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B26/1992 QUARTERLY ADVICES
DATE OF ISSUE: 22 JULY 1992
Introduction of Telephone Allowance (TA) from July 1992 and the need to advise pensioners of the quarterly TA payment details has led to a revision of the advices system. Introduction of TA is described in DI B25/92.
2.The need to revise the advices system has provided the opportunity to further improve communications between the Department and the veteran community. Not only will service pensioners receive quarterly payment advices, but so will war widows and the bulk of disability pensioners. The review has resulted in modification to the format, structure and content of advices, which better suits the needs of users. As well the quarterly advices system will result in efficiencies through joint / combined mailouts within the Department.
3.This instruction deals only with the quarterly advice component of the new system. Later instructions will address modifications to daily and fortnightly advices.
4.The following basic principles for all Income Support advices have been approved by the Repatriation Commission;
a.Clients will be advised whenever a payment rate changes.
b.Clients will not be advised normally when activity does not result in a payment rate change.
c.Advices will be as concise and clear as possible. This will be achieved by using Plain English and simple formats.
d.Joint advices will be sent whenever possible.
e.Maximum rate service pensioners will not be advised of their income and asset details.
f.Reduced rate service pensioners will be advised of their income and asset details as rarely as possible.
g.Service pensioners will be advised of their full obligations only once each year.
h.Wherever possible quarterly advices will be aligned to indexation dates.
i.As few advices as possible will be issued to clients.
j.Wherever possible Departmental mailouts will be aligned however care will be taken to avoid any 'junk mail' effect.
ISSUE OF ONE LETTER TO A COUPLE
5.Duplication of advices is both costly to the Department and annoying to clients. Client dissatisfaction when members of a couple receive their individual advices days apart has often resulted in increased complaints at branch offices.
6.With branch office agreement a number of trials have been conducted successfully where a single advice letter has been sent to members of a couple. As a result the Repatriation Commission has approved the issue of one letter to a couple in future Income Support mailouts.
METHOD OF ADDRESS
7.Advice letters will be addressed to pensioner couples in the following manner, whether or not surnames match:
a.line 1 - veteran's first name, initial, surname;
b.line 2 - partner's first name, initial, surname; and
c.lines 3 and 4 - address.
8.Where there is more than one address on the system, the payment advice will be despatched as follows:
a.the partner's address where the veteran is in a nursing home or medical institution and the partner is not;
b.the veteran's address where the veteran and partner have different addresses recorded but are still considered as a joint assessment; and
c.the veteran's address where both the veteran and partner are in nursing homes or medical institutions.
9.The following rules have been approved for use in salutations:
a.If there is a joint assessment and no surname match but both with titles, use "Dear title surname and title surname".
b.If there is a joint assessment and a surname match, use "Dear title / Mr and title / Mrs surname".
c.If there is a joint assessment and no surname match use " Dear Sir and Madam".
d.If there is a single assessment for a male use " Dear title / Mr surname".
e.If there is a single assessment for a female use "Dear title surname" or "Dear Madam".
f.If there is a single assessment for a female, and a male recorded with the same surname, use "Dear title / Mrs surname" (This case applies where the female receives the pension and her spouse does not but is recorded on the system).
g.If a joint assessment exists, but individual advices are to be produced for the couple, use "Dear title", then "Dear Mr" and "Dear title" then "Dear Mrs" in accordance with the principles, otherwise use "Dear Sir" and "Dear Madam".
10.The Valid Titles Report used at present with advices has been revised and is at Attachment 1. This report should be read in conjunction with the above salutation rules.
11.Applying the above rules, addresses and salutations on the majority of advices would look like this:
John A Citizen
Mary Z Citizen
90 Church Street
MARYBOROUGH QLD 4650
Dear Colonel and Mrs Citizen,
12.Quarterly advices will be issued at the following times:
a.March / April in conjunction with service pension indexation, BRI exchange rate variation and TA payment (first payday on or after 20 March);
b.June / July in conjunction with the IFA / AFA indexation and TA payment (first payday on or after 1 July);
c.September / October in conjunction with service pension indexation, BRI exchange rate variation and TA payment (first payday on or after 20 September); and
d.December / January in conjunction with DC Add-On, PA indexation and TA payment (first payday on or after 1 January).
13.In January and July the BRI exchange rate variation does not coincide with the issue of the quarterly advice. Consequently affected pensioners will be notified of the BRI adjustment in a separate advice on these two occasions.
14.The population for each quarterly advice mailout is to be selected on the basis of the following rules:
a.all TA recipients will be issued an advice each quarter;
b.those war widows/ers not eligible for TA will be issued an indexation advice only in March and September;
c.all service pensioners will be issued an advice in March and September (indexation);
d.all Dependent Child Add-On and Guardian Allowance recipients will be issued an advice in January (indexation);
e.all less than maximum rate service pensioners will be issued an advice in July (IFA/AFA indexation);
f.all Pharmaceutical Allowance recipients will be issued an advice in January (indexation);
g.all service pensioners whose pensions are affected by a deeming rate variation will be issued with an advice;
h.all service pensioners whose pensions are affected by an interest rate refresh will be issued with an advice; and
i.all service pensioners whose pension is affected by a BRI exchange rate variation will be issued with an advice.
15.The following are the possible reasons for issuing advices by quarters:
a.March / April
(1)indexation of service pension and rent assistance;
(2)indexation of war widow's/er's pension;
(3)payment of telephone allowance;
(4)deeming rate change;
(5)interest rate refresh;
(6)British retirement income exchange rate variation; and
(7) rent verification.
b.June / July
(1)indexation of income and asset free areas;
(2)payment of telephone allowance;
(3)deeming rate change; and
(4)interest rate refresh.
c.September / October
(1)indexation of service pension and rent assistance;
(2)indexation of war widow's / er's pension;
(3)indexation of telephone allowance;
(4)payment of telephone allowance;
(5)deeming rate change;
(6)interest rate refresh; and
(7)British retirement income exchange rate variation;
d.December / January
(1)indexation of dependent child add-on;
(2)indexation of guardian's allowance;
(3)payment of telephone allowance;
(4)deeming rate change;
(5)interest rate refresh; and
(6)PHB / PBC / TC1 card issue
16.An example of the wording of standard paragraphs for the first advice in July 1992 is at Attachment 2. Wording for the remaining advices will be developed following comment from branch offices and members of the veteran community.
17.A mock-up advice for the July 1992 quarter is at Attachment 3.
18.Certain types of cases will be subject to special processing rules, as follows:
a.special register payeesAny pensioner who receives a special register payment will be excluded from automatic advice production (and will be listed for manual action if required).
b.deceased pensionersAny case in which a date of death is recorded for an adult in a current assessment will be excluded from an automatic advice (and will be listed for manual advice if required).
c.overseas residentsAny overseas resident (derived from the address postcode) will have an advice printed and sent to the branch office for addressing and despatch.
d.fringe benefit changesIn future advices, where a change in fringe benefit eligibility occurs, a bulk advice will be printed with a brief paragraph making reference to the change. Subsequently an advice will need to be sent from the relevant branch office to accompany cards or to explain the withdrawal of cards. This modification could not be incorporated in the first quarterly advice.
FORMATTING OF PAYMENT DETAILS
19 — The payment details section of quarterly advices will be constructed as follows:
a.the date of effect will be included as a variable;
b.the name of each payee will be included as a variable at the head of the column in which the person's pension amounts are detailed;
c.where there is more than one payee the columns for each payee will be side by side;
d.for each payment type, a literal description will be printed. Literals which will be used are:
(2)dependent child add-on;
(5)remote area allowance;
(6)disability pension, with the percentage rate payable as a variable;
(8)widow's / er's pension;
(10)adequate means of support pension;
(14)specific disability allowance;
(18)recreation transport allowance; and
e.for each payment type, the $ amount will be printed in the column below the payee's name. For joint advices where one payee does not receive a particular payment type the amount field will be left as spaces;
f.after the payments amounts any negative adjustments will be shown; and
g.following the payments amounts and adjustments, a total payment will be shown, which will be derived from the sum of the individual components. The literal description of 'TOTAL PAYMENT' will be used for this item.
GENERAL ADVICE RULES
20.The following general rules will apply for the construction of quarterly advices:
a.LetterheadThe letterhead of the relevant branch office will appear at the beginning of each advice. The North Queensland letterhead will be used for Townsville regional office cases.
b.Departmental Logo The logo will be printed on each advice as part of the letterhead. The logo may be printed either in blue or black.
c.Repetition Where a payment reason applies to both members of a couple (for example indexation of BRI), the relevant paragraph will be printed only once.
d.Date of Advice Advices will have the date of the next working day after the formatting run.
e.Duplex Printing Advices will be printed in duplex.
f.Retrieval Full copies of advices will be able to be retrieved and reprinted if required.
g.Continuation Advices As a general rule continuation advices will not be sent. However, under the following conditions continuation advices will be sent:
(1)June / July quarter If pension is payable at less than the maximum rate before the reassessment process, an advice will be produced whether or not the payment rate varies. The advice will be required to advise the pensioner of the new income and asset free areas.
(2)September / October and March / April quarters If a service pension increase is off-set by (say) a BRI adjustment, an advice will be produced for all service pensioners, even where no variation occurs in the pensioner's overall payment amount. The advice will be required to advise the pensioner of the new component amounts.
21.Contact officers for the project are as follows:
Project Manager — Colette Woodford(06) 2896684
Project Officer — Peter Thorp(06) 2896409
ADP Matters — Ken Stewart(06) 2896188
ADP Matters — Raelene Lihou(06) 2896799
NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR (BENEFITS)
16 July 1992