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B24/1993 REASSESSMENT OF ENTITLEMENT TO RENT ASSISTANCE, TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE AND REMOTE-AREA ALLOWANCE AT CHANGE OF ADDRESS.
DATE OF ISSUE: 30 April 1993
REASSESSMENT OF ENTITLEMENT TO RENT ASSISTANCE, TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE AND REMOTE-AREA ALLOWANCE AT CHANGE OF ADDRESS.
1.The purpose of this departmental instruction is to clarify the information to be obtained when a veteran or pensioner receiving Rent Assistance (RA), Telephone Allowance (TA) or Remote Area Allowance (RAA) advises the Department of a change of address. This will reduce the occurrence of overpayments of these allowances that arise from failure to reassess the person's entitlement to them.
2.The procedure described here is only applicable to a basic change of address. Where other aspects of a person's circumstances have also changed, such as if they have separated from their partner or have purchased a new home, information relating to these events will need to be obtained in the normal way.
CLIENT'S OBLIGATION TO NOTIFY OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS
3.A person receiving payments from the Department is required to notify of a change of address within the time specified in their obligation notice (usually 21 days).
4.They, or a representative, may advise the department in one of three ways:
5.Where such advice is given in person, or by telephone, it is important to immediately check the veteran or pensioner's payment details to see if they are receiving rent assistance, telephone allowance or remote area allowance. If they are, the additional information needed to reassess their entitlement to these payments should be obtained during contact with the person advising of the change. This ensures prompt adjustment of the veteran or pensioner's payment to the correct rate.
6.A departmental form is available for recording changes of circumstance that are received by telephone. This form should be used to record a change of address and any associated RA, TA and RAA information obtained from a person over the telephone. Its use is described in Departmental Instruction B42/92 issued on the 9th September 1992.
DEPARTMENT'S RESPONSIBILITY TO REASSESS ENTITLEMENT
7.Where the Department is notified of a change of address, if any RA, TA or RAA is payable it is clearly the Department's responsibility to ensure that this entitlement is reassessed. Therefore, it is the department's responsibility to request the appropriate information, either verbally when first notified, or with a written request under section 54A of the VEA.
INFORMATION REQUIRED IN ALL CASES OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS.
8.In all cases of change of address the following information is required:
.The person's new address;
.The day on which they changed address;
.Whether their postal address has changed;
.Whether any other aspect of their circumstances, relevant to the payments they receive, has changed.
9.If other aspects of a person's circumstances have changed, additional information concerning those changes should be obtained in the normal way.
INFORMATION REQUIRED TO REASSESS RA ENTITLEMENT
10.A person's entitlement to payment of rent assistance can be affected by any of the following changes:
.They cease paying rent or being liable to pay rent;
.They start paying rent at a different rate;
.They move into accommodation where they pay Government rent;
.They move into accommodation where they pay board and lodging;
.They become an ineligible property owner (as defined in subsection 5N(1) VEA);
.The person's partner starts receiving an allowance or pension from DSS or DVA, or there is a change in the partner's entitlement to such an allowance or pension;
.They leave Australia.
11.The first four changes are those most likely to occur in conjunction with a change of address. Thus the information required from a person advising of a change of address is:
.How much rent (if any) the veteran or pensioner pays for their new accommodation;
.The type of accommodation (eg. house, caravan, retirement village);
.To who, or to what organisation, the rent is paid;
.Whether the rent constitutes board and lodging (ie. is a component of the rent for meals).
12.If the new address of the veteran or pensioner is a nursing home or retirement village, or they are paying rent that constitutes board and lodging, it is also necessary to ask what proportion of the rent is for accommodation and what proportion is for meals. This is necessary as rent assistance is only paid in respect of the proportion that is for accommodation. An estimate by the person is acceptable if the proportions are not known. The two-thirds rule (see GOSP Hotwords - Two thirds rule) should be used if the person cannot estimate the proportions.
INFORMATION REQUIRED TO REASSESS TA ENTITLEMENT
13.A person's entitlement to payments of telephone allowance can be affected by any of the following changes:
.They cease to be a telephone subscriber;
.They start receiving telephone allowance from DSS;
.Their partner starts receiving telephone allowance from DSS or DVA, or there is a change in their partner's entitlement to telephone allowance.
14.Only the first of these changes is likely to occur in conjunction with a change of address, so the information required is:
.Whether they have a telephone connected at their new place of residence;
.Whose name it is connected in;
.Their new telephone number.
15.People who move into nursing home accommodation should be asked if they have a direct line service to their room, or a line through the homes PABX facility for which they pay rent. If they do not, they are no longer entitled to telephone allowance.
INFORMATION REQUIRED TO REASSESS RAA ENTITLEMENT
16.A person's entitlement to payment of remote area allowance can be affected by any of the following changes:
.They cease living in a remote area;
.They leave the remote area for a period of more than eight weeks;
.They leave Australia;
.The person's partner starts receiving remote area allowance from DSS or DVA;
.A child for which the person receives an additional amount of remote area allowance leaves Australia.
17.Of these only the first two changes would be likely to occur in conjunction with a change of address. In these cases all that needs to be done is to verify whether the new address given is in a remote area or not. No further information is usually required.
18.In some cases, such as where a rural address is given, the person may have to provide a more detailed explanation of the exact location of the residence to clarify whether it is in a remote area or not. This explanation should be written down and placed on the veteran's or pensioner's file.
FAILURE OF CLIENT TO NOTIFY OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS
19.For an overpayment of RA, TA or RAA to occur, the veteran or pensioner must fail to advise of an event listed on their obligation advice within the period stated on that advice. One of these events is a change of address.
20.An overpayment of RA, TA or RAA cannot be raised where the veteran or pensioner has advised of a change of address within the time allowed.
21.Where a veteran or pensioner fails to notify of a change of address within the obligation period, the statutory effective date for a reduction in pension is the day after the event. This causes an overpayment of RA or RAA from the next pension payday. An overpayment of TA however, will only occur from the next quarterly payday as TA is paid in quarterly instalments.
22.Say, for example, that a person is being paid rent assistance but moves into government housing so that they now pay government subsidised rent. They are no longer eligible for rent assistance. This occurs on the 2nd April, and the person is obliged to advise the department of such a change within 21 days. This gives the person until close of business on 23rd April to advise the department of the change. If they do, they have fulfilled their obligations and their rate of pension will be adjusted from the next pension payday. If they do not, their entitlement to rent assistance will cease on the 3rd April. From this day, any rent assistance paid to the person, constitutes an overpayment.
FAILURE OF DEPARTMENT TO REASSESS ENTITLEMENT
23.If the Department fails to act quickly on a change of address notification that has been received after the notification period has expired, and compounds such an overpayment through administrative error or delay, then that portion of the overpayment caused by error or delay should be waived.
NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR