C54/2002 Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Act (No.1) 2002 | Compensation and Support Reference Library, Departmental Instructions, 2002

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C54/2002 Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Act (No.1) 2002

Document

DATE OF ISSUE:  6 DECEMBER 2002

Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Act (No.1) 2002

Purpose

This departmental instruction provides information about the minor and technical amendments contained in the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1) 2002 (VALA No. 1 2002).

VALA No. 1 2002 includes six schedules which contain measures relating to income support matters:

Schedule 1 – amendments to the Social Security Act 1991, which are consequential to the introduction of Income Support Supplement (ISS) payments under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 in 1994;

Schedule 2 – amendments to the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 which are also consequential to the introduction of ISS payments;

Schedule 3 – amendments to the Aged Care (Consequential Provisions) Act 1997 clarifying the definition of principal home for the purposes of the assets test, and the determination of a couple as a respite care couple;

Schedule 4 – a technical amendment to the Social Security and Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Family and Other Measures) Act 1997 in respect of the definition of rent;

Schedule 5 – technical amendments to the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Budget and Compensation Measures) Act 1997; and

Schedule 6 – minor and technical amendments to the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

The technical amendments contained in Schedule 7 do not relate to income support matters.

Link to
VALA 1 2002

The link to VALA No 1 2002 is available through the Scaleplus web site situated at: http://scaleplus.law.gov.au/

Commencement Dates

The date of commencement for Schedules 1 and 2 is 6 September 2002, being the date of Royal Assent.

The date of commencement for Schedule 3 is 20 September 1998, being the date immediately after the commencement date of the Aged Care (Consequential Provisions) Act 1997.

The date of commencement of Schedule 4 is 1 January 1998, being the date immediately after Schedule 19 to the Social Security and Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Family and Other Measures) Act 1997 commenced.

The date of commencement of Schedule 5 is 3 November 1997 (first amendment), and 20 September 1998 (second amendment).

The date of commencement of the items contained in Schedule 6 vary, generally being either the date of Royal Assent, or the date immediately after the various Acts amended by Schedule 6 came into effect.

The commencement date of the individual amendment items contained in VALA No 1 2002 can be confirmed by reference to Clause 2 of the Act (Commencement), as shown on the Scaleplus web site.

Details of changes

Details of the changes contained in the six schedules to the Act are attached.

Contact

For further information in relation to the above mentioned changes please contact Brian Butler, Income Support Policy Section, on (02) 6289 6110.

Authorised by

Jeanette Ricketts

Atg Branch Head

INCOME SUPPORT

5 December 2002


index

Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Act (No.1) 2002......................................

1.Amendment of the Social Security Act 1991.........................................4

2. Amendment of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999.............................6

3. Amendment of the Aged Care (Consequential Provisions) Act 1997..............................7

4. Amendment of the Social Security and Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Family

    and Other Measures) Act 1997...................................................9

5. Amendment of the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Budget and Compensation

    Measures) Act 1997..........................................................11

6. Amendment of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986...................................12


Schedule 1 – Amendment of the Social Security Act 1991

Background

The amendments to the Social Security Act 1991 are consequential to the introduction of the payment of Income Support Supplement (ISS) under the VEA in 1995.

Issue

At the time of introduction of ISS payments in 1995, the Social Security Act 1991 (the SSA) was amended to prevent a war widow/er from receiving a social security payment (unless they elected to do so).  Other consequential changes to the SSA relating to ISS have also since been made.  However, the overall position is that the required consequential amendments to the SSA are not yet complete.  This situation has resulted in some anomalies arising, occasionally requiring that Centrelink approve "Act of Grace" payments to rectify.  An example is where a person has been ruled ineligible to receive a bereavement payment under the SSA, on the basis that ISS is not a qualifying partner payment.

Legislative changes

Schedule 1 contains 111 amendments, which give effect to all the remaining consequential amendments that are required to the SSA, in respect of ISS payments.

Most amendments take the form of –

  • Adding the phrase “or income support supplement” after the words “service pension” already appearing in the SSA; or

  • Adding the word “supplement” after the word “pension” already appearing in the SSA.

The amendments generally fall into the following categories –

  • References to ISS payments are now included within the definitions contained within the SSA, such as family relationship, income test, financial asset and income stream, assessable period, pensioner couple, asset test, social security recipient status, and payday;

  • One substantive change is that the income test definition within the SSA now excludes ISS payments;

Legislative changes cont
  • ISS is now a qualifying payment for a surviving partner to receive a bereavement payment, and for continued pension payments on the death of a partner;

  • The multiple entitlement exclusion provisions of the SSA now provide that social security payments are prevented, or are cancelled, if ISS is granted;

  • ISS is included as a qualifying payment, when determining payments which establish eligibility for a partnered social security benefit;

  • ISS is added to the eligible VEA payments which attract payment of Pensioner Education Supplement (which is required in order to make payments of Education Entry Payment);

  • The Rate Calculation Modules in the SSA now make references to ISS payment; and

  • ISS payments to a partner may establish that a person has a partner with a rent increased pension.

Systems Changes

No required systems changes have been identified.

Procedural Changes

None identified.  The consequential amendments to ISS align the Social Security Act 1991 with the VEA.

Fact Sheets/ CLIK

Required revisions will be made as identified.

Schedule 2 – Amendment of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999

Background

This Schedule amends the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (the SSAA) consequential to the introduction of ISS payments under the VEA in 1995.

Issue

The amendments give effect to all the remaining consequential amendments that are required to the SSAA, in respect of ISS payments.

Legislative changes

The amendments to the SSAA relate to –

  • The automatic cancellation of a benefit, on a person transferring to a new payment type;

  • The recognition of ISS as an eligible partnered benefit, for the purposes of suspension of disability support pension;

  • Automatic rate reductions, when a person's partner starts receiving a new benefit; and

  • The date of effect calculations, on the death of a partner.

System Changes

No required system changes have been identified.

Procedural Changes

None identified.

Fact Sheets/CLIK

No amendments required.

Schedule 3 – Amendment of the Aged Care (Consequential Provisions) Act 1997

Background

This Schedule contains two items which amend Schedule 4 of the Aged Care (Consequential Provisions) Act 1997, which itself amends the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

Issue

The two amendments are technical in nature, to correct earlier amendments which were misdescribed and which did not result in the intended amendments occurring.

Legislative changes

The first amendment relates to the definition of principal home, for the purposes of section 5L of the VEA (Assets test definition).

Paragraph 5L(7)(d) provides that a residence of a person is taken to continue to be the person's principal home during periods of care, for a period of up to two years.  Paragraph 5L(7)(d) currently states that this two-year period begins at the time when the person's partner or non-illness separated spouse “started to be in a relevant care situation”.  This is now amended to read “...started to be either in a care situation or an aged care resident”.

The effect of this amendment is to more carefully define the care circumstances during which a residence can continue to be regarded as a person's principal home.

The second amendment relates to a determination under section 5R of the VEA that a couple is a respite pair couple.

Paragraph 5R(6)(c) provides that the determination of a couple as a respite care couple can be made where one member “has entered the approved respite care...”.  This wording is now replaced with the wording “...is in respite care...”.

System changes

No required system changes have been identified.

Procedural changes

Determining staff should be aware of the revised definitions and effective starting periods.

Fact Sheets/CLIK

Amendments to the appropriate CLIK chapters and Fact Sheets will be made.

Schedule 4 – Amendment of the Social Security and Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Family and Other Measures) Act 1997

Background

This amendment changes the VEA (through a change to the above amending Act), regarding the definition of rent.

Issue

The current definition of rent in section 5N of the VEA does not allow for the payment of Rent Assistance to people who live in premises for which another person pays Government rent.  This is because the second tenant is himself regarded in these circumstances as paying subsidised government rent, and is therefore ineligible for Rent Assistance.

This amendment provides for two exempt circumstances to be recognised, which will allow Rent Assistance to be paid where a second tenant pays rent for premises for which government rent is already paid.

Legislative changes

This amendment adds a new sub-section 5N(4) to the VEA (Rent definitions).  The sub-section reads  -

  1. If a person pays, or is liable to pay, rent for living in premises in respect of which another person pays Government rent, the rent paid or payable by the person for living in those premises is taken to be Government rent, unless:

  1. the rent paid by the other person is at or above a rate that the authority receiving the rent has told the Department is the market rate; or

  1. the person shares the premises with that other person and the person's income has been taken into account in calculating the amount of Government rent payable in respect of those premises.

Legislative changes cont

That is, the sub-section allows for two exempt circumstances, where a person would be regarded as not paying Government rent.  They are (i) if the rent was at or above the market rate; or (ii) where the premises are shared and the secondary tenant's income is taken into account when calculating the amount of Government rent.

This is a beneficial change, giving some tenants greater opportunity to satisfy circumstances where they would not be regarded as paying Government rent, and would therefore be eligible for rent assistance.

System changes

No required system changes have been identified.

Procedural changes

Determining staff should be aware of the revised circumstances where a

person may be regarded as not paying Government rent, thereby being eligible for Rent Assistance.

Fact Sheets/ CLIK

Amendments to the appropriate CLIK chapters and Fact Sheets will be made.

Schedule 5 – Amendment of the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Budget and Compensation Measures) Act 1997

Background

This Schedule makes two minor technical amendments to the above Act, relating to the date of effect of a provision, and a misdescribed reference, within the VEA.

Issue

The two technical amendments correct earlier amendments which were misdescribed and which did not result in the intended amendments occurring.

Legislative changes
  • the first amendment is to sub-section 5H(8)(zm) of the VEA, which provides that advance payments of pension and ISS are excluded amounts, when determining income under the Act.  The Schedule provides that the renumbering of this sub-section as (zm) is taken to have commenced on 4 July 1996, rather than on 20 March 1996;

  • the Amendment Act omitted a note to section 56J(1) of the VEA (Pension may be cancelled at a pensioner's request).  However, this note appears following section 56J(2).  The second amendment corrects this misdescribed reference.

System changes

No required system changes have been identified.

Procedural changes

None identified.

Fact Sheets/ CLIK

None identified.

Schedule 6 – Amendment of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986

Background

This Schedule contains 89 minor and technical amendments, which correct incorrect legislative references, redundancies, omissions and typographical errors identified within the VEA.

Issue

No identified issues.

Legislative changes

General house-keeping changes made to the VEA arising out of this Schedule include:

  • the addition, repeal, and amendment of the sections dealing with definitions, including some amended references.  The new definitions primarily relate to compensation matters;
  • misdescribed references within the VEA have been corrected;
  • non-existent references have been deleted;
  • minor typographical errors, and grammatical errors, have been corrected; and
  • the wording of some Division and section headings has been changed.

More substantial changes include:

  • Income Support Supplement has been included as a payment which is covered by the disposition rule (disregard if more than 5 years old), the definition of assessable period, and the cancellation determination rule;

  • Eligibility for the Education Entry Payment has been extended to include those receiving invalidity service pension; and

  • The definition of partner with rent increased pension can now include those receiving income support supplement.

System changes

No required system changes have been identified.

Procedural changes

Determining staff should be aware of the extended eligibility for Education Entry Payment.

Fact Sheets/ CLIK

Amendments to the appropriate CLIK chapters and Fact Sheets will be made.