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B39/1991 REVISED DATA COLLECTION AND NOTIFICATION PROVISIONS
DATE OF ISSUE: 05 August 1991
REVISED DATA COLLECTION AND NOTIFICATION PROVISIONS
On 15 May 1991, Commission approved a submission that revises the guidelines on the collection of data relating to service pensions and the notification provisions placed on service pensioners under s127 of the VEA.
2.Until Commission approved this submission no formal guidelines had been issued on the collection of information on PIPS or on the minimum amount of change that is required before a pensioner must advise the Department of that change. The lack of guidelines in this area have led to a number of different interpretations of S127. This submission was aimed at gaining consistency between the States to ensure that all pensioners are treated equally. It also brings DVA's notification provisions into line with those of the Department of Social Security.
3.The need to data collect the amount of cash held by a pensioner was highlighted by the introduction of the Deeming Provisions in March this year. Cash is defined in s5H(i) of the VEA as ""available money" ... means money held by, or on behalf of, the person, but does not include money on deposit ...". Prior to the introduction of the Deeming Provisions very few pensioners declared cash in their pension assessment.
4.The Deeming data collection exercise requested details of any cash in excess of $500.00. However, to ensure that service pensioners are not disadvantaged when compared to age pensioners, the Commission has agreed to increase this amount to $1000.00.
5.This means that only amounts of cash that are in excess of $1000.00 are to be held in pension assessment. Amounts of less than $1000.00 should be removed from assessment as cases come to light in the normal review process.
6.Currently, income variations of as little as 10 cents per fortnight are being processed by some States, while other States only process those variations that result in a change of at least $2.00. To improve efficiency and reduce delays in processing reviews, Commission has approved new guidelines for the processing of reviews.
7.Pensioners should be discouraged from notifying the Department of changes in income that result in a variation of less than $2.00 per fortnight or $100.00 per year.
8.However, pensioners will not be prevented from advising changes, in particular, those resulting in an increase in the rate of pension of less than $2.00 per fortnight.
9.At the present time pensioners who are assessed under the assets test receive the same obligation advice as income tested pensioners. That is, they must advise the Department of any change of circumstances within fourteen days.
10.Following Commission's approval, assets tested pensioners are now required to advise the Department only when they acquire new assets or dispose of existing assets. As assets tested pensioners are reviewed on an annual basis, they are no longer required to advise the Department of any other change in circumstances. All changes, other than the acquisition or disposal of assets will be recorded at the time of the annual review.
11.As indicated above, pensioners will be discouraged from notifying the Department of minor changes. The Benefits Advices System has been modified to reflect this philosophy.
12.Maximum rate pensioners are now advised that they should not contact the Department unless their change of circumstances results in income or assets exceeding the Free Areas.
13.Income tested pensioners will be advised that they must tell the Department when their income varies by more than $100.00 per year or $2.00 per fortnight.
14.Asset tested pensioners will be advised that they must tell the Department if they gain or dispose of an asset and that they do not need to advise the Department when the value of an existing asset changes.
15.In summary, the revised data collection and notification provisions are as follows:
.that only amounts of cash that exceed $1000.00 be recorded in pension assessment;
.that pensioners are no longer required to advise the Department of changes in circumstances unless income varies by more than $100.00 per year or $2.00 per fortnight.
.that asset tested pensioners must advise the Department of the acquisition or disposal of any new assets.
NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR