper case as is the case with our current advices screen.  Examiners should therefore enter data in upper and lower case.

.The copy facility will be still available, ie, if the reason for the spouse is the same as the veteran then ditto (") can be entered on the first line of the spouse reason.

.A "contact" and "telephone" field has been included on the advices screen and this should be completed.

.A `suppress automatic advice' facility is available and is used by entering a `Y' in the VET or SPS field.

.A `suppress income/asset list' facility is also available.  If an income/asset list is not required then a `Y' should be entered in the appropriate field.

13.Unless the examiner has selected a relevant advice type on PP.AD, the submission facility on PIPS will select that appropriate advice(s) for the action that is being processed.  The examiner will need to select the advice type on PP.AD where the system is unable to identify sufficiently the type of action being processed, eg, submission cannot determine whether a new grant or a transfer-in is being processed.  Details of the types of cases where examiner selection is necessary are covered in Part 3 of the Training Manual.


14.Automatic assessments which are special register methods of payment will not generally have advices produced automatically.  However, if the pensioner is resident in Papua New Guinea and the method of payment is special register S,T & U then an advice will be produced automatically.  Because if is not relevant, fringe benefits information will not be included.


15.If the manual rates screen (PP.MR) has been completed the advice will not include the income and assets list or any obligations.  (Refer to Part 1 of the Training Manual for further information).


16.Manual payments include payments such as Education Allowance, AMS Pension and Overseas Pension.  Advices to be produced for these types of cases will still only include payment information.  The words in these advices have been upgraded to reflect the word changes in the new advices.


17.Manual transactions are completed to vary manual payments for automatic assessments, eg, to grant clothing allowance when disability pension is in payment.  These advices include payment information and, if disability pension only is in payment, then the General Obligations and Taxation Advice will also be included.


18.The advices will be produced on a duplex laser printer at the NCC and sent to Branches the next working day through job stream.  There will be no copies produced however a retrieval facility is available.  This facility will duplicate the actual advice sent to a pensioner.  Procedures for requesting copies of an advice will be forwarded separately.  Samples of advices are at Attachments C & D.


19.Because pensioners will find the new advices very different to the old style advices, it has been decided to undertake some publicity.  As a result, a News Release has been issued by the Minister.  A copy of this bulletin is at Attachment E.  Details included in the News Release will also be included with the next edition of the Age Pension News and with the next issue of Vetnews.  In addition, a brochure will be available shortly which explains the reasons behind the new format.  Supplies will be forwarded to each Branch and to the main ex-service organisations as soon as they are available.  During the first few months of the new advices system, Branch Offices should insert these brochures with the advices when they are being despatched.


20.Any enquiries regarding the Benefits Advices System - Phase 1 should be directed to the Senior Project Officer, Clare McCorry on telephone (07) 223 8688.