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C25/2000 Simplified International Payments

Document

DATE OF ISSUE:  1 SEPTEMBER 2000

Simplified International Payments

Purpose

The purpose of this instruction is to provide legislative and policy information and procedural guidelines.  This information is provided with regards to the Social Security and Veterans' Entitlements Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Matters) Act 2000, which changes the eligibility for certain allowances under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) while a pensioner is overseas.

Authorised by

Jeanette Ricketts

Acting Branch Head

Income Support

8 September, 2000

Introduction and Background

Introduction

The Social Security and Veterans' Entitlements Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Matters) Act 2000 introduces changes to the eligibility criteria for Remote Area Allowance (RAA), Rent Assistance (RA), Pharmaceutical Allowance (PA) and Telephone Allowance (TA) when a pensioner leaves Australia from 20 September 2000.

Current Rules

Currently, the different allowances are affected by overseas travel in different ways, as shown in the following table.

Allowance

Effect of Going Overseas

RAA

Cancelled immediately on leaving Australia.

RA

Cancelled immediately on leaving Australia.

PA

Continues, unless the pensioner is going overseas for more than 12 months, then it is cancelled on January 1st of the year after departure from Australia.

TA

Continues whilst a pensioner is an Australian resident.

As RA, PA and TA are not affected by temporary travel within Australia, and RAA remains payable for 8 weeks, current legislation creates an anomaly in the way holiday travel within and outside Australia affects allowances.

Aim of Change

The aims of the legislation amendments are to:

Simplify the rules of portability applied to RAA, RA, PA and TA;

Apply similar rules to those travelling overseas and inside Australia; and

Ensure alignment with Centrelink, as per income support's policy.

New Portability Legislation

VEA references

Following is a list of the sections that were amended to effect the new portability rules.  Click on the appropriate heading below to see a copy of the Social Security and Veterans' Entitlements Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Matters) Act 2000 or Explanatory Memorandum.

Act

Explanatory Memorandum

Subject

VEA Sections

Pharmaceutical Allowance

58K(1) Note 2, 118A, SCH6-D2

Remote Area Allowance

5R(12) , SCH6-G3

Rent Assistance

5N(2), 58K(1) Note 1, SCH6-C3(e)

Telephone Allowance

118Q(3A), 118Q(3B)

Temporarily

5Q(1), 5Q(3) & 5Q(4)

Commencement date

The new rules apply to all pensioners who leave Australia from 20 September 2000 onwards. Those who depart from Australia prior to 20 September 2000 will be assessed under the old rules regardless of when DVA was notified.

New Rules

The table below outlines how eligibility for RAA, RA, PA and TA are affected by overseas travel under the amended legislation

Allowance

Overseas Temporarily

Overseas, other than temporary

RAA

Eligible for 8 weeks from departure from the remote area.

Eligible for 8 weeks from departure from the remote area unless leaving Australia in that time, where eligibility is lost immediately after departure from Australia.

RA, PA and TA

Eligible for 26 weeks after departure from Australia.

Eligibility lost immediately after leaving Australia.

Note: The new rules are applicable to these allowances whether paid as an income support allowance or as part of a 'DP Only' assessment.

Determination of temporarily overseas

It is essential to determine whether a person is overseas temporarily or otherwise before a decision can be made as to when or if allowances need to be varied.

Subsection 5Q(3) states:

In determining whether a person has left Australia temporarily or otherwise, regard is to be had to the following:

  1. the purpose for which the person left Australia;
  2. the intended duration of the persons absence from Australia;
  3. the frequency of the occasions on which the person has left Australia.

These factors will have to be considered in each case and a decision made by a DVA officer as to whether a pensioner is travelling temporarily or not.

For example, a person who lives outside Australia for extended periods and regularly returns to Australia for short periods may be considered permanently overseas.

A Notification of Overseas Travel Form has been developed in order to collect the information required to make this decision.

What is the Remote Area?

SCH6-G1(c) refers to RAA eligibility being reliant on being 'physically present in the remote area'. A recent legal opinion advises that any remote area is part of the remote area. That is, some one travelling from Fitzroy Crossing to Darwin is still considered to be in the remote area even though they are not in the remote area they reside in. Therefore, the 8 weeks will not start until departure from all remote areas of Australia.

Return resets the 8/26-week clock

Regardless of the length of stay in Australia, a return from overseas resets the allowance portability period. That is, the 8-week (for RAA) and 26-week (for RA, TA and PA) continuation period must be exceeded during one period of temporary absence from Australia for allowances to cease.

For example, a pensioner receiving RAA travels overseas for 6 weeks, returns home for half a week, and then returns overseas for another 5 weeks. The RAA would not cease at any stage, as no single period of absence from Australia was greater than 8 weeks, despite the entire period of absence from Australia being 11 weeks.

Effective Dates

Introduction

Although eligible from a certain date, allowances can be paid over different periods.

When RAA, RA and PA are paid in conjunction with an income support pension they form part of that pension's assessment, and are similarly paid on a daily basis.

If PA is being paid in conjunction with a compensation and income support pension (e.g. WWP and ISS, or DP and SP), the PA is being paid as part of the income support pension and is subject to daily entitlement rules.

However, PA can also be paid under 'DP only' assessments. In these cases the PA is payable fortnightly. That is, the pensioner is entitled to a full fortnight's payment if eligible on the pension payday.

TA, whether paid as an income support allowance, or otherwise, is payable quarterly and full payment is made if the pensioner is eligible on the telephone allowance payday.

Temporary absence from Australia

The effective dates that apply to the cancellation and reinstatement of allowances where a pensioner leaves Australia temporarily on or after 20 September 2000 are set out below.

Allowance

Cancel with effect from

Reinstate with effect from

RAA

The day following 8 weeks (57th day) from the date the pensioner leaves the remote area.

The date of return to the remote area, or date of notification, whichever is later.

RA

The day following 26 weeks (183rd day) from the date the pensioner leaves Australia.

The date of return to Australia, or date of notification, whichever is later.

PA (paid as an IS allowance)

The day following 26 weeks (183rd day) from the date the pensioner leaves Australia.

The date of return to Australia, or date of notification, whichever is later.

PA (paid as a non-IS allowance)

The pension payday following 26 weeks from the date the pensioner leaves Australia.

The pension payday following the date of return to Australia, or date of notification, whichever is later.

TA

The telephone allowance payday following 26 weeks from the date the pensioner leaves Australia.

The telephone allowance payday following the date of return to Australia, or date of notification, whichever is later.

Note: Even if notification of return is received within 14 days of the event, reinstatement date is the date of notification if later than date of return.

Absence other than temporary

The effective dates that apply to the cancellation and reinstatement of allowances due to overseas travel other than temporary from 20 September 2000 are set out below.

Allowance

Cancel with effect from

Reinstate with effect from

RAA

The day following 8 weeks (57th day) from the date the pensioner leaves the remote area or day after leaving Australia, whichever is earlier.

The date of return to the remote area, or date of notification, whichever is later.

RA

The day after leaving Australia.

The date of return to Australia, or date of notification, whichever is later.

PA (paid as an IS allowance)

The day after leaving Australia.

The date of return to Australia, or date of notification, whichever is later.

PA (paid as a non-IS allowance)

The pension payday after leaving Australia.

The pension payday after the date of return to Australia, or date of notification, whichever is later.

TA

The telephone allowance payday after leaving Australia.

The telephone allowance payday after the date of return to Australia, or date of notification, whichever is later.

Note: Even if notification of return is received within 14 days of the event, reinstatement date is the date of notification if later than date of return.

Eligibility

Payment of allowances can only be continued, or reinstated if all other eligibility criteria for the allowances are met.

Social Security Pensioners

Introduction

Besides the changes to Veterans' Affairs allowances, the Social Security and Veterans' Entitlements Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Matters) Act 2000 contained changes affecting Social Security age and wife pensioners being paid by DVA.

Overview of changes

The amendments to the Social Security Act 1991 (SSA) affected:

Portability of allowances, same as VEA allowances;

Portability of pensions may be proportional after 26 weeks, dependant on the working life rule (WLR); and

Comparable foreign payment (CFP) requirements extended to non-agreement countries.

The WLR and CFP legislation are only applied to age and wife pensioners who have resided overseas for a significant period of time during their working life (i.e. ages 16 to 65). As all of the age and wife pensioners that DVA process are in respect of Australian Disability Pensioners and their partners we expect these amendments to have little impact on this group.

The SSA guide is to be consulted for details on how overseas travel affects Social Security pensioners.

Link to the portability section of the SSA guide

Link to section of the SSA guide relating to CFP

Be aware that at the time this instruction was being written the guide was still being updated for the new rules, but will be finished shortly.

Overview of changes (continued)

Click on the following items to display documents from Centrelink, which clarify the changes.

Portability

              Age Pension Questions & Answers

              Centrelink Policy Guide

              Long-term pension portability

              Savings for people overseas immediately before 20/9/2000

              Proportional rate

              Abolition of Departure Certificate

              Former resident provisions

              Deletion of 6-month overseas reviews

CFP

Comparable Foreign Payments

Amnesty on Foreign Pension Income

If you require help in calculating the WLR for a pensioner contact Centrelink International Services on 131673.

Departure Certificates

Departure Certificates will not be required for departures on or after 20 September 2000. However, pensioners receiving Social Security age or wife pensions are still obliged to notify of overseas travel.

Procedural Information

Overview

Introduction

When allowances are altered due to a temporary absence from Australia the entire process to complete a case could span over a long period of time. However, the overall process only consists of 8 steps that need to be followed.

Overall Process

Following is an overview of the overall process involved when a pensioner goes overseas.

Step

Who

Action

1

Pensioner

Advises DVA of travel details

2

DVA Officer

Forwards a copy of the notification to Health and/or Registry for their action.

3

DVA Officer

Updates VIEW comments with details of travel and contact address - if an overseas address.

4

DVA Officer

Determines if departure is temporary.

If temporary, go to step 5.

Otherwise, got to step 8.

5

DVA Officer

Sends standard letter to pensioner advising absence is determined to be temporary and the effects on allowances and obligations.

6

DVA Officer

Sets review/s in VIEW as required.

7

VIEW

Generates review report and registers a DIA when review becomes due.

8

DVA Officer

Varies allowance/s in PIPS/PC and sends auto-advice.

9

DVA Officer

Decides if further action is required regarding variation of allowances due to overseas travel.

If yes, repeat steps 6 onwards as required.

If no, go to step 10.

10

DVA Officer

Considers if transfer of payment and file to Tasmania State Office is required

Change to original notification

If a pensioner contacts the Department with a change to their initial advice, or further information, the same process can be followed with reviews being amended or deleted as required.

Procedures on Notification

Introduction

There are certain procedures that must be followed upon receipt of advice from the pensioner. Depending on the type and length of travel these actions may finalise the case or set it up for action at a later date.

Notification of Overseas Travel form

This is a new form to be completed either by pensioners themselves or by DVA staff when contact is made about overseas travel.

The form collects the data required to:

Continue payment of allowances whilst overseas

Cancel allowances

Reinstate allowances; and

Contact the pensioner or a representative while overseas.

Available in: DVA Facts, Forms, Review Circumstances – Form No D478

Advices

If the overseas travel is temporary, there will usually be no PIPS/PC action required at the time of notification. Therefore it will be necessary to send the pensioner a standard letter advising the absence has been determined to be temporary. Draft standard letters have been forwarded to the State Offices for their approval, and will be available in IS Standard Letters, Misc in October.

If the absence from Australia is determined to be other than temporary allowances can be varied on PIPS/PC immediately. An automatic advice will generate upon completion of that action. The processing officer is to include a paragraph in the free text to advise the pensioner of the decision that travel is permanent.

Transfer to Tasmania State Office

It is necessary to transfer the file and payment of any pensioner that has left Australia, other than temporarily, to the Tasmanian State Office as per current interstate transfer procedures.

Publicity

Introduction

Due to the relatively low impact of this initiative on DVA pensioners, publicity has been limited to articles in the Age Pension News. However, Fact Sheets and the electronic version of You & Your Pension have been amended to reflect the changes for future reference.

Fact Sheets

The following Fact Sheets have been amended to reflect the new rules, and will be available from 20 September 2000:

IS12: Social Security Age Pension Allowances

IS13: Telephone allowance

IS14: Income Support Allowances

IS48: Children

IS49: Children – Social Security Age Pension

IS74: Renting & Rent Assistance

IS75: Renting and Rent Assistance – Social Security Age Pensioners

IS77: Travelling overseas

IS137: The things you need to tell us about.

You & Your Pension

Although pensioners' obligations have not been changed by this legislation, pages 17, 18, 34 and 35 of You & Your Pension refer to loss of allowances due to any overseas travel. The electronic version on the DVA web-site has been updated to reflect the changes.

System Information

VIEW Review enhancements

Introduction

Enhancements have been made to the VIEW Review system. These are due for implementation early September 2000.

Background

The review feature has been available in VIEW for some time under the 'Client Activity' tab. However, statistical information obtained from the Review folder indicates that it is not being effectively utilised.

The development solution approved for the 1999/00 budget initiative, Simplified International Payments (SIP), which allows the continued payment of income support allowances for a temporary period, required enhancements to the VIEW Review folder.

As part of SIP implementation, approval was given to use this opportunity to enhance the review types and reports.

The changes

The procedure for setting a review remains unchanged, and the reporting function simpler.  A summary of the changes are as follows:

Comment field extended and mandatory

New review types included to be more descriptive

CMS cases registered for particular review types

Status of complete or incomplete available for each review

Reports automatically generated on a fortnightly basis

Reports to show more detailed information

Comments field

The comment field when setting a review has been expanded to contain up to 999 characters, and is now a mandatory field.

As the review system relies on the reports that issue as the basis for enabling processing, the more extensive the comments attached to the review the easier it is for an individual to process the case at a later date. For example, information such as date of departure, pensioners travelling and reason for the review should be included when setting an 'Overseas Temporary' review.

New review types

To enable the review type to be easily identified, the existing 'Income Support' type has been changed to 'Income Support Other', Overseas Pension  to Overseas Pension (Tas) and the following types have been added:

Foreign Pension Review
For reassessment of any foreign pension received in a currency not contained in the exchange rate database in PIPS.

Income Support Business
For the reassessment of a pensioner's interest in a business.

Income Support Earnings
For the reassessment of pensioner earnings.

Income Support Other DIA
For any other income support review that will require a PIPS case to be completed to finalise the matter.

Income Support Other
For any other income support review that does not require a PIPS case to be created.

Income Support Trust/Cmpy
For the reassessment of a pensioner's interest in a trust or company.

Overseas Pension (Tas)
A review type used by Tasmania State Office to indicate an annual re-assessment of pension is required on a pensioner overseas permanently.

Overseas Temporary
For cases where pensioners travel overseas temporarily and their allowance/s need to be ceased and/or re-granted after a period of time.

Automatic registration

All of the new review types (except Income Support Other), the Overseas Pension (Tas), and Bereavement reviews will have a Departmental Initiated Action (DIA) registered on the Case Management System the first time they are reported upon in the automatic fortnightly report. This will allow for the PIPS/PC action that is necessary to fully complete the reassessment of the pension.

These cases will be appropriately attributed to indicate which type of review case they are, and registered with a receipt date the same as the date of the review.

A DIA is registered for each review that is registered against a file number. Where a review applies to more than one person in an assessment the review should only be recorded against one pensioner and the comments field utilised to provide details of who the review applies to.

Completed status

Once a review has been completed the review no longer needs to be reported on in the fortnightly reports.  Therefore, a review status functionality has been incorporated into the enhanced VIEW Review folder.  With the old review system it was necessary to manually delete the review once the review action was completed to prevent it from be reported again.  The new functionality of giving a review a status of complete or incomplete negates the need for deletion.

Where a DIA is automatically recorded, the system will update the status of the review case to complete.  This indicates the review reporting side of the case has been completed.  It will not be necessary to manually change the status of these reviews.  However, the complete status should be updated by the officer to read 'yes' once a review that does not have a case automatically registered is finalised.  Otherwise, the review will remain incomplete and will continue to appear on automatic reports each fortnight.

As all records remain on the database, unless deleted, all reviews whether complete or not can be reported on in ad-hoc reports, if required.

The function to delete a review is still available as per current procedures.

Deceased pensioners

Cases where the pensioner is deceased will still be reported on, but will have a '#' symbol before the pensioner's name to indicate they are deceased.

Due to complications that may arise with other systems, a DIA will not automatically be registered, regardless of the review type. As no DIA is registered the review will be recorded as incomplete.

It must be decided if the review, and any future reviews, need to be actioned for another pensioner on that file number. If so, the reviews against the deceased pensioner will need to be deleted, and set against the surviving pensioner.

Once the reported review is finalised – that is, a DIA registered, or the appropriate review action taken – it will need to be updated as completed.

Reports

There will be two types of reports that can be generated via the VIEW Review folder:

An automatic fortnightly report

Ad-hoc reports

Reports will contain the following information:

Client Name

Client Number

Review Type

Date of Review

Date CMS created (if applicable)

Comments

Complete status

User Logon ID

Fortnightly reports

Fortnightly reports will print automatically on the first Friday of each pay period for all incomplete reviews due by the end of the following pay period.

For example, incomplete reviews falling due prior to and including 2/10/2000 will be included in the report to print on 8/09/2000.

Only one master copy will be printed per state.  The report will be printed to the State Office's central mainframe printer as per existing printing procedures for CMS reports in your state.

The fortnightly review report will be sorted in alphabetical order by client surname, then by review type.

Ad-hoc reports

A review report can be requested at any time, for any period, by anyone with access to request reports in VIEW.  In the past, these reports printed to a mainframe printer but now there is the option to print to any LAN printer installed onto your computer.  The printers will appear in a drop-box for selection.

Ad-hoc reports can be requested to include the following criteria:

Review Type – all review types or one selected from the drop-box; and/or

Review Status – completed reviews only, incomplete only, or all reviews by selecting yes, no, or blank from the drop-box; and/or

Reviewer – reports on the reviews set by an individual by entering the person's logon id.

These fields default to report on all review types of all status for all officers.

The sort criterion allows the requesting officer to sort the report into the order best suited for their needs.

Completed case will be differentiated in ad-hoc reports by being italicised. Cases where the pensioner is deceased will still be reported on, but will have a '#' symbol before the pensioner's name to indicate they are deceased.

Note:The ad-hoc reporting process cannot trigger the automatic registration of a DIA and change of complete status.

PIPS/PC

Introduction

To vary an allowance due to overseas travel it will be necessary to complete a PIPS/PC case. For those cases triggered by a VIEW review a DIA with overseas attribute will already have been registered automatically.

Modification to PIPS/PC

Only one minor modification has been made to PIPS/PC. Whenever the overseas indicator in the Adult Details or Child Details screens has changed the Residential Situation screen becomes a mandatory field. The correct residential situation and the 'RA Not Payable' field are to be recorded correctly for each individual's circumstances upon departure and return.

Canceling Allowances

Pensioner details need to be updated for each person in the assessment who has lost eligibility to allowances due to being outside Australia, including children.

If canceling one member of a couple's allowance we must consider if the other member's allowances need to be increased to the single rate.

A pensioner cannot get the extra child RAA if not receiving RAA in their own right. PIPS/PC calculates this accordingly.

Allowance

Screen update

RAA

Adult/Child details – RAA eligibility indicator removed

RA

Adult/Child details – overseas indicator set to yes

Residential Situation – RA not payable overseas

PA

Adult/Child details – overseas indicator set to yes – cancel PA immediately

TA

Adult/Child details – overseas indicator set to yes

Although the pensioner is physically overseas, the overseas indicator cannot be set to yes prior to cancellation of RA and/or TA as payment is dependent on the overseas indicator.

Reinstating allowances

As with the cancellation of allowances, each pensioner's details need to be updated separately to reinstate payments correctly.

It will also be necessary to ensure each member of a couple is being paid the correct rate of payment once returned.

Allowance

Screen update

RAA

Adult/Child details – RAA eligibility indicator set

RA

Adult/Child details – overseas indicator set to no

Residential Situation – update appropriately

PA

Adult/Child details – overseas indicator set to no

TA

Adult/Child details – overseas indicator set to no

RAA eligibility indicator

Clicking on the box next to Remote Area Allowance sets or removes the RAA indicator. The example below does not have RAA eligibility.

Overseas indicator

Selecting one of the 'yes' choices in the Overseas drop-box will set the overseas indicator, and 'no' removes it. The two extra choices not mentioned above have been deliberately left on the system for the cases where pensioners leave Australia prior to 20 September 2000.

Residential Situation

The 'RA Not Payable' field will default to 'Client Overseas' once the overseas indicator has been set. It is only possible to select 'Client Overseas' if the overseas indicator is set.

If a pensioner is overseas temporarily, with no primary residence in Australia, the overseas indicator will have to be set upon departure to stop RA. TA and RAA will also cease, as they can no longer be a telephone subscriber or have a residence situated in a remote area as required in the VEA.

Advices

When sending an auto-advice to members of couples where only one member of the couple has gone overseas, separate advices must be selected. If joint advices are selected the computer calculates the total change to the joint payments and cannot recognise the increase and reduction in allowances for each member of the couple.

Age Pension Questions & Answers

The following Questions & Answers relate to age pensioners and are provided to help answer any queries which might arise.

1. Will I be able to continue getting my Pharmaceutical Allowance as part of my age pension while I'm overseas?

Yes, unless you will be leaving Australia permanently.  From 20/9/2000, for people who are going overseas only temporarily (i.e. who are  intending to return), Pharmaceutical Allowance can continue for up to the first 26 weeks after leaving Australia.  If you leave permanently, your Pharmaceutical Allowance will cease as soon as you depart Australia.

2. What about my Rent Assistance and Telephone Allowance — will they still be paid?

Yes, from 20/9/2000, these allowances can continue to be paid for up to 26 weeks after leaving Australia, provided you are going only temporarily.  However, you still need to be qualified for the payment, that is, you are still paying private (non-Government) rent on your Australian home, or are still a telephone subscriber for a service in Australia.  If you leave permanently, your Rent Assistance and Telephone Allowance will cease as soon as you depart Australia.

3. I live in a remote area and receive Remote Area Allowance.  Can I continue to get this if I go overseas?

Yes, from 20/9/2000, this allowance can continue for short absences (even overseas absences) away from the remote area, provided you are going to return to the remote area.  Remote Area Allowance can only continue for the first eight weeks of any absence from the remote area.  If you leave the remote area permanently, your Remote Area Allowance will cease immediately.

4. You say that my age pension rate might be reduced if I stay overseas for more than 26 weeks.  Can you explain how this works?

From 20/9/2000, age pensioners who stay overseas for more than 26 weeks will have their normal pension rate reduced if they have spent less than 25 years in Australia between age 16 and age pension age.  The rate will be a proportion of the normal rate they would have otherwise received, depending on how many years' residence they have between those ages (up to a maximum of 25 years).  The “normal rate” is the rate they usually receive, either full-rate or part-rate, depending on their income and assets.

Here are some examples of how this works:

  •       an age pensioner who has lived all her life in Australia would have well in excess of 25 years' residence between 16 and age pension age, so after she has been overseas for 26 weeks, she will still receive her normal rate, i.e.. 25/25ths of her pension rate.
  •       an age pensioner who lived in Australia for 10 years from age 30 to age 40 would receive 10/25ths of his normal pension rate once he had been overseas for more than 26 weeks;
  •       a person who first arrived in Australia after age pension age would have no residence between 16 and age pension age.  If this person is receiving age pension and leaves Australia for more than 26 weeks, the pension rate would reduce to 0/25ths, i.e. no pension at all would be payable.

Note that there are special rules for people going to New Zealand, or who are paid under an International Social Security Agreement.

5. My partner is on a different payment.  How will that payment be affected by the changes?

This depends on the payment.  From 20/9/2000, most payments will be payable for the first 26 weeks of an absence from Australia.

  •       Age pension, some Disability Support pension (where the person is severely disabled) and some Wife and Widow B pensions (e.g. where the person has lived in Australia for 10 years or more) will be payable for indefinite periods of absence.
  •       All other income support payments (e.g. Carer Payment, Partner Allowance, Mature Age Allowance) can continue for only the first 26 weeks of an absence.  In most cases, these payments can only be made for temporary absences.  If the person is going permanently, payment will cease on departure.
  •       Mobility Allowance and Carer Allowance will also be payable for the first 26 weeks of a temporary absence.
  •       Newstart, Sickness Allowance, Youth Allowance and Special Benefit can only be paid overseas if the absence is for certain reasons (e.g. in a family crisis or for humanitarian reasons).  The maximum period is 26 weeks, but the absence allowed would usually be less, depending on the reason for the absence.

Note that there are special rules for people going to New Zealand, or for people who are paid under an International Social Security Agreement.  In a small number of cases, there may also be restrictions on some payments if people have only recently returned to Australia

6. I also receive payment for children.  How will that be affected by the changes?

Family payments are changing under the Families Assistance legislation from 1 July 2000.  The full rate of Family Tax Benefit will be payable for the first 26 weeks of a temporary absence, and after that will reduce to the minimum rate.  All Family Tax Benefit will cease after 3 years' absence.  If a person leaves permanently, Family Tax Benefit will cease immediately.

7. Can I continue to get my age pension if I go overseas permanently?

Yes.  Age pension can be paid for permanent absences.  You should note that add-ons such as Pharmaceutical Allowance and Rent Assistance cannot be paid for permanent absences.  Also, your rate will reduce after 26 weeks' absence if you lived in Australia for less than 25 years between 16 and age pension age.

However, age pension is not payable for permanent absences to New Zealand, or for permanent absences to any other country if the pension is paid under either the United Kingdom or New Zealand Social Security Agreements.

8. What happens if I go to New Zealand?

Age pension is only payable for the first 26 weeks of a temporary absence to New Zealand, and not at all for permanent absences.  If going permanently or for more than 12 months, you can claim a New Zealand pension.

9. What happens if my pension is paid under a Social Security Agreement?

If your Australian pension is paid under a Social Security Agreement between Australia and another country, then whether your pension can be paid overseas, and for how long and at what rate, is determined by the terms of that Agreement.  For example:

  •       Australian pensions paid under the Agreement with the United Kingdom are payable overseas for the first 12 months of a temporary absence only.  The rate of payment will be the same as it was in Australia, although after 26 weeks, any add-ons such as Pharmaceutical Allowance will stop.  If you depart permanently, your pension will be cancelled immediately.
  •       Australian age pensions paid under the Agreement with New Zealand are payable for the first 26 weeks of a temporary absence only.  The rate of payment will be the same as it was in Australia. If you depart permanently, your pension will be cancelled immediately.
  •       If your Australian pension is paid under another Agreement and you are thinking of going overseas, you should ring Centrelink International Services on 13 1673 to find out how your payment will be affected.

10. I only recently returned to Australia and claimed my age pension.  Are there any special rules which apply to me?

Yes.  There are special rules for Australian residents who left the country permanently, who later return to Australia to live and who then claim an age pension.  If you are granted age pension before 20/9/2000, no payment can be made for any absence overseas that starts within one year of the date of return for permanent resettlement in Australia.  If you are granted age pension on or after 20/9/2000, no payment can be made for any absence overseas that starts within two years of the date of return for permanent resettlement in Australia.  After you have been here for two years since your recent return, normal rules will apply.

11. Last time I went overseas I had to get a Departure Certificate.  Do I still need this?

No. However, you still need to tell us about your departure.  We will also send you a letter giving you all the information about your Centrelink payment you will need while overseas.

12. I'm planning to go overseas in the future. When should I tell Centrelink?

You need to tell Centrelink about 6 weeks before you go.  This is so you can find out how your payment will be affected.  You may decide to change your plans if your payment will reduce or cancel.

However, if you have to leave in a hurry (for example, in an emergency), phone us and tell us — even if you have to phone from the airport!  We will usually only need to ask you a few simple questions.

13. How do I get more information?

When you phone us to tell us about your plans to leave Australia, we will tell you all you need to know, including:

  •      whether your payment rate will be affected, and when;
  •      how you will receive payment while you are overseas; and
  •      how to contact us if you need to while you are overseas.

14. Do I need to come in for an interview and fill in a lot of forms?

No. You can just phone us on 132300 and we will usually only need to ask you a few simple questions.

15. What happens if I go before 20/9/2000?

If you are going before 20/9/2000, phone us and we will tell you how your payment rate will be affected, and when.  If you are still overseas on 20/9/2000, you will continue to be paid as we previously advised you.  The pre-20/9/2000 rules will continue to apply to you even if you return to Australia for a short period (less than 26 weeks).  However, if you return to Australia for more than 26 weeks and then later go overseas again, you will be assessed under the new rules.

16. I only receive a Senior's Health Card.  Will this be affected by the changes?

No.  Senior's Health Card will continue to be issued only to people who are in Australia.

17. I receive a Service Pension from the Department of Veterans' Affairs.  Will I be affected by these changes?

People who are receiving a Service Pension from the Department of Veterans' Affairs will be able to receive add-on payments such as Pharmaceutical Allowance for the first 26 weeks of a temporary absence. You should contact your usual office of the Department of Veterans' Affairs for more information if you are thinking of going overseas.

18. I receive a Centrelink age pension through the Department of Veterans' Affairs.  How will I be affected by these changes?

If your Centrelink (Social Security) age pension is paid through the Department of Veterans' affairs, it will be treated as a normal Centrelink pension and the changes will apply to you the same way they apply to all age pensioners.

Centrelink Policy Guide

Income Support Payments:

PAYMENT TYPE

NOW PORTABLE

PROPOSED PERIOD fr 20/9/00

RATE CALCULATION PROVISIONS

From 20/9/2000

*

Indefinite.

Indefinite.

Proportional after 26 weeks if autonomous, regardless of date of grant or residence in Australia on 8.5.85.  Proportional portability to be calculated on own working life residence in all cases. If Agreement provisions apply, proportionality is applied from date of departure or date transferred to Agreement.

*†Wife Pension

For 12 months (unless agreement provisions apply).  Entitled persons

[4]
  1. A wife pensioner is an entitled person if she was an Australian resident for at least 10 years or the partner of a man involved in the so called Greek conspiracy allegations.
[4] (go back)
have indefinite portability.

Indefinite if an entitled person. Otherwise portability limited to 26 weeks (unless Agreement provisions apply).

Proportional after 26 weeks if autonomous.  Proportionality is based on the wife's own working life residence.  If Agreement provisions apply, rate is proportional from date of departure, or date transferred to Agreement.

Add-ons and Mobility Allowance: (Proportional portability is not applicable)

PAYMENT TYPE

NOW PORTABLE

PROPOSED PERIOD From 20/9/2000

Rent Assistance

Not portable except for limited portability in conjunction with more-than-minimum family payment.

Portable for up to 26 weeks of

Portable if primary benefit is paid under UK/NZ Agreements, not portable under any other Agreement

Pharmaceutical Allowance

Not portable

Portable for up to 26 weeks of a *temporary absence where the primary benefit remains payable.

Portable if primary benefit is paid under UK/NZ Agreements, not portable under any other Agreement.

Remote Area Allowance

Not portable

In principle portable for up to 26 weeks of a temporary absence, however, a person cannot continue to be qualified if the absence from the remote area is longer than 8 weeks.  Portable if primary benefit is paid under UK/NZ Agreements, not portable under any other Agreement

Telephone Allowance

Not portable

Portable for up to 26 weeks of a temporary absence, where primary benefit remains payable and telephone rental is paid in Australia. Portable if primary benefit is paid under UK/NZ Agreements, not portable under any other Agreement.

OTHER REFINEMENTS TO THE PORTABILITY LEGISLATION

PROPOSED CHANGE

REASON

Remove the savings provision which exempts pensions granted on/before 1 July 1986 from the application of the proportional portability provisions.

Current arrangements are inequitable and difficult to administer.  The removal of this provision will allow an even and comprehensive application of the proportionality provisions.

Remove the saving provisions which exempt some who were Australian residents on 8 May 1985 (depending on country of destination) from the application of the proportional portability provisions.

Current arrangements are inequitable and difficult to administer.  They also discriminate against people going to agreement countries. The removal of this provision will allow an even and comprehensive application of the proportionality provisions.

Remove the savings provisions allowing disability support pensioners granted before 12 November 1991 unlimited portability regardless of the severity of their medical condition.

This provision is inconsistent with current disability policy for the non-severely disabled.

Standardise the working life residence rules so that the factor used to calculate the portable rate after 26 weeks will be confined to the individual pensioner's working life residence (for autonomous cases only - not for people paid proportional Agreement rates).

Certain pensioners can currently take advantage of their partners' working life residence to qualify for higher proportional pension rates.  This results in Australia accepting a disproportionate responsibility for people with little connection to our residence-based system.  Current arrangements are complicated, inequitable and difficult to administer.  The removal of this provision will allow an even and comprehensive application of the proportionality provisions.

Restrict long-term portability for former residents to absences occurring after 2 years have elapsed since the date of their last return to Australia and remove the discretion for “unforeseen circumstances” which allows export within the period of restriction.

There are instances of former residents returning to Australia simply to secure a portable pension.  This undermines the application of the law to Australian residents, as defined, and allows former residents to secure entitlements which should be available under agreements only.   Currently, the period of restriction is 1 year only - the extension to 2 years is expected to act as sufficient deterrent.

Repeal the departure certificate legislation (note that customers will still be required to notify departure/intending departure).

Departure certificates were introduced in February 1989.  They are unpopular with staff and customers alike.  In 1995, the penalty clauses were substantially moderated.  Savings from the initiative are now minimal and do not justify the administration.

Insert a provision for the extension of the portability period (by high-level determination in Area Offices and CIS) when return to Australia is delayed by extreme, unforeseen circumstances..

To provide the facility to meet special situations (which will be very specifically defined in policy guidelines) without resorting to the Act of Grace provisions.

Repeal the special need and specified foreign country provisions in the Act.

The provisions are not used.

Insert savings provisions for age, DSP, wife and widow B customers who are already overseas on 20/9/2000. They will continue to have their current portability conditions (including indefinite or specific period of payment allowed, proportionality-free period, effect of short return to Australia renewing these periods, use of partner WLR) applied until/unless they return to Australia for 26 weeks or more.

Customers who departed before the new rules are implemented have already had portability and proportionality decisions made under the old rules.  They should not be affected by the new rules until they have returned to Australia.  The 26-week return provision is to ensure that short temporary returns do not affect the 'saved' status.

Portability Requirements

Long-term pension portability

Requirement ID: PS001Version:1.0Date of Last Update: 8/12/1999

Priority: HighImportance: Mandatory Contact: Denise Moser, x222747

Requirement Title: Long-term pension portability: apply new portability rules for pensions which are portable indefinitely (age pension, DSP for the severely disabled, wife and widow B pensions for 'entitled persons').

Description:

Rules:

For rules for customers who are already overseas on 20/9/2000, see PS011.

From 20/9/2000, the following autonomous payments will be portable indefinitely (other than for departures to NZ, and provided the person is not affected by 'former resident' provisions - see PS015):

  •      Age pension (as now)
  •      DSP for severely disabled pensioners only (removing the granted-pre-12/11/91 provision)
  •      Wife and widow B pensioners who are 'entitled persons' (these categories are the same as now).

Note that DSPs must be severely disabled on departure in order to attract indefinite portability (this is the same as at present).  A person who is not severely disabled on departure but who later becomes severely disabled does not then have indefinite portability; they remain portable only for their original 26 weeks.  Further, if a severely-disabled person with indefinite portability is later medically reviewed and found to be no longer severely disabled, portability is then restricted to the next 26 weeks and the record must be cancelled 26 weeks after the person ceased to be severely disabled.  This reflects existing rules, but with the time period reduced to 26 weeks.

For temporary departures, the rate paid for the first 26 weeks after departure will include add-ons (PhA, RA, RAA

For both temporary and permanent departures, the rate paid from 26 weeks after the date of departure will be the proportional rate using the person's own WLR (see PS012).  The only exceptions to proportional rate are for DSP and widow B where the qualifying event occurred while the person was an Australian resident.  Note that if a person has zero WLR (e.g. arrived after age-pension age) then the proportional rate will be nil.  Customers must be advised of the rate reduction or cancellation.

It will no longer be necessary to review cases 6 months after departure (see PS018).

Where a customer returns to Australia, the rate must cease to be proportional (if it was so) from the date of return, whether that return is for Australian residence or not (i.e. regardless of what is recoded as Country of Residence).  Customers who return to Australia must be paid PhA, and RA if qualified (i.e. paying private rent on their principal home in Australia), and be issued concession cards only if their Country of Residence is Australia (or is changed to Australia, i.e. they again become a resident, if they were previously resident elsewhere).  They must be paid RAA only if resident in a remote area.  They must be paid  TAL (if qualified, i.e. a “subscriber” to an Australian telephone service) while physically in Australia.   If a customer is physically in Australia but is not a resident (i.e. Country of Residence is not Australia) then PhA, RA and RAA cannot be paid, and cards should not be issued.

Any subsequent departure will again be assessed under the above rules.  Note that this means that any return, no matter how short, resets the portability 'clock' to zero, i.e. the person will again have 26 weeks before proportional rate applies, and if the departure is temporary (i.e. the person is still an Australian resident) then add-ons will be payable for a further 26 weeks.  However, Australian resident status would be in question if the pattern of travel suggests the person is actually residing overseas (e.g. a pattern of long absences with continual short returns).  Although this has no effect on the main pension payment (as these do not require continuing residence for qualification), it would mean that add-ons were not payable and cards could not be issued, either inside Australia or within the first 26 weeks of each absence.

For customers paid under Agreements, the rules will not change, except that customers paid the “in-Australia” direct-deduction rate under UK or NZ and who are departing temporarily will be paid add-ons (where qualified)  during the first 26 weeks of the absence.  (Note that pensions paid under UK and NZ Agreements are only portable for temporary absences, and should be cancelled immediately if departure is permanent — this is the same as at present.)

For both autonomous and Agreement customers departing to NZ, there will be no change to the rules, except that customers who are departing temporarily will be paid add-ons  during the first 26 weeks of the absence, where the main pension remains payable.  (Note that these pensions are not portable at all to NZ if departure is permanent — this is the same as at present.)

Savings for people overseas immediately before 20/9/2000

Requirement ID: PS011Version:1.0Date of Last Update: 8/12/1999

Priority: HighImportance: Mandatory Contact: Denise Moser, x222747

Requirement Title: Maintain most old rules for certain pension customers who were overseas immediately before 20/9/2000 and who do not return to Australia for at least 26 weeks. Maintain most old rules for other customers until return.

Description:

Rules:

Age, DSP, wife, widow B and BvA: Autonomous age, DSP, wife, widow B and BvA customers who are overseas immediately before 20/9/2000 may have portability advantages under the existing rules, when compared with the new rules.  Such advantages include:

  • having 12 months after departure before cancellation or proportionalisation occurs;
  • long-term portability for non-severely-disabled DSP cases who were granted before 12/11/1991 (i.e. were granted under the Invalid Pension rules);
  • certain cases being exempt from proportional rate; and
  • using the partner's WLR if proportional.

They will be “saved” and continue to use all these old rules unless and until they return to Australia for at least 26 weeks.

They will, however:

  • have the new rules about abolition of Departure Certificates applied (see PS013);
  • be subject to the proportional rate limiter ceiling (see PS012) although they will continue to use the partner's WLR if appropriate;
  • continue to be paid a rate without add-ons;
  • be able to use the discretion to extend portability if only portable for a limited period (see PS016); and
  • no longer need 6-monthly overseas reviews (see PS018).

Cases will need to have an identifying code to indicate that they are a “saved overseas immediately before 20/9/2000” case.  While the code is present, the customer must have all the existing pre-20/9/2000 rules applied (except that they will no longer need a departure certificate for a new departure after 20/9/2000, will no longer need a review 6 months after departure, and will be able to use the discretionary extension provisions).  This includes cases where the customer has returned to Australia, but has left again within 26 weeks.  This means, for example, that a customer who is “saved overseas immediately before 20/9/2000” can return to Australia for less than 26 weeks and on re-departure, his/her pension will not cancel, or rate proportionalise, (whichever is appropriate) until 12 months after the last-occurring departure from Australia.  It does not matter how many times the customer returns to Australia then returns overseas; the savings provision will continue provided each return is less than 26 weeks.

If the customer returns to Australia, the “saved overseas immediately before 20/9/2000” indicator must be deleted 26 weeks after the date of return, if the customer is still in Australia.  This will mean the new rules are applied if the person later departs Australia.

Customers who return to Australia must be paid PhA, RA if qualified, and be issued concession cards only if their Country of Residence is Australia, i.e. they have not ceased to be  an Australian resident while overseas (or if their Country of Residence is changed to Australia, if they were previously resident elsewhere — though this would be very unlikely).  They must be paid RAA only if resident in a remote area.  They must be paid  TAL (if qualified, i.e. “subscriber”) while physically in Australia. If a customer is physically in Australia but is not a resident of Australia, then cards cannot be issued and PhA, RA and RAA cannot be paid.  The rate must cease to be proportional (if it was so) from the date of return.

If they re-depart while still “saved overseas immediately before 20/9/2000” (i.e. within 26 weeks) they will not  receive PhA, RA, RAA and TAL (where qualified) even  if that subsequent departure is temporary (see PS021).  All existing pre-20/9/2000 rules apply to period of portability and rate (note that the rate limiter will have applied from 1/8/2000) .  However, in common with all other pension departures, “saved” cases will no longer require Departure Certificates (or six-months overseas reviews) and will be able to have a limited period of portability extended under the discretionary provisions.

None of the existing pre-20/9/2000 proportional portability “savings” can be allowed to be recorded if the “saved overseas on 20/9/2000” indicator is not present.

The above savings may apply to autonomous customers who are in New Zealand on 20/9/2000, either because they are within the allowed temporary period in NZ or because they are  one of the rare cases paid for permanent absence in NZ, because NZ has rejected their claim.

The above savings do not apply to Agreement customers, paid under any Agreement, because their portability provisions are governed by the Agreement.

Note that ex-SPP PPS long-term overseas customers (saved under previous rules) remain saved under their own provisions (see PS005).  This savings provision must not be allowed on any new PPS cases (i.e. ones which depart on/after 20/9/2000), unless the Country of Residence before 20/9/2000 was not Australia.

All other payments: Other customers who were overseas immediately prior to 20/9/2000 remain on their existing conditions until return to Australia.  This means they continue on their existing allowed absence period (e.g. 3 months for NMA) and do not have add-ons incorporated into the payment from 20/9/2000.  Once they return, any subsequent absence will be assessed under the new rules.  No indicator should be necessary; it should only be necessary to maintain current rate provisions and reviews for cancellation on the date required by the previous rules.  These cases will, however, be able to have a discretionary extension applied.

Proportional rate

Requirement ID: PS012Version:1.0Date of Last Update: 8/12/1999

Priority: HighImportance: Mandatory Contact: Denise Moser, x222747

Requirement Title: Calculate the correct rate for proportional pensions, taking into account rules for working-life residence.

Description:

Rules:

See PS001 for which cases are exempt from this proportional rate, also noting that BvA cases are exempt - see PS003.  Many “saved overseas before 20/9/2000” cases are also exempt from proportional rate under existing rules (see PS011).  If exempt from proportionalisation, use the normal rate calculation, noting that any listed foreign pension (or half the combined foreign pension in partnered cases) from an Agreement country is not proportionalised in the calculation, even if it is proportionalised in the partner's calculation because that partner's rate is proportional.

The rate limiter ceiling is being implemented from 1/8/2000 for both autonomous and Agreement proportional cases.  It is included here for completeness, along with all existing rules, and rules (such as the 40% taper) which will be implemented before 20/9/2000.

This requirement describes the proportional rate to be paid to most indefinitely  portable autonomous pension customers from 26 weeks after departure, if they are not “saved overseas before 20/9/2000” cases.   The proportion used is based on the customer's own WLR, including the proportion applied to appropriate Agreement country foreign pensions before the income test is done, and the rate paid is limited so it is no higher than the rate the person would receive if they had 300 months' WLR.

It also describes the rate to be paid to autonomous “saved overseas before 20/9/2000” cases. They will have already changed on 1/8/2000 to incorporate the Rate Limiter ceiling, and they do not require further change on 20/9/2000, except to include the correct proportionalisation of foreign pension in the calculation where one person is proportional and the other is either not proportional, or has a different WLR (e.g. proportional age and wife pension couple).  They:

  • continue to use the previous rules relating to partner's WLR;
  • continue to be saved from proportionalisation under the old rules where appropriate (see PS011); and
  • are only paid the proportional rate described in this Requirement from 12 months after departure.

Note that this rate calculation must be done separately and individually for each member of a couple.  This is because the affecting income amount will be different where each has a different WLR (or one is not proportional) and there is a listed Agreement country foreign pension present.

  1. Determine the appropriate WLR (in months): if “saved overseas before 20/9/2000” indicator is present, use the WLR determined under existing rules.  Otherwise, use the person's own WLR.
  2. Determine the WLR factor by dividing the result of step 1 by 300.
  3. For blind age or DSP pensioners, direct-deduct periodic compensation (if applicable) from the appropriate maximum rate, then multiply the result by the person's WLR factor. This is the person's proportional rate.
  4. For all other cases, where partnered, add all basic amounts of (and existing non-exempt components of Netherlands or Italian) foreign pensions of types Age, Invalid, Survivor's or Widow's from Italy
  5. Multiply the result of step 4 by the WLR factor (from step 2).
  6. If partnered, combine all other assessable income and halve.  If not partnered, add all other assessable income.
  7. Add the results of step 5 and step 6.
  8. Subtract the applicable (partnered or single, and amounts if any for dependants) allowable income amount from the result of step 7.
  9. Multiply the result of step 8 by 4/10ths (40% taper).
  10. Direct-deduct periodic compensation (if applicable) from the appropriate maximum rate , then subtract the result of step 9.
  11. Multiply the result of step 10 by the WLR factor (from step 2).
  12. Perform steps 4 through 11 using a WLR factor of 1 (300/300ths).
  13. Take the lower of the results of steps 11 and 12.
  14. Perform the usual assets test on the applicable maximum rate, also direct-deducting any periodic compensation (if applicable).
  15. Proportionalise the result of step 14 by the WLR factor (from step 2).
  16. Take the lower of the results of steps 13 and 15: this is the person's proportional rate.

Note: No “overseas child payment” is payable to autonomous customers from 1/7/2000, under FAO changes.

Note 2: A similar “rate limiter ceiling” will apply to all Agreement proportional rates from 1/8/2000, and already applies to Italian Agreement cases.

Note 3: The Italian Agreement does not currently allow proportionalisation of its foreign pensions for autonomous or non-pensioner partners, but will do so under the Revised Italian Agreement from 1/8/2000.

Note 4: There may be additional incidental rate calculation rules (such as war widow's ceiling) to be applied.  If so, they should follow current rules.

Abolition of Departure Certificates

Requirement ID: PS013Version:1.0Date of Last Update: 8/12/1999

Priority: HighImportance: Mandatory Contact: Denise Moser, x222747

Requirement Title: Remove the requirement for Departure Certificates for age, DSP, wife, widow B and BvA pensions.

Description:

Rules:

Currently age, DSP, wife, widow B and bereavement allowance customers must be given a Departure Certificate when they notify of an intention to leave Australia.  The certificate acknowledges that the person has notified the departure, and acknowledges that they are still qualified for pension.  The “certificate” is in fact just a paragraph in the letter issued to customers who advise of departure.

Currently, if the customer is not recorded as having a Departure Certificate and the departure is detected through data-matching with DIMA departure records, the customer's pension is suspended and a review is sent to check on continuing entitlement.  If a reply is received, the case is checked to see if it was in fact portable and is still payable, and if so, restored with arrears depending on when the review was returned.  If no reply is received, the case is eventually cancelled.

From 20/9/2000, pension customers departing Australia will no longer be required to be given a Departure Certificate.  However, they will still be required to notify of their intention to depart Australia.  They will still require the same interview to determine whether their pension can be paid overseas, and if so, for how long and at what rate.  People who fail to notify departure will still be detected, although the data-match will be against records where no departure has been coded, rather than against those not recorded as having a Departure Certificate.  Matched cases will still be suspended and reviewed , with arrears depending on standard legislative rules, i.e. full arrears if it is determined that the pension was payable throughout the period.  Customers who do not reply to the review will have their pensions cancelled, with standard rights of appeal.

'Former resident' provisions

Requirement ID: PS015Version:1.0Date of Last Update: 8/12/1999

Priority: HighImportance: Mandatory Contact: Denise Moser, x222747

Requirement Title: Apply new portability rules for 'former residents'.

Description:

Rules:

Currently, autonomous customers who were Australian residents, ceased to be resident then again became residents and claimed pension (age, DSP, BvA), will have their pensions cancelled if they leave Australia (for any country, including NZ) within 12 months of the most recent return for residence, unless there are unforeseen circumstances.

For autonomous customers granted from 20/9/2000, this period will be extended to two years, and the discretion for 'unforeseen circumstances' will be removed.

Customers actually paid under Agreements are not affected by 'former resident' provisions.

This means that where a person was granted autonomous age pension, DSP or BvA before 20/9/2000 but within the last 12 months from the date of departure, and the most recent Australian residence period started within the last 12 months from the date of departure, the pension must be cancelled from date of departure, unless there were unforeseen circumstances.  Certain customers (see table) may be able to reclaim pension if going to Agreement countries (not UK or NZ), and such cases should be referred to CIS.  Processing for 'former residents' is currently manual, and it is envisaged that it will remain so for cases granted before 20/9/2000.

Where an autonomous customer was granted Age pension, DSP or BvA on or after 20/9/2000 but within the last 2 years from the date of departure, and the most recent Australian residence period started within the last 2 years from the date of departure, the pension must be cancelled from date of departure.  There is no discretion for unforeseen circumstances.  Certain customers (see table) may be able to reclaim pension if going to Agreement countries (not UK or NZ), and such cases should be referred to CIS.

Customers going to the following countries and who will be cancelled by 'former resident' provisions may be able to re-claim under Agreements, provided they are in the right category (note that all countries cover age pension, and there are no special requirements for age pension).  Note that the rate is proportional immediately the person is transferred to the Agreement, and that proportional rate cannot include add-ons.

Country

Age pension

DSP

BvA category

Italy

Yes

Severely disabled

widow or widower (male or female)

Canada

Yes

all

widow or widower (male or female)

Spain

Yes

all

female widows only

Malta

Yes

all

female widows only

Netherlands

Yes

No

No

Ireland

Yes

all

widow or widower  (male or female)

Portugal

Yes

all

female widows only

Austria

Yes

all

widow or widower  (male or female)

Cyprus

Yes

Severely disabled

widow or widower  (male or female)

Denmark

Yes

Severely disabled

No

Note that there are some further refinements of the meaning of 'widow' within Agreements, but these cannot be determined from the system and would be determined manually after the case is referred to CIS.

Deletion of 6-month overseas reviews

Requirement ID: PS018Version:1.0Date of Last Update: 8/12/1999

Priority: HighImportance: Mandatory Contact: Denise Moser, x222747

Requirement Title: Remove the requirement to review continuing cases 6 months after departure.

Description:

Rules:

Currently, all customers who are still current 6 months after departure (i.e. pensioners) are reviewed by sending a Six-Monthly Entitlement Review form.  If the form is not returned, cases are suspended then cancelled.

It is proposed to delete this processing entirely:

  • The customer's rate will change, or payment will cancel, at 26 weeks after departure, so it is no longer an appropriate time to review.
  • Customers could be misled and confused into thinking their rate change or cancellation is a result of the review.
  • Moving the review to an earlier time would be unnecessarily intrusive on the customer's privacy, as the customer has only recently been reviewed at the pre-departure interview.
  • Similarly, moving the review to a later time would be intrusive as other reviews (e.g. for vacation of home property) are conducted at 12 months after departure.
  • The existing reviews are unproductive and ineffective, leading to only 4% and 3% downward variations in the last two years.
  • More appropriate and specific reviews relating to the departure (e.g. for foreign pension receipt or for property changes) are conducted.
  • Any staff reliance on the reviews to check whether the customer has returned (an inefficient method of review, in any case) will be more than compensated for by proposed new reviews for return after stated intended return date.

From 20/9/2000, the reviews should cease to be issued, and the form discontinued. This should include removal of existing reviews on cases already overseas on 20/9/2000.

Portability of add-ons

Requirement ID: PS021Version:1.0Date of Last Update: 8/12/1999

Priority: HighImportance: Mandatory Contact: Denise Moser, x222747

Requirement Title: Apply new portability rules for PhA, RA, RAA and TAL  paid in conjunction with a payment.

Description:

Rules:

Currently, the add-ons PhA, RA, RAA and TAL are paid only (and always) when the customer's address shows that they are in Australia.  Add-ons are cancelled when the address shows the customer is overseas.

From 20/9/2000, these add-ons can be paid for the first 26 weeks of temporary absences (to any country including NZ), while the autonomous customer remains qualified for the add-on and qualified for (and payable) the main payment.

  • PhA qualifications require a person to be an Australian resident, so it must be cancelled for permanent departures, otherwise it remains payable, providing the main payment is payable, for the first 26 weeks after departure and is then cancelled (unless a discretionary extension applies).
  • RAA is only payable while located in the remote area, or for temporary absences from that remote area for up to 8 weeks.  It is thus only ever payable for a maximum of 8 weeks after departure, and must be cancelled from then (not payable for discretionary extension period as would already have been cancelled at 8 weeks).
  • RA does not technically require a person to be an Australian resident.  However, a person departing permanently would cease to reside in the “principal home” (which the new rules specify must be in Australia) as required for RA qualification, so all permanent departures cease to qualify for RA.  RA must thus be cancelled for permanent departures.  For temporary departures, RA should be cancelled after 26 weeks (unless a discretionary extension applies at the end of the 26 weeks), or when qualification otherwise ceases (e.g. rent no longer paid), whichever comes first.
  • TAL does not require a person to be an Australian resident to remain qualified, but is specified in the rules as only portable for temporary absences..  TAL must thus be cancelled for permanent departures.  For temporary departures, TAL should be cancelled after 26 weeks (unless a discretionary extension applies at the end of the 26 weeks), or when qualification otherwise ceases (e.g. no longer a subscriber), whichever comes first.

If a customer who is still an Australian resident returns to Australia, PhA should be restored immediately if they have already been cancelled (note the requirement elsewhere for records to be automatically updated to “returned” when the Expected Date of Return occurs, if 26 weeks or less after departure, which would remove any reviews to cancel add-ons).  Qualification for RA, RAA and TAL should be checked, and if qualified (paying rent etc.), these add-ons must be restored.

If customers return to Australia following a permanent absence (this can only apply to age, DSP, wife, widow B pension or BvA customers),  PhA, RA and RAA can only be paid if the customer has again become an Australian resident (i.e. the Country of Residence is changed to Australia) and is otherwise qualified (i.e. paying appropriate rent on Australian “principal home” or resident in the remote area).    However,  TAL can be paid as soon as the person is physically in Australia, provided the person is an Australian telephone subscriber (this would be unlikely, but possible, if the person has not become an Australian resident).

At present, concession card processing does not require that a person be an Australian resident (because this is not currently recorded).  However, once Life Residence is recorded, card issue should be prevented if Country of Residence is not Australia.

Customers who are "saved overseas immediately before 20/9/2000" cases can be paid add-ons while back in Australia, provided they are still Australian residents (which would be unusual).  However, on re-departure (which must have been within 26 weeks of arrival if they have retained their "saved" status), they are not to be paid add-ons.  This is because the "savings" means they are assessed under the previous rules.  (See PS011)

Add-ons must be paid, following the same rules as above, to Agreement customers paid the domestic direct-deduction rate while temporarily outside Australia, under the UK or NZ Agreements.   Note that UK and NZ Agreement customers cannot be paid at all for permanent departures (i.e. customer must be temporarily absent), so add-ons will always be payable for the first 26 weeks of the absence.

Add-ons must not be paid under any other Agreements if the customer is absent from Australia (whether that absence is temporary or permanent).  They can be paid (and cards issued) when/if such customers return to Australia only if the person is, or again becomes, an Australian resident.

If a discretionary extension applies (see PS016), add-ons other than RAA can continue for the period of the discretionary extension, provided the person remains qualified (rent still paid, still a telephone subscriber).  RAA should have already ceased at 8 weeks so cannot be extended.

1999 BUDGET INITIATIVE

COMPARABLE FOREIGN PAYMENT

REQUIREMENTS WILL BE EXTENDED TO

NON-AGREEMENT COUNTRIES FROM 20/9/2000

Comparable Foreign Payments

Basic Questions And Answers At 20/3/00

Note: information which follows is subject to both the approval

of Parliament and decisions involving policy discretion.

Associated documents are to be found at

http ://centrenet/homepage/aso/tasmania/cis/policy/projects.htm:

Complex Comparable Foreign Payment Questions And Answers

Amnesty On Foreign Pension Income Questions And Answers

Contact is:Mark Hey

International Services Hobart

Telephone x222815

COMPARABLE FOREIGN PAYMENTS (CFP)

Basic Questions And Answers At 20/3/00

1.Why claim foreign pension?

At the present time over $670 million in foreign age pensions is received in Australia  from Agreement countries each year. This amount will continue to increase as new  grants are processed and it is expected an additional $45 million will be received each  year.  These additional funds will further reduce welfare outlays in this country by at  least $7 million per annum.

Expanding CFP to non-Agreement countries should bring an additional $60 million of foreign pensions into the country which it is expected will further reduce welfare outlays by at least $10 million.

2.What are CFP provisions?

The CFP provisions state a customer who may have an entitlement to a foreign pension must take reasonable action to obtain the payment at the highest available rate from the overseas country.

CFP provisions presently only apply to foreign pension entitlement from Agreement countries, but from 20/9/00 will extend to non-Agreement countries as well.

CFP Provisions are covered by the Social Security Administration Act. (Refer to Section 66)

3.What are Agreement and non-Agreement countries?

Agreement countries are those countries that have signed an agreement with Australia in relation to social security matters. Under the agreement customers living in one country can claim a pension from the other country. They can also use residence from               either country to qualify for payments.

Australia has agreements with Austria, Canada, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, and will begin an agreement with Denmark from 20/9/00.

A non-Agreement country is one that Australia does not have an agreement with, although negotiations have commenced with some, such as Chile and Germany.

4.What is meant by extending the CFP provisions?

At present, the CFP provisions only apply to customers receiving specified Australian payments who may have an entitlement to a pension from an Agreement country.

Legislative changes will extend CFP to include customers who have an entitlement to a pension from a non-Agreement country.  This means that customers will be required to take reasonable action to obtain a pension from any country not just agreement countries.

5.When will the extended CFP provisions start?

Extended CFP provisions will start from 20/9/00.

From that date, customers claiming any CFP affected Australian payment type will be asked where they have lived and worked during their life, and their response will be entered on their computer record - on a new Country Of Residence (CRES) screen.

Potential eligibility to a foreign retirement pension from each overseas country of residence will be investigated through the registration and screening processes in the Foreign Pensions System (FPS) in a similar way as occurs for Agreement countries.

6.Which customers are affected by the extended CFP provisions?

Only customers and their partners of Australian Age Pension age are affected by the extended CFP provisions for non-Agreement countries.

Customers who claim or receive any of the following Australian payments are affected by the extended CFP provisions:

age pensionwife pension

disability support pensioncarer payment

widow B pensionspecial needs pension

parenting payment singleparenting payment partnered

widow allowancebereavement allowance

Also under the new provisions, if one member of a couple is claiming one of the  above listed payments and they are under age pension age, but their partner is over age pension age, the partner must take action even though they are not claiming a payment in Australia.

The extended CFP provisions only require the customer to take action to claim a retirement pension from overseas, but enquiries may be received from some  customers who may wish to claim other payments.

.7.What happens if the customer fails to take CFP action?

Customers that are issued with a written notice advising them to claim a foreign pension, but fail to take the appropriate action without an acceptable reason, can have their claim for Australian payment rejected, or if in receipt of payment,  cancelled or suspended. (Refer to Section 82 of the Social Security Administration Act 1999.)

8.Are there reasons for not applying CFP?

Yes, there are reasons when the extended CFP provisions need not be applied.

Some examples are as follows

insufficient contributions;

the person left the foreign country at a young age;

the customer is elderly and over 80;

the person is a refugee;

the person is infirm, ill, or living in a nursing home;

the person would only receive a small non-affecting foreign pension; or

the person fears persecution.

Some non-Agreement countries will not accept a pension claim from a person living in Australia.  Therefore customers from these countries will also not be expected to pursue a claim.

Other countries will accept a claim for foreign pension, but will not allow payment to be taken out of that country.  Again in these cases the provisions will not apply.

If a country will only permit pension payments to be made to an account within that country, but the customer can transfer funds to Australia, then the CFP rules apply.

When a customer asks to have CFP action waived, the CSO should fully investigate the case, explain the advantages to the customer of additional pension income from overseas and only then make the decision to proceed or not.

9.What types of foreign pensions are Comparable Foreign Payments?

With the extended CFP provisions for non-Agreement countries, it is only required that retirement or age pensions be pursued.

10.What information will be available to staff about foreign pensions?

Research into the pensions paid by all overseas countries is being tabulated into an online facility accessible through the International Services Centrenet home page.

Details of the qualifications for pensions, how payment is made, whether a claim will be accepted from someone living in Australia, and where the customer needs to go to obtain foreign claim papers are all included.

Staff will be assisted by the screening process within the Foreign Pensions System which will be enhanced to include the business rules for all non-Agreement countries.

11.How can a claim be lodged for a pension from a non-Agreement country?

Claims for non-Agreement country pensions commence with registration in the Foreign Pensions System.  Claims from customers who do not receive an Australian payment are also registered in this system.  Registration involves completing the Foreign Claim Details (FCD) screen which from 20/9/00 will need the same data entered as applies now with Agreement countries.

After registration, inbuilt screening rules will be applied and the user will be taken to the Foreign Claim Assessment Results (FCAR) screen where the system will default a foreign claim status - there will be a new status called Request Issued (RQI).

Once the activity is finalised, a BLA letter will be sent to the customer including a "request for foreign claim papers" proforma to complete and return to Centrelink International Services (CIS).  Staff there will update the status to Request Sent Overseas (RSO) and post the “request for foreign claim papers" to the overseas country.

It will be the responsibility of the overseas country and the customer to have the claim completed, and for the customer to notify CIS of the outcome of the claim.

12.Will existing customers be affected by the extended CFP provisions?

All existing customers of age pension age who receive a specified type of Australian payment at 20/9/00 are affected by the extended CFP provisions.

65,000 existing customers born in non-Agreement countries will be sent a letter in late September 2000, advising them of the extended CFP provisions and their obligation to claim a foreign pension. All customers included in the mail out will be obliged to respond.  A special task force is being set-up in CIS to handle the replies.

If an existing customer from a non-Agreement country is not in the mail out, but is identified as having potential entitlement to a foreign retirement pension, a CFP notice may be issued and the person will become subject to the extended provisions.

13.Who will action foreign claim reviews?

All action and enquiries associated with the special mail out to the 65,000 customers will be handled by the task force at CIS.

Registration of most foreign claims for Agreement and non-Agreement countries will continue to take place in Customer Service Centres and Call Centres as part of the Admission Procedures associated with claiming a specified Australian payment.

From 20/9/00 all foreign claim reviews will be referred electronically to CIS for action. Reviews for Package Issued (PKI) and Future Entitlement (FUT), which               presently go to the Customer Service Centre for action, will be redirected to CIS.

1999 BUDGET INITIATIVE

COMPARABLE FOREIGN PAYMENT

REQUIREMENTS WILL BE EXTENDED TO

NON-AGREEMENT COUNTRIES FROM 20/9/2000

Amnesty on Foreign Pension Income

Questions And Answers At 20/3/00

Note: information in this document is subject to both the approval of Parliament and

decisions involving policy discretion, and is only to be viewed by Centrelink staff.

Associated documents are to be found at centrenet/homepage/aso/tasmania/cis/policy/projects.htm:

Basic Comparable Foreign Payment Questions And Answers

Complex Comparable Foreign Payment Questions And Answers

Contact is:Mark Hey

International Services Hobart

Telephone x222815

AMNESTY ON FOREIGN PENSION INCOME

Questions And Answers At 20/3/00

1.What is an amnesty?

An amnesty is a period of time during which a customer can voluntarily declare undisclosed or under declared foreign pension income and be immune from either overpayment or prosecution action.

2.Why have an amnesty?

The are several reasons why we should have an amnesty at this time.

Firstly, because we know some customers receive undisclosed foreign pension  pension income. If these customers can be enticed to reveal this income, valuable future welfare savings under the income test can be achieved. Also some customers can inadvertently fail to declare income, and giving them the chance to do so without penalty is less stressful, particularly for those who are aged.

The second reason is that from past experience, we know that negotiations with some countries in relation to new agreements, have not succeeded because the overseas country did not want to respond to direct questions about pensions paid to individual ex-citizens now in Australia and being paid by Centrelink.

Because an amnesty allows customers to declare income without penalty, it alleviates the need to ask pertinent questions of the overseas countries, which may result in more profitable talks.

An amnesty is designed to help both the organisation and the customer and is particularly relevant with the extension of the CFP rules to non-Agreement countries.

3.When will the amnesty be available?

The amnesty will apply for a fixed period of four months from 20/9/00 to 19/1/01 inclusive. In order to gain the amnesty, customers must voluntarily declare specified foreign pension income within the stipulated period.

Provided that the declaration is received by Centrelink within the 4 month period, the decision to grant the amnesty can be made after the amnesty period ends.

4.Who will be able to receive the amnesty?

Customers who receive any Australian payment type will be eligible for the amnesty.

For partnered couples, if one party declares foreign pension income and is granted the  amnesty, then the partner will also be automatically covered by the amnesty.

If a customer is in receipt of more than one Australian payment any declaration of foreign pension income under the amnesty will apply to all payments received.

5.What types of income are covered by the amnesty?

Only foreign pension income received but not advised, or previously declared but now received at a higher rate is covered by the amnesty.  This applies whether the income is received from an Agreement or non-Agreement country. (The amnesty is restricted to foreign pension income because it is part of a broader initiative to extend the CFP provisions to all non-Agreement countries.)

Foreign pension income includes all overseas income support payments such as age pension, invalidity pension, widow pension, survivor pension and restitution payment.

It also includes other forms of foreign income such as service pension, annuities and superannuation as in other countries these are in the nature of an income security or age pension payment in that the customer has contributed financially and the scheme is administered by Government regulation.

Income received by way of earnings, investment interest, dividends from shares and returns from real estate and the like will definitely not be covered by the amnesty.

It is important that customers are fully aware that only foreign pension income is covered by the amnesty, so that if they declare other income that is excluded they are aware of the consequences of their declaration.

6.When can the amnesty be advertised?

Advertising of the amnesty will commence after the Minister makes her press statement on or about 20/9/00.  The reason for this is to avoid customers prematurely declaring income they believe would be covered by the amnesty, when in fact they could end up with not only an overpayment, but also prosecution action because the amnesty has not commenced.

Information about the amnesty will also be sent to customers already overseas.  The  intention at this stage is to send them a CFP letter plus an insert with their cheque payments which will arrive with customers after the start of the amnesty period.

Although the advertising will not commence untill after the Minister's statement, some people will already know about the amnesty from press releases issued at the time of the 1999 budget.  Therefore if anyone contacts Centrelink for additional information staff should ensure the person is aware of the dates of the amnesty and the type of income covered.

7.What procedures will apply with the amnesty?

Customers who declare receipt of foreign pension income can have the amnesty applied without the need for a formal application.

All amnesty cases should be processed in the same way using a script being written for this purpose.  The script will document the events on the customer record, produce an OLA letter for issue to the customer as a receipt and add foreign pension income details to the assessment.

All customers will be notified in writing that the amnesty has been applied and that any overpayment or prosecution action has been waived.

8.Which Centrelink staff will process the amnesty?

The majority of the amnesty processing will be associated with customers included in the CFP mail out.  This work will be handled by CIS where a hotline will operate to answer customer queries. CIS will also assist Call Centres and Customer Service Centres by answering amnesty calls transferred to the hotline from other parts of               Centrelink.

The actual processing of foreign pension income advised under the amnesty will be actioned by staff in the Call Centres and Customer Service Centres who receive the original advice from the customer.  The reason for this, is that customers have a such a wide range of avenues to advise Centrelink of any foreign pension income received eg review forms, telephone calls and office visits, it would not be practical to centralise the processing of the amnesty.

9.Will Agreement country embargo recovery continue during the amnesty period?

During the amnesty period it is intended that normal Agreement country embargo recovery procedures continue.  (This work is actioned by CIS.)

There will, however, be an exception to this, where the customer declares the grant of an Agreement pension before the overseas country advises CIS.  If this situation should arise, the person will be eligible for the amnesty and the embargo recovery action will not take place.

10.What if a customer declares foreign pension and other income simultaneously?

If a customer declares foreign pension and other income at the same time, the amnesty must be applied to each type of income individually and only granted to the foreign pension income.  This is because other types of income are ineligible to be amnestied and               therefore normal overpayment and prosecution rules apply.

11.Will the amnesty be advised in the letter to be sent to CFP mail out customers?

Information about the amnesty will be included in a letter sent in late September 2000 to the 65,000 customers selected for the CFP mail out. It is expected that about 4,000 of these customers will immediately disclose previously undeclared foreign pension income.

(NB all processing of amnesty work associated with responses from these customers  to be handled by a special task force in CIS.)

12.What role do past false income declarations by customers play in the amnesty?

In the previous amnesty in 1989/90, customers who had made false declarations about their overseas income were ineligible for the amnesty, but with the amnesty from 20/9/00, previous false declarations are totally irrelevant.

Customers who chose not to declare foreign pension income in the 1989/90 amnesty are still covered by the provisions of the new amnesty.

13.What happens if undeclared foreign pension income is notified on a review form?

Ongoing review processing will continue during the amnesty period. Any foreign pension income declared on a review form, even those reviews generated by Centrelink, must have the amnesty provisions applied, if the form is returned within the amnesty period.

14.What happens if undeclared foreign pension income is uncovered by a staff enquiry?

If Centrelink investigation staff uncover undisclosed foreign pension income, then the amnesty will not be applied.  This is because the customer must have voluntarily disclosed the income to be eligible for the amnesty.

If staff person suspects a customer receives foreign pension income and they ask the customer who then agrees they receive the income, then the amnesty does not apply as voluntary declaration is not seen to have taken place.

15.Will it be necessary to calculate amnesty overpayments?

No, it will not be necessary for staff to calculate or estimate any overpayments in relation to foreign pension income declared under the amnesty.

16.What monitoring of the amnesty is proposed?

During and after the amnesty period, the amount of activity will be monitored using SAS based programming which will access information recorded by the amnesty script.

The information obtained will be the name of country paying the foreign pension income, type and amount of income declared plus the effect on the Australian payment.

Area project coordinators will be provided with the data obtained from this process.

17.What advice about the amnesty will be provided to overseas customers?

Overseas customers will have an insert about the amnesty placed with their overseas cheques to be issued for payday 28/9/00.  This is because these customers are less likely to have access to publicity in relation to the amnesty and are more likely to be receiving foreign pension than domestic customers.

In addition, included in the 65,000 customers selected for the CFP mail out letter, there will be approximately 10,000 overseas cases.

18.Will previously undeclared assets be covered by the amnesty?

No - undeclared or under declared assets are not covered by the amnesty.

19.What is the position with legislation in relation to the amnesty?

An amnesty provision is included in the Social Security And Veterans Entitlements Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Matters) Bill 2000 introduced in Parliament in early March 2000.

Debate is expected in early April 2000.

Click here to view a copy of the Bill

20.How should amnestied foreign pension income be handled in arrears calculations?

If arrears need to be calculated for a period prior to when the customer advised they were receiving foreign pension income, you would expect that the income would be included in the calculations.

However in these cases, even though Centrelink now knows that the customer was receiving foreign pension for a past period, the provisions of the amnesty prevent the foreign income from being included in arrears calculations for any period prior to               when the foreign pension was declared.

This means foreign pension income that has been amnestied can only be included in any arrears calculations from the time it was declared and placed in the assessment.

The same will also apply to ongoing overpayment calculations.  Amnestied foreign pension income can only be included in the assessment from the time the income was advised by the customer, even though the customer has received this income for quite some time.

21.Will the social security amnesty extend to taxation?

No, the amnesty is a social security amnesty and covers only overpayments of the Australian social security rate.

However, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will support the CFP initiative.  To help taxpayers voluntarily comply with the law, ATO is prepared to waive tax shortfall penalties which ordinarily apply to income that was not previously declared.

There is also a general interest charge which, effectively, is designed to cover the time value of money due to tax being paid late.  This interest charge will apply to foreign pensions declared under the amnesty, but taxpayers will be able to apply for remission of the interest charge in accordance with normal ATO rulings and practices.

Where people report foreign pensions under the social security amnesty, ATO would only expect the income to be declared for the year ended 30 June 1999 and the year ending on 30 June 2000.

22.Where will the delegation lie to decide the amnesty?

An answer to this question is yet to be provided by FaCs, but we expect that the Customer Service Officer who services the customer, should be able to finalise any amnesty cases.

23.What can be said to people who disagree with the concept of an amnesty?

If you are talking to a customer who disagrees with the amnesty, the following points may address their concerns:

Because some customers have inadvertently failed to declare their foreign pension income the amnesty now gives them an opportunity to do so without penalty.

The income declared under the amnesty will reduce some Australian payment rates, which means ongoing savings in Government welfare outlays.

Some of the customers who have undeclared foreign pension income are elderly and the prospects of full recovery of overpaid monies will be very limited.

As part of a wider income security reform, the amnesty is an important aspect of negotiating with overseas countries in relation to new social security  greements.  These agreements make it easier for people to claim foreign  pensions, increase the level of foreign exchange into Australia, reduce total Government welfare outlays, and stimulate economic activity in Australia.

24.Will a penalty apply under the failure to notify rules?

We expect that if a customer declares foreign pension income and has the amnesty granted, it is unlikely that an administrative breach or penalty will be applied, but as yet this has not been confirmed by FaCS.

25.Will a debt need to be calculated to apply waiver provisions under the amnesty?

FaCS are still documenting the precise nature of the amnesty and as yet the waiver process is still to be decided.  However, any amount overpaid as a consequence of foreign pension income being declared, will not need to be calculated nor estimated.

26.What happens with youth allowance if the parent is granted the amnesty?

FaCs have yet to advise what will happen with cases where a parent declares foreign pension income and is granted the amnesty, and then the same income is used for the assessment of Youth Allowance for their dependent child.

27.How does the amnesty affect the Seniors Health Card?

FaCS are still examining the implications for customers in receipt of Seniors Health Cards.  However, it is expected that the likely outcome will be, that customers whose income is above the limit will not be entitled to the card as per existing procedures.

28.Can a decision to waive overpayment recovery under the amnesty be changed?

Once the amnesty is granted in relation to foreign pension income and the decision made not to recover any overpaid amount, the decision cannot be changed under any circumstances, even it is later found that the information had previously been advised and not actioned by the office.

29.What date of effect should be recorded?

The date of effect to be used on the system, must be one that will not cause debt recovery action to commence, once the amnesty is granted in respect of an item of foreign pension income.

30.Who has to declare the foreign pension income?

Foreign pension income must be declared by the person actually receiving the income, or a bone fide nominee. In partnered cases, the party receiving the income must make the voluntary declaration, and not their spouse.