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B51/1992 PENSION FOR WIDOW/WIDOWERS OR EX-PRISONERS OF WAR
DATE OF ISSUE: 16 NOVEMBER 1992
PENSION FOR WIDOW/WIDOWERS OR EX-PRISONERS OF WAR
The Minister announced in the Budget a new special pension for the widows and widowers of ex-Prisoners of War from all theatres of war. It has now been decided that the War Widow's/Widower's Pension (WWP) will be extended to cover widows and widowers of ex-POWs. Beneficiaries will also receive all the benefits currently available to War Widow/ers and dependants i.e. VCES, treatment, and the veteran will also be eligible for war graves commemoration.
2.Subject to the passage of legislation, which is being introduced in the current sittings of Parliament, the extension of WWP to these widow/ers and dependants will come into operation from 1 January 1993.
3.From 1 January 1993, all widows/widowers and dependants of Australian ex-POWs, including those who would not otherwise have been granted WWP, will be eligible for WWP and dependant's pensions. These benefits will be available where the ex-POW was in receipt of, or eligible to apply for, a disability pension. It is not necessary for any claim to have been made, or any disability accepted, so long as the ex-POW would have been eligible as an Australian ex-POW.
4.In considering whether a veteran was an Australian ex-POW the essential criterion which must be met is that in section 7 of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 i.e. Eligible War Service. If a Mariner, he must meet the definition of Australian Mariner in section 3 of the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act 1940.
5.Examples of those covered include widows/widowers and dependants of any:
.Members of the Defence Force who were ex-POWs;
.Members of Commonwealth or allied services who were ex-POWs and were domiciled within Australia immediately before appointment or enlistment in that service e.g. the RAF (see VEA ss.6(2);
.Persons employed by the Commonwealth on a special mission outside Australia who were ex-POWs;
."Eligible civilians" i.e. British subjects resident in TPNG (but not indigenous inhabitants) in WW II detained by the enemy (VEA ss.6(1)(k);
.Australian Mariners (SWPAA S.3(1)) who were ex-POWs; and
.Persons covered by a Minister's determination under S.5(R) of the VEA e.g. Commonwealth employees attached to the Defence Force or members of approved philanthropic organisations, such as Red Cross, Salvation Army etc., who were ex-POWs.
6.Examples of those not covered include widows/widowers and dependants of any:
.Commonwealth or allied veterans who were ex-POWs but were not domiciled within Australia immediately before appointment or enlistment e.g. a British ex-POW who migrated to Australia after the war.
.Commonwealth or allied mariners who were ex-POWs. (Not eligible under the SWPAA for disability pension).
7.Obviously, where an ex-POW has already died or dies before the end of the year, the pension cannot be paid before that date, unless the veteran was receiving a pension before his or her death which would qualify the widow/er to an automatic grant of War Widow/er's Pension or the veteran's death can be determined to be war-caused.
8.It is proposed that where the Department is notified of the death of a pensioner (either DP or SP) who is an ex-POW, and there is sufficient information available to establish eligibility and put the widow/er and/or dependant(s) pensions into payment, it will be generated without the need for application, in the same way as is now done in other automatic grant cases. Where this is not possible, it will be necessary for a claim form D2663 to be submitted. (The revised claim form will include a question about whether the veteran was a POW and the period and location of detention). The normal provisions about backdating of claims will apply, except that no pension will be payable before 1 January 1993.
9.The new pension will operate from 1 January 1993 but widows/widowers of ex-POWs who died before that date will be eligible. Recipients will be treated exactly the same as current recipents of WWP, that is the pension will not be taxable or income-tested but will be regarded as income by Department of Social Security for a Social Security pension or benefit.
10.In cases of death occurring before the implementation date, the widow/widower should be encouraged to immediately lodge a claim for WWP on the grounds of war-caused death (if this has not already been done). If the claim is not accepted the widow/er should then be advised that they will qualify for WWP as a widow/er of an ex-POW from 1 January 1993.
11.Like certain war widows and widowers who, under the provisions of section 13 of the VEA, are eligible to retain their pensions if they have remarried or married (after 28 May 1984 for widows and 22 January 1991 for widowers), those widows/widowers of ex-POWs who marry or remarry after being granted the new pension will also be eligible to retain it.
12.The appropriate system changes required to introduce the initiative are being implemented. These changes are:
.modification of the Death Processing System (DPS) such that where a death is recorded for a POW (identified by means of treatment eligibility type "TDE" - treatment detainee), eligibility and payment changes will be effected in the same manner as for other WWP grants; and
.modification of the advice produced following the DPS processing to explain the reason for the War Widow/er's pension grant.
13.A further Departmental Instruction will be issued after the legislation has been given Royal Assent.
NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR
10 November 1992