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C26/1996 BUDGET INITIATIVE: IMMEDIATE ELIGIBILITY FOR RENT ASSISTANCE TO PENSIONERS WHO LEAVE THEIR FAMILY HOME TO PROVIDE OR RECEIVE COMMUNITY BASED CARE.

Document

DATE OF ISSUE:  28 MARCH 1996

BUDGET INITIATIVE:  IMMEDIATE ELIGIBILITY FOR RENT ASSISTANCE TO PENSIONERS WHO LEAVE THEIR FAMILY HOME TO PROVIDE OR RECEIVE COMMUNITY BASED CARE.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION...........................................................

BACKGROUND............................................................

CURRENT LEGISLATION - NOT AN INELIGIBLE PROPERTY OWNER..................

CHANGES...............................................................

NEW DEFINITIONS.........................................................

IN A CARE SITUATION......................................................

RECEIVING COMMUNITY BASED CARE........................................

PERSONALLY PROVIDING COMMUNITY BASED CARE.............................

SUBSTANTIAL LEVEL OF CARE...............................................

LEGISLATION.............................................................

ADMINISTRATION OF THE NEW PROVISIONS....................................

BOARD AND LODGINGS....................................................

PERSON PAYING RENT FOR TWO PREMISES....................................

RECORDING ON THE PIPS SYSTEM...........................................

PUBLICITY...............................................................

CONTACT OFFICER........................................................

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this Instruction is to provide details of the reforms to Rent Assistance (RA) which allows for immediate payment of Rent Assistance to either care receivers or care providers when they leave their family home and begin to pay rent.  Legislative changes announced in the May 1995 Budget are effective from 20 March 1996.  The Veterans' Affairs pay-day for implementation is 28 March 1996.

BACKGROUND

2.Currently, pensioners who enter nursing homes and supported accommodation can receive rent assistance immediately, while pensioners who receive care or provide care in a private home have to wait for a year before qualifying.

3.The effect of the changes is to extend current provisions that apply when pensioners vacate their home to enter a nursing home to those who vacate their home to receive or provide a substantial level of care in another private residence.

Current Legislation - Not an ineligible property owner

4.Currently under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA), rent assistance is only payable if, amongst other criteria, the person is not an ineligible property owner, that is still eligible (not ineligible) for rent assistance despite home ownership.

5.Included in this definition of not an ineligible property owner is a person who is residing in a nursing home (which is not part of a retirement village).  Such a person is eligible for rent assistance immediately upon entering the nursing home.

6.However, pensioners who temporarily leave their homes in order to receive care in the community are not included in that 'definition' and are therefore not eligible for RA due to the operation of paragraph 5L(7)(a) VEA.  This paragraph results in pensioners, if they own their home and are temporarily absent from that home for up to 12 months, being generally regarded as a 'property owner'.

7.As a 'property owner' under the definition in subsection 5L(4) VEA, a person is not eligible for rent assistance during the first twelve months of a temporary absence from their principal home.

8.The Act also precludes a pensioner who is paying rent and has to temporarily leave home to live in accommodation where they also have to pay rent from being paid Rent Assistance in respect of either residence.

CHANGES

9.In order to address the anomaly in treatment for RA eligibility between nursing home residents and people receiving or providing community based care, the following new categories have been added to subsection 5N(1) VEA which lists property owners who are not ineligible property owners for RA purposes:

a person who:

(i)is absent from the person's principal home, in relation to which the person is a property owner; and

(ii)is either:

(a)in a care situation but not residing in a retirement village; or

(b)personally providing community based care for another person.

10.This means that clients who leave their principal home to receive or provide community based care and have to pay rent for their new accommodation are now eligible for rent assistance immediately they begin to pay rent (subject to thresholds etc.).

NEW DEFINITIONS

11.The following new definitions have been added to accomodate these changes:

In a Care Situation

A person is "in a care situation" if:

(i)the person is in a nursing home; or

(ii)the person is receiving community based care.

Receiving Community Based Care

12."Receiving community based care" is now defined in subsection 5N(9) VEA as:

"if in the Commission's opinion, the person needs, and has been receiving or is likely to receive, a substantial level of care in a private residence for at least 14 consecutive days."

Personally Providing Community Based Care

13.Personally providing community based care has been defined in subsection 5N(9) VEA as:

"if in the Commission's opinion, the first mentioned person is personally providing for the other person in a private residence a substantial level of care needed by the other person and has personally provided, or is likely to provide, that level of care for at least 14 consecutive days."

Note:  A pensioner would have to be providing or receiving community based care for a minimum of fourteen (14) days before they could be considered for rent assistance.

Substantial level of care

14.Substantial level of care has not been defined in the VEA.  To determine whether a care receiver requires and is receiving a substantial level of care, they should meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Domiciliary Nursing Care Benefit (DNCB) is being paid to a care provider in respect of the care receiver; or

  • Carer Pension (from DVA or DSS) is being paid to a care provider in respect of the care receiver; or

  • Care receiver is in receipt of Disability Support Pension or Invalidity Service Pension and because of their condition require assistance; or

  • Care receiver is over pension age and regarded as frail; or

  • Care receiver can provide medical evidence stating they left their home due to illness; or

  • Care receiver can provide evidence that on their recent discharge from hospital they require assistance; or

  • Care receiver has been assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) and is awaiting institutional admission or has been accepted for approved respite care.

LEGISLATION

15.The Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (1995-96 Budget Measures) Bill  (No. 2) 1995 incorporated changes to Section 5 of the VEA which has been expanded to include definitions of:

  • in a care situation;

  • personally providing community based care; and

  • receiving community based care;

and to include changes to:

  • 5N(1) which has been extended to include people who have left their home to receive or provide community-based care as not ineligible property owners; and

  • 5N(3) which has been extended to allow a person who is paying rent and receiving or providing care in a home that is not their principal home and still paying rent for their principal home, to receive rent assistance in respect of either home.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE NEW PROVISIONS

Board and Lodgings

16.Where the pensioner in a care situation can identify the component paid for accommodation this amount will be treated as 'rent' for rent assistance purposes.  If the client cannot identify the component paid for accommodation, two thirds of the total amount paid is treated as rent.  The client's estimate or statement of the amount paid for lodging should generally be accepted without further investigation.

Person paying rent for two premises.

17.The situation may exist where a person is paying rent and providing or receiving community based care in a home that is not their principal home, and they are still paying rent for their principal home.  The legislation has been expanded to allow for rent assistance to be paid in respect of either of these premises.  The examiner will  therefore have to determine which premises or rental circumstances give the person the greatest amount of rent assistance.  This rental amount will be held in the pension assessment.

18.The provision to consider two premises for rent assistance has been made to cover cases where a person is placed in community based care for a short period (that must be greater than 14 days) to recover from an operation or illness but they intend returning to their principal home.  Similarly, a person may be temporarily absent from their principal home to provide care in some other premises because the care receiver only requires care for a short period.

Recording on the PIPS system

19.No changes will be made to the current PIPS system in respect of recording pensioners providing or receiving community based care.  They are to be recorded as a renter or boarder and lodger, depending on their situation.  The new PIPS/PC system however will have a residential situation indicator for pensioners providing or receiving community based care.

PUBLICITY

20.An article advertising this change to rent assistance will be placed in the March edition of the Age Pension News.

CONTACT OFFICER

21.Enquiries in relation to this DI can be directed to the Project Officer, Virginia Parry-Jones by telephone on (03) 9284 6450, Fax 03 9284 6794, or E-Mail V-B-PDI2.

W R MAXWELL

A/g DIVISION HEAD

COMPENSATION