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Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986
Stated Current Purpose/Intent
To provide all service pensioners and income support supplement recipients with assistance, additional to their assessed rate of pension.
Current Eligibility Criteria
All service pensioners and income support supplement recipients are eligible for all Commonwealth concessions.
Date of Introduction
Fringe benefits were first introduced in 1936. With effect from 1 April 1993, the special fringe benefits income and assets tests were abolished. From that date, all service pensioners became eligible for the full range of Commonwealth concessions and were issued with a Pensioner Concession Card (PCC).
Pensioner concessions provide service pensioners with assistance of a non-cash nature, which is additional to their assessed rate of pension. These benefits have been generally defined by the General Orders Service Pension as “any good or service, or assistance towards purchasing a good or service, which is available on concessional terms to pensioners, beneficiaries and/or people with limited means but which is not generally available on concessional terms to everyone in the community.”
Pensioner concessions are made available by Commonwealth, State, Territory and local governments. Certain private organisations such as theatres, cinemas, clubs and sporting associations also offer pensioner discounts.
Once a pensioner is eligible for pensioner concessions, he or she becomes eligible, through the Commonwealth, for the following:
- concessions under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme;
- subsidised products from the National Diabetes Services;
- concessional hearing aid services;
- fare reductions for travel on Great Southern Railways where an extended journey involves both State and National railway lines; and
- postal redirection concessions.
Concessions provided by State, Territory, and local governments vary from place to place but commonly include:
- rebates on municipal rates and water, gas and electricity charges;
- transport concessions on State or Territory rail, bus, ferry and tram services;
- reductions in drivers' licence fees and motor vehicle registration charges;
- rebates on third party motor vehicle insurance premiums in some cases;
- exemption from stamp duty; and
- free ambulance services.
Dependants of pensioner concession card holders, who are listed on the card, are eligible for concessions under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and may be eligible for a range of other concessions offered by state and territory governments.
Significant Changes in Criteria or Purpose Since Introduction
Primarily, changes have been the result of changes to the former means test and then the introduction of the income and assets tests.
A fringe benefits means limit was introduced with the tapered means test. (The fringe benefits limit was equivalent to the service pension limit prior to the introduction of the tapered means test).
The assets test for fringe benefits was introduced.
A "period of grace" was introduced for pensioners who lost their eligibility for fringe benefits but whose private income rose by no more than 25% of the fringe benefits cut-off levels. This provision allowed these veterans to retain their eligibility for fringe benefits for a period of 13 weeks from the date of cancellation.
Saving provisions, for pensioners who lost fringe benefits due to deeming provisions, were introduced.
The income and assets tests for fringe benefits were abolished and fringe benefits were extended to all service pensioners from 1 April 1993. These pensioners were issued with a Pensioner Health Benefits (PHB) Card and became eligible for the full range of non-DVA Commonwealth fringe benefits including concessions on the cost of pharmaceutical prescriptions, subsidised products from National Diabetes Service, free hearing aids through the Australian Hearing Services, concessional travel on Australian National Railways and postal redirection concessions.
The PCC replaced the PHB and Pensioner Benefits Concession (PBC) Cards.
Concessions applied to income support supplement recipients.