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B25/1992 TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE
DATE OF ISSUE: 29 JUNE 1992
Introduction — 1-2
Why TA Was Introduced — 3
Problems Anticipated with TA — 4-5
Date of Introduction — 6
Eligibility — 7-8
Telephone Subscriber — 9-11
Rates of Payment — 12
Indexation — 13
Discrete Amount — 14
Quarantining — 15
Instalments — 16-17
Systems Rules For Payment — 18
Payment of an Instalment — 19
On-Line Record of TA Payment — 20
Arrears — 21-23
Eligibility After Cut-off — 24-26
Limitations Cases — 27
Suspensions Cases — 28-29
Cases Awaiting Determination or Interface — 30
Transfers — 31-35
Overseas Cases — 36
Household Income Limit Test — 37
World War 1 Veterans / Mariners — 38
DSS Legislation - Partners of World War 1 Veterans /
Mariners — 39
Bereavement Payments — 40
World War 1 Veterans Without PMF Record — 41
Fringe Benefits Saved But No PMF Record — 42
Dual Entitlement — 43-44
Statistics — 45
Reports — 46
Cross-Reference Procedures — 47-49
Expiry Dates For Vouchers — 50-51
Recording Pensioner Telephone Numbers — 52-55
Unlisted Numbers — 56
Telephone Subscriber Indicators — 57-60
On-Line TA Facilities — 61-64
TSI Conversion Exercise — 65-69
Appropriation — 70
Death Processing — 71
Contact Officers — 72
1.The Telephone Rental Concession (TRC) scheme provides a rebate to eligible pensioners, except World War 1 veterans, of about 35 percent of the annual telephone rental charge. Since 1 January 1992 World War 1 veterans have received a rebate equivalent to the whole of the annual telephone rental charge.
2.Since 1989 the TRC scheme has operated as a voucher scheme. Eligible pensioners have been issued each year with four vouchers, one to be submitted each time they paid a telephone account. In the 1991 Budget the Government announced that the voucher scheme would be replaced by a Telephone Allowance (TA) which would be paid quarterly into the pensioner's nominated account. Because TA was being introduced in July 1992, eligible pensioners were issued in December 1991 with only two vouchers.
WHY TA WAS INTRODUCED
3.TA was introduced to overcome aspects of the voucher scheme which were unsatisfactory to pensioners and to produce efficiencies within administering departments. Some pensioner concerns with the voucher scheme were:
a.inconvenience caused by lost vouchers and the need to obtain replacements; and
b.inability to use Telecom's "pay by phone" facility.
ANTICIPATED PROBLEMS WITH TA
4.Since the TA scheme was announced there have been a number of complaints about TA by pensioner groups. Most complaints focus on the fact that TA will be paid as a cash amount and that payment may not co-incide with the billing cycle. In these circumstances some pensioners fear the TA amount may be swallowed up in general housekeeping.
5.When pensioners were advised of the introduction of TA in the December 1991 bulk mailout, they were told of Telecom's (now AOTC) Budget Payment Card. This card allows subscribers to deposit money towards their next account. Cards may be obtained from a subscriber's local AOTC Business Office either by calling in person or by telephoning. It is to be expected that AOTC's competitors would introduce a similar facility. Branch office staff who receive similar complaints from pensioners may wish to explain the advantages of the budget card facility. To assist branch office staff copies of AOTC 's Budget Payment Card brochures will be sent to branch offices.
DATE OF INTRODUCTION
6.Telephone Allowance will be introduced with effect from 1 July 1992. The first pay-day on which TA will be paid will be 9 July 1992.
7.To receive TA on a TA pay-day a person must be eligible and must be a telephone subscriber. The following categories of persons are eligible for TA:
a.a service pensioner eligible for fringe benefits under section 53A of the VEA (this includes permanently blinded pensioners);
b.a person whose eligibility for fringe benefits has been saved under Section 17 of the Veterans' Entitlements (Rewrite) Transition Act 1991;
c.a war widow/er eligible for a pension under Subsection 30(1) of the VEA or a war widow under Subsection 18(2) of the SWP&AA;
d.a special rate or temporary special rate disability pensioner eligible under Sections 24 or 25 of the VEA or Section 22A of the SWP&AA;
e.a disability pensioner eligible for an increased amount under Subsection 27(1) (Items 1 to 8 ) of the VEA or Section 22A of the SWP&AA, both of which relate to double amputees;
f.a disability pensioner eligible for extreme disablement adjustment under Subsection 22(4) of the VEA or for a rate of pension payable under Subsection 18(4AA) of the SWP&AA; or
g.an Australian, Commonwealth, or Allied World War 1 veteran, or an Australian World War 1 Mariner. Eligibility of World War 1 veterans is dealt with in DIs B33/89 and B03/90.
8.Disability pensioners who receive extreme disablement adjustment, temporary special rate, or a rate increased by an Item 1-8 amount were not eligible for the TRC under the voucher scheme. Eligibility for these categories of disability pensioner will commence from 1 July 1992.
9.A person is considered to be a telephone subscriber if:
a.the person is an Australian resident; and
b.the person has a telephone connected where he or she is living in Australia; and
c.the service is connected:
(1)if the person is not a member of a couple, in his or her name; or
(2) if the person is a member of a couple, in the name of either partner; or
(3)if the person has a non-illness separated spouse, in his or her name, or in the name of the person's spouse.
10.This definition of telephone subscriber provides more flexibility than existed under the voucher scheme. For example, it provides for payment of TA to either or both members of an eligible couple where one partner remains in the matrimonial home and the other is living in a nursing home. The partner in the nursing home would be considered to be a telephone subscriber if there was a direct line service to his or her room or if there was a line provided through the home's PABX facility, provided he or she paid rent for the line. The definition allows for payment of TA where the subscriber lives in a mobile home or a caravan park, but not for pensioners with a mobile telephone.
11.Normally examiners should accept a pensioner's statement that he or she is a telephone subscriber.
RATES OF PAYMENT
12.There will be three commencing annual rates of payment, as follows:
a.The World War 1 rate will be equal to the annual telephone rental charge set by the service provider. The rate for 1992 is $155-40. Rates in subsequent years will be set in response to changes in the telephone rental charge.
b.The Base Rate which will be set initially at $51-80.
c.Half the Base Rate which will be set initially at $25-90.
13.The Base Rate and Half the Base Rate of TA will be indexed for the September instalment each year based on movements in the Consumer Price Index in the 12 months ending the previous June quarter. The rounding base for the indexation of TA will be 80 cents per year. The amount to be used as the base for the September 1992 indexation will be $51-80. The resulting amount will be halved for Half the Base Rate.
14.The TA amount will be shown as a discrete amount on a person's payment advice immediately after the payment details paragraph.
15.To preserve its value TA has been quarantined from Commonwealth income related charges, such as taxation and nursing home fees, and from state public housing rents. For special register cases a separate cheque and schedule for TA is to be sent to the institution. The Department of Health, Housing and Community Services is preparing a circular detailing quarantining arrangements for despatch to all nursing homes. A copy of this circular will be provided in due course to branch offices.
16.TA will be paid in quarterly instalments on the first pension pay-day falling on or after 1 January, 20 March, 1 July and 20 September each year.
17.For pay-day 9 July 1992 instalments will be set at the following rates:
a.the World War 1 Rate $38-85 which will be rounded up to $39-00;
b.the Base Rate $12-95 which will be rounded up to $13-00; and
c.Half the Base Rate $6.475 which will be rounded up to $6-50.
Pensioners will receive a quarterly payment advice to inform them of each TA payment. Introduction of quarterly payment advices will be described in DI B26/92.
SYSTEM RULES FOR PAYMENT
18.The rate of TA payable to a person on any TA pay-day will be determined automatically by the system on the following basis:
a.If the person is a World War 1 veteran / mariner he or she will be paid at the World War 1 rate.
b.If the person is not a member of a couple he or she would be paid at the Base Rate.
c.If the person is partnered but not on service pension with fringe benefits (irrespective of his or her partner's situation) he or she would be paid at the Base Rate. This category covers entitled disability pensioners and war widows.
d.If the person is a partnered service pensioner with fringe benefits and the person's partner ( other than the partner of a World War 1 veteran / mariner) is eligible for TA, and the couple are living in the same home, he or she would be paid at Half the Base Rate. The partner of a World War 1 veteran / mariner living in the same home as the veteran is not paid TA because the veteran's payment covers the cost of the whole of the telephone rental charge.
e.If the person is a partnered service pensioner with fringe benefits, but is not living with his or her partner in the matrimonial home, then he or she would be paid at the Base Rate provided he or she was a telephone subscriber. Likewise the partner still living in the matrimonial home would be paid at the base rate. This category covers illness-separated couples and couples separated for reasons other than marital breakdown. The partner of a World War 1 veteran / mariner not living in the same home with the veteran would be eligible for payment of TA at the base rate provided he or she was a telephone subscriber.
PAYMENT OF AN INSTALMENT
19. A person will be paid TA on a particular TA pay-day only if he or she is eligible on that day and is a telephone subscriber on that day. Where a person becomes eligible between TA pay-days he or she will be paid the full instalment on the next TA pay-day. There will be no pro-rata payments to cover the period up to that next TA pay-day. All persons except World War 1 veterans with nil pension and persons with nil pension but fringe benefits saved must be in payment (that is they must have a PMF record) in order to receive TA.
ON-LINE RECORD OF TA PAYMENT
20 — A TA payment will be shown on the PMF as a one time payment only for the pay-day on which the TA payment is made; after that TA pay-day has passed the record will not appear on the PMF. There will be no TA segment on the PMF. The TA Inquiry Facility (screen PP.TI see paragraph 61) should be used to check payment details.
21.Where a person's eligibility for TA has been backdated, and the person can satisfy an examiner that he or she was a telephone subscriber on any TA pay-day after the date of eligibility, then the person will be eligible for the payment of arrears for that TA pay-day. Normally examiners should accept a pensioner's statement that he or she was a telephone subscriber for the period claimed. Arrears for TA can only be paid back to and including the first TA pay-day on 9 July 1992.
22.To pay arrears examiners will enter on the calculator facility (screen PP.TC - see paragraph 62) the date/s for which arrears are to be paid and the rate at which payment is to be made (eg base rate). The facility will then calculate the amount of arrears payable utilising a stored history of TA rates. Initially arrears will be paid manually via keyfast or by cheque. Records of manual payments are to be maintained under branch office arrangements as they will not be able to be entered on the inquiry facility when this comes on line.
23.Later, arrears will be paid through an on-line TA arrears/ manual payments screen (screen PP.TA - see paragraph 63). The amount payable will be entered and a transaction will be generated automatically to pay the arrears via the fortnightly reassessment 'run'. These payments will be recorded automatically on the TA inquiry facility (screen PP.TI - see paragraph 61).
ELIGIBILITY AFTER CUT-OFF
24.Where a person becomes eligible for TA after the cut-off for a TA pay-day but before or on the pay-day itself, TA will be payable in respect of that pay-day. Payment is to be arranged by branch offices in accordance with procedures for arrears.
25.For Pay-day 9 July 1992, cases which are processed from 22 June onwards but on or before 9 July will need to be paid TA manually.
26.Those cases processed between 22 June and 30 June (both dates inclusive) will be entitled to one TRC voucher in addition to their 9 July payment provided their eligibility commences on or before 30 June 1992.
27.TA is payable to all eligible pensioners who are limitation cases. Payments will be made automatically.
28.TA is payable automatically only for the following suspension cases:
a.code 7220 — Attendant Allowance suspension; or
b.code 7289 — Part 1V (previously Div 10) NSW only; or
c.code 7294 — Failure to return Student Review form.
Payment of TA will be made automatically in these cases because these types of suspension will not affect eligibility for TA.
29.All other suspension cases will be reported for manual action to be taken by branch offices.
CASES AWAITING DETERMINATION OR INTERFACE
30.Where cases are awaiting determination or interface when the automatic 'run' to pay TA is to occur, these cases will be paid TA. There is no requirement to remove cases from frozen status prior to the TA 'run' occurring. No action is to be taken if TA is paid incorrectly for a case in submission. If a case in submission which should have been paid is not paid automatically, then that case will need to be paid manually by branch office staff.
31.Where an interstate transfer is being processed duplication of payment must be avoided.
32.TA is to be paid by the out-going state provided there is a PMF record for the person in the out-going branch.
33.Where the PMF record has been transferred to the in-coming branch then the in-coming branch is to pay TA.
34.Should an eligible person not be paid TA in the course of an interstate transfer then the in-coming branch is to arrange a manual payment. In particular a disability pensioner transferring interstate may not receive an automatic payment where his or her eligibility has been set to 'OFF' in the out-going state. The transfer-in procedure must always include a check of the TA Inquiry screen for both the out-going and in-coming states; a TA arrears payment is to be made if the veteran did not receive the automatic TA payment in the course of the transfer action.
35.Some World War 1 veterans may not be in payment and will not have a PMF record. Accordingly the program to pay TA will not search for a PMF record for any World War 1 veteran. When a World War 1 veteran moves interstate, the TSI indicator should be set to 'N' in the outgoing state and to 'Y' in the incoming state. TA will then be paid to the veteran in the incoming state.
36.Where one member of a service pensioner couple, who normally live together and are eligible for TA, is overseas the other member will be paid at the base rate.
HOUSEHOLD INCOME LIMIT TEST
37.This test which applied under the voucher scheme has been abolished with effect from 1 July 1992. Where branches have pensioners who will become eligible for TA once the HIL Test is abolished and wish to have these pensioners paid automatically on 9 July 1992, they should:
a.before the TA conversion 'run' occurs on 20 June, record the pensioner's telephone number and a TSI of 'Y', and
b.destroy the one TRC voucher which will be generated.
WORLD WAR 1 VETERANS / MARINERS
38.Eligible World War 1 veterans / mariners, all of whom receive a rebate of the whole of the telephone rental charge, will be paid TA only by DVA. This applies even if the veteran is a client of DSS. There is no requirement for branches to obtain DSS clearance before paying TA to World War 1 veterans.
DSS LEGISLATION - PARTNERS OF WORLD WAR 1 VETERANS / MARINERS
39.DSS legislation precludes payment of TA to a DSS aged pensioner whose partner is receiving TA at the World War 1 Rate where the couple are living together. Where the couple are illness-separated the partner of a World War 1 veteran will be eligible for TA at the base rate provided she was a telephone subscriber. To assist DSS to comply with this legislative requirement the Department has provided DSS with an initial listing of World War 1 veterans presently being paid the TRC and will update this listing periodically.
40.TA will not be included in bereavement payments.
WORLD WAR 1 VETERANS WITHOUT PMF RECORD
41.World War 1 veterans for whom there is no PMF record (because they are not in receipt of any other payment) are to be paid TA automatically by cheque using information from the CDB.
FRINGE BENEFITS SAVED BUT NO PMF RECORD
42.Where a person is not in payment but is eligible for TA because his or her eligibility for fringe benefits has been saved that person will not be paid TA automatically. Branch offices are to arrange manual payments for persons in this category.
43.Where a person has dual eligibility for payment of TA (for example a service pensioner with fringe benefits who is also a special rate disability pensioner) his or her eligibility will be assessed in the following order:
a.World War 1 veteran first;
b.Service Pensioner with Fringe Benefits; then
c.War Widow or Disability Pensioner.
44.TA will be paid only once to a person on a TA pay-day no matter how many different entitlements the person may have to the allowance.
45.The system will be able to provide the following statistical information:
a.for each quarter, by state, how many pensioners were in receipt of TA and the amount of TA paid, in each of the following categories:
(1)World War 1 (WW1) veteran / mariner;
(2)war widow/er; (WW)
(3)service pensioner with fringe benefits (SP w/FB) paid at Base Rate;
(4)SP w/FB paid at Half the Base Rate;
(5)special rate disability pensioner (not WW1 veteran / mariner, WW or SP w/FB);
(6)extreme disablement adjustment disability pensioner (not WW1 veteran / mariner, WW or SP w/FB); and
(7)disability pensioner with amount increased under Section 27 Items 1 - 8);
(8)temporary special rate disability pensioner (not World War 1 veteran/mariner, WW or SP w / FB); and
b.annual amounts will not be provided by the system. Annual amounts can be calculated by adding the four quarterly amounts.
46.A report will be produced which shows indexation increases automatically (and for the World War 1 Rate, increases which are approved from time to time). The report will show the following fields:
b.title of allowance;
g.rate of allowance;
h.state total $; and
i.national total $.
47.For cross-reference cases, where a TA segment exists for both persons in the case, the TA segment for one of the persons must be removed before the cross-reference can be recorded. This is the same procedure which exists for TRC.
48.When it is necessary to change the telephone number or the TSI for cross-reference cases and the change is made on the Change of Address System, it is necessary to make the change for each file number for which the cross-reference exists.
49.Until further notice it will be easier to change telephone numbers on Client Registration (screens CR.VT or CR.DP).
EXPIRY DATE FOR VOUCHERS
50.On or after 1 July 1992 Telephone Rental Concession Vouchers are not to be issued to pensioners who become eligible. Replacement vouchers only may be issued after that date.
51.The 1992 Telephone Rental Concession Vouchers will be accepted for payment by AOTC offices and agencies only until 30 September 1992. Pensioners eligible for TA were advised of this limitation in the December 1991 bulk mailout and will be reminded in their July 1992 payment advice.
RECORDING PENSIONER TELEPHONE NUMBERS
52.Once TA is introduced the existing Telephone Rental Screens (TC.UP on 30 June 1992, TC.RE and TC.IQ in December 1992) will be removed. Recording of telephone numbers and setting of TSI from 1 July 1992 will only be able to be done by Client Registration Units.
53.Existing pensioners who wish to establish eligibility for TA will provide their telephone number to the Department and subsequently the number will be recorded and the TSI set by the Client Registration Unit (on screens CR.VT or CR.DP) or via the Change of Address system.
54.Where both members of a couple are living together the number will be recorded against both and the TSI set for both. New applicants who are telephone subscribers will have their application processed normally. For new service pensioners in a joint assessment the telephone number and the TSI will need to be recorded against both partners.
55.The Client Registration and Change of Address facilities have been changed to allow the same telephone number and a TSI of 'Y' to be recorded for both partners in a married assessment. If the address is changed on the Change of Address System then the appropriate telephone number will need to be inserted. Application and review forms will be amended in due course to enable the TSI and telephone number to be recorded for both the veteran and partner.
56.Pensioners may apply for TA, indicating that their telephone number is unlisted (sometimes referred to as "silent") and request that the number not be recorded. In these cases the applicant would still need to satisfy the examiner that he or she was a telephone subscriber. This could be done, for example, by presenting either an account or a letter from AOTC , or the examiner may accept the person's statement. In any case the person's telephone number must not be recorded on the system against their wishes.
TELEPHONE SUBSCRIBER INDICATORS
57.Where a pensioner is a telephone subscriber the TSI indicator will be set to 'Y' and the telephone number recorded. In a married assessment, where both partners are living together, the TSI indicator will be set to 'Y' and the telephone number recorded against both partners.
58.Where a pensioner is a telephone subscriber and the telephone number is unlisted, the TSI will be set to "U" and the number will not be recorded. In a married assessment, where both partners are living together, the TSI will be set to 'U' against both partners.
59.Where a new client is not a telephone subscriber and provides a contact number only, the TSI will be set to "S" and the number will be recorded.
60.Where a new client is not a telephone subscriber and does not provide a contact number the TSI will be set to "N".
ON-LINE TA FACILITIES
61.Inquiry Screen There will be an inquiry facility (PP.TI) attached to PIPS. The facility will display up to the last six TA payments in order of the earliest to the most recent. Later, when the facility for paying arrears and manual payments is introduced, payments made under this facility will also appear on the inquiry screen. All states will have access to the inquiry facility; there will be no bar to interstate access.
62.Calculator Screen The TA Calculator Screen (PP.TC) will calculate the amount of the arrears payment due.
63.Arrears/Manual Payment Screen Later the TA Arrears Screen (PP.TA) will be introduced. The amount of an arrears payment can be entered on this screen and the arrears payment will be generated automatically via the fortnightly assessment 'run'.
64.These facilities are expected to be on-line in July 1992. Systems edits will be used on the facilities but these have yet to be determined. Branch offices will be advised later of details.
TSI CONVERSION EXERCISE
65.At present the TSI indicator is set to 'Y' and the telephone number recorded only for that member of a pensioner couple in whose name the telephone service is registered. As the definition of telephone subscriber for TA is different to that for TRC, it will be necessary to set the TSI and record the number for both partners.
66.A conversion exercise will take place before the 'run' scheduled for 20 June 1992 for TA pay-day 9 July 1992. The exercise will automatically transpose the TSI indicator and telephone number for married service pensioner methods of assessment 01, 02, 03, 04, and methods of assessment 61, 62 and 63 (for married pensioners only). The conversion will be based on the following:
a.The TSI 'Y' and recorded telephone number will be transferred to the spouse where there is no TSI or telephone number recorded for the spouse.
b.The TSI 'Y' will be transferred to the spouse where the same telephone number is recorded against both partners and a TSI of 'Y' does not exist for the spouse.
67.The conversion will be done only for prime eligibility records in each case. The percentage of cases which are cross-referenced is very small; the conversion is not to transpose data for cross referenced records.
68.The conversion program will not check to see that the address is the same for both the veteran and his or her partner (for the methods of assessment involved, partners should have the same address). Where differing telephone numbers or telephone numbers with an 'N' are recorded a report will be produced for branch offices to investigate further.
69.There will be no conversion for married separated due to ill health cases (methods of assessment 21, 22, 23, 25 or 27). In view of the various scenarios which may apply for the recording of telephone numbers and indicators, there would be an unacceptable risk in automatically converting these cases. On cessation or review of married separated due to ill health cases branches will be required to carry out a manual conversion. Separated due to ill-health cases will be paid TA automatically with the person recorded as the telephone subscriber receiving the payment.
70.TA will be covered by Special Appropriation number 2-034-02-08; SRLF 4822.
71.For death cases the quarterly payment advice, in which the TA advice would appear, will be suppressed. Action to adjust the TA payment for a surviving service pensioner partner will be carried out in accordance with death processing procedures.
72.Contact officers for this project are as follows:
a.Project Manager — Colette Woodford(06) 2896684
b.Project Officer — Peter Thorp(06) 2896409
c.ADP Matters — Ken Stewart(06) 2896188
d.ADP Matters — Raelene Lihou(06) 2896799
NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR (BENEFITS)