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This instruction is to advise staff of the Social Security Legislation Amendment Bill No 9 1990, dealing with the payment of Carers' Pensions.  The effective date of these new provisions is 21 January 1991.

2.Section 39 of the Social Security Act has been amended to allow payment of a carer's pension to someone who personally provides constant care and attention to an individual who is severely handicapped, where both the carer and person cared-for live in the same home or live in adjacent homes.  The person cared-for must be in receipt of a prescribed pension from the Department of Social Security (DSS) or the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA).

3.Under DSS legislation a "prescribed pension" is defined to include the following:

(a)an Aged, Invalid, Wives', Carers',Sole Parent's or Widow's Pension;

(b)a Unemployment or Sickness Benefit;

(c)a Widowed Persons or Sheltered Employment Allowance;

(d)a Rehabilitation Allowance; or

(e)a Service Pension, a Wife's Service Pension or a Carer's Service Pension under Part III of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

4.This DSS change in criteria was partly introduced to provide for the payment of DSS Carer's Pension to carers of wife service pensioners in need of constant care and attention.  A Carer's Pension under the VEA is only payable to a carer of a veteran service pensioner, not a carer of a wife service pensioner.

5.As a result of providing Carer's Pension to carers of any DVA beneficiary on a prescribed pension, legislative provision now exists for both DSS and DVA to pay the same pension.

6.In order to avoid both departments granting payment of Carer's Pension to the one carer, clearance should be obtained from DSS before granting any Carer's Service Pension.

7.Further, a National Instruction has been issued to DSS staff (excerpt below) instructing them to liaise with DVA when an application for carer's pension is made, if the cared-for person is in receipt of a service pension:

"Under the new provisions the carer of a disabled service pensioner or wife's service pensioner can qualify for carer's pension.  It will be necessary to ensure that the carer is in receipt of a current, income-tested pension, and that notification of any change in circumstances can be provided.  To prevent any breach of privacy it would be appropriate to obtain from the carer an authority to disclose to DVA any information needed to process their claim for carer's pension."

8.It will be important to note on the veteran's file any advice received from DSS regarding the granting of carer's pension being paid in respect of a DVA service pension recipient.  Details to be noted should include the name, address and DSS file number of the carer.

9.Current DSS Carer's Pension instructions have no guidelines in regard to the Privacy Act provisions for DVA pensioners.  Under the Privacy Act, disclosure of information DVA can provide to DSS on DVA beneficiary's is limited to whether or not a DVA pensioner is or is not in receipt of a service pension.  The provision of all other information affecting a carer's eligibility should be made by the carer directly to DSS.

10.It should also be noted that at present an Attendant Allowance ceases to be payable to a veteran when his/her carer receives a Carer's Pension under the VEA.  This restriction will not apply if the carer is granted under the DSS Act.

11.Another difference is that the requirement for the carer to live in the same house as the person cared for has been eased under the Social Security Act.  This requirement under the VEA is currently being investigated.

12.In the event of legislation in relation to Carer's pension under the VEA being amended, this Department may be required to locate cases of DSS pension grant to carers of veteran service pensioners.  In order to access these cases, Branch Offices are to maintain a record of all notifications from DSS of the grant of a Carer's Pension to the carer of a DVA pensioner.

13.The effect of these differences and other policy issues related to privacy and information exchange are being taken up with DSS and any variations in policy as a result of these discussions will be advised in a separate instruction.