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B19/1995 EXTENSION OF BLINDED PROVISIONS TO PARTNER SERVICE PENSIONS
DATE OF ISSUE: 21 MARCH 1995
EXTENSION OF BLINDED PROVISIONS TO PARTNER SERVICE PENSIONS
The purpose of this Departmental Instruction is to provide procedural guidelines and background information on the extension of blinded provisions to partner service pensioners effective from 20 March 1995.
2.The decision to pay service pension to blinded individuals arose from the 1994/95 Budget to pay standard (single) rate to widowed and separated partners of former veteran service pensioners. The intention of that initiative was to ensure that no pensioner would be disadvantaged by transferring to Veterans' Affairs service pension. Social Security already pays the blinded rate of pension free of income and assets.
3.To ensure that this group would not be disadvantaged by transferring to Veteran's Affairs, it was decided to extend the blinded provisions under the Veterans' Entitlement Act, to all partner service pensioners, including widowed and separated partners.
4.Section 43 of the VEA has been amended to extend the blinded provisions to partners. Attachment A is an extract of the amended legislation.
5.The commencement date of this legislation is 20 March 1995. The blinded rate of service pension will be payable to partners (at the married rate) and to widowed and separated partners (at the standard rate) from 30 March 1995.
6.To qualify under the blinded provisions a person must meet the eligibility criteria as currently set out in the General Orders Service Pension. A person may be regarded as permanently blinded in both eyes where:
(i)there is a total loss of sight; or
(ii)visual acuity on the Snellen Scale, after correction with suitable lenses, must be less than 6/60 in both eyes, or
(iii)the field of vision is constricted to 10 degrees of arc (5 degrees from fixation) in the better eye, irrespective of corrected visual acuity; or
(iv)there is visual impairment resulting from a combination of visual disorders equal to an impairment due to corrected visual acuity of worse than 6/60.
7.Where a partner of a veteran service pensioner qualifies for a service pension and meets the above criteria, the partner will automatically receive the maximum basic rate of service pension free of the ordinary income and assets tests.
8.Widowed and separated partners who are blinded can also be paid Additional Family Payments Dependant free of the ordinary income and assets tests.
9.Generally, in the case of married couples the veteran is paid child related payments (see DI no: B04/94 of 3 February 1994 for exceptions to the rule). This rule remains unchanged even in cases where the partner is receiving their service pension free of the income and assets tests due to blindness.
10.Partner service pension is taxable unless, the partner is both; under pension age and the partner of an invalidity service pensioner who is also under pension age. This is irrespective of whether the partner service pensioner is blinded or not.
11.Existing service pension brochures are currently being amended and include details of this extension.
12.All enquires should be directed to the Project Officer for the Standard Rate initiative, Kathleen O'Kane, telephone (02) 213 7431, fax (02) 213 7322.
NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Rate of age, invalidity and partner service pension (blind persons)
38.Section 43 of the Principal Act is amended:
(a)by inserting after paragraph (1)(b) the following word and paragraph:
"and (c) partner service pension payable to a person who is permanently blind;";
(b)by omitting from subsection (3) "veteran" and "veteran's" (wherever occurring) and substituting "person" and "person's" respectively;
(c)by omitting from the heading to the Rate Calculator at the end of this section "BLINDED VETERANS" and substituting "BLIND PERSONS";
(d)by omitting from Step 1 of the Method statement in point 43-A1 of the Rate Calculator at the end of the section "veteran's" and substituting "person's";
(e)by omitting from point 43-B1 of the Rate Calculator at the end of the sections "veteran's" (eherever occuring) and substituting "person's";
(f)by omitting from column 2 of Table C-2 in point 43-C3 of the Rate Calculator at the end of the section "veteran" (wherever occurring) and substituting "person";
(g)by omitting from column 2 of Table E in point 43-E2 of the Rate Calculator at the end of the section "veteran's" and substituting "person's".