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C59/1997 Technical Amendments to Carer Provisions



Technical Amendments to Carer Provisions


1.  Purpose

The purpose of this Departmental Instruction is to provide background information and procedural guidelines for three technical amendments to the carer provisions in the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA).

2.  Details of the amendments
  1. Change of name of pension for carers in the Social Security Act 1991 (SSA) from carer pension to carer payment.
  2. Changes to provisions relating to the period during which a person may cease to provide care without losing eligibility for carer service pension (CSP) or carer income support supplement (CISS).
  3. Correct a technical deficiency that prevented bereavement payments being paid to carers upon the death of their non-pensioner partner for whom they were caring.

3.  Legislation

These amendments to the VEA were introduced in the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Budget and Compensation) Act 1997 as;

  1. Schedule 4
  2. Schedule 8, Part 7
  3. Schedule 8, Part 8


4. Consequential amendment to SSA changes

The Social Security Legislation Amendment (Budget and Other Measures) Act 1996 amended the name of carer pension to carer payment.

Consequential amendments are necessary to replace references to carer pension with references to carer payment in the VEA and the Veterans' Entitlements (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 1986.

5. Effective Date

This amendment is effective from 1 July 1997.



6.  Changes to respite and training provisions in SSA

From 1 July 1997, Schedule 1 of the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Budget and Other Measures) Act 1996 introduced amendments to the carer payment provisions of the SSA.  These amendments increase the flexibility of carer payments by increasing the allowable respite period for carers and also the period during which a carer can undertake further training or other work and still remain eligible.

7. Consequential amendment to SSA changes

Consequential amendments to the VEA are required to ensure equity of treatment of all carers, irrespective of the Department from which they receive their pension.

Rationale for amendment

This amendment is related to the 1996/97 Budget initiative to transfer responsibility for all carer payments to DSS.

8.  Some carers 'saved' by DVA

Certain categories of carers who may have been financially disadvantaged or unnecessarily inconvenienced by the transfer process were 'saved' and will continue to receive their carer pension from DVA.  Departmental Instruction C58-97 refers.

9. Saved carers could be disadvantaged

With the changes to the SSA as outlined above, 'saved' carers could be disadvantaged by their payments remaining with DVA.  This would be contrary to the Government's purpose.

This amendment ensures that those carers, whose payments will continue to be made by DVA, will not be unfairly disadvantaged in terms of their entitlements for respite care or education/ employment opportunities.

Details of changes

The changes affect the amount of time a carer can cease to provide personal care before eligibility for carer pension is lost.

10.  Current provisions

Under current rules for DVA, a carer is eligible for a total of 42 days of respite from caring in any 12 month period before losing eligibility for carer pension.  Likewise, a carer is permitted to undertake other paid employment or training for up to 10 hours per week before losing eligibility for carer pension.

11.  Details of changes

These provisions are amended so that:

  • the respite period increases from 42 days to 52 days
    [VEA section 39(2)(c)(i) and section45AB(2)(c)(i) are amended];
  • voluntary work is included in the maximum time period permitted for a carer to cease providing care without losing eligibility for carer pension
    [VEA section 39(2A)(b) and section 45AB(4)(b) are amended]; and
  • the allowable employment, voluntary work or training time increases from 10 hours to 20 hours per week
    [VEA section 39(2A)(c) and section 45(AB)(4)(c) are amended].

These changes reflect the Government's commitment to support community based care.

12.  Effective date

This amendment is effective from 1 July 1997.

Amendments relating to bereavement payments

Rationale for amendment

13.  CSP extended to care of non-pensioner veterans

As part of the 1995/96 budget initiative for carers, from 20 March 1996 eligibility for CSP was extended to persons caring for a severely handicapped non-pensioner veteran where that veteran's income was below the Family Payment income test level.

14. Bereavement Payment provisions

Bereavement provisions for carers caring for non-pensioner veterans are located at s53V of the VEA.  However, a technical deficiency existed within these bereavement provisions.

In effect  carer service pensioners who are caring for their severely handicapped non-pensioner veteran partners are not eligible for bereavement payments.

15. Transfer of carers to DSS

As identified previously, certain carers have been excluded from the transfer of carer payments to DSS.

Carer service pensioners who are caring for their non-pensioner veteran partner are one of the 'saved' groups.

These carers will continue to receive their carer pension from DVA.

16. 'Saved' carers disadvantaged

Without legislative amendment, if the severely handicapped non-pensioner veteran dies, the carer partner would not be eligible for any bereavement payment.

Procedural guidelines

17.  Legislative changes

Division 12A - Payments after bereavement.

Amendments to Subdivision B-Death of pensioner's partner ensure that the carer pensioner whose deceased partner was a non-pensioner will receive their bereavement payments under amended Subdivision E.

Amended Subdivision E - Death of a person being cared for (where the carer was not the person's partner or the person being cared for was not receiving a pension or social security pension) ensures that the carer pensioner whose deceased partner was a non-pensioner receives bereavement payment.

18. Calculation of bereavement payment

The amendments have not changed the calculation process for assessing the amount of bereavement payment.

In the event of the death of a non-pensioner whose partner was receiving CSP or CISS for their care, normal procedures will apply for determining the rate of bereavement payment, and any lump sum payment.

19. Effective date

The effective date for this initiative is 20 March 1996.


20. Future changes

When any future changes to the SSA carer payment provisions are introduced you will be advised of any policy or legislative implications for the 'saved' groups of carers.

21. Delegations

There will be no changes to delegations as a result of this initiative

22. Contact officers

Any questions regarding this DI should be directed to:

Robyn Del CasaleAssistant DirectorPhone: (08) 8290 0321

FAX: (08) 8290 0232

(LAN: Del Casale Robyn)

Kathi AshmanProject OfficerPhone: (08) 8290 0237

(LAN: Ashman Kathi)


   December 1997