External
Departmental Instruction

DATE OF ISSUE:  11 June 1998

JUNE 1998 QUARTERLY LETTERS MAILOUT

Table of Contents

Letter Content..............................................................

Inserts....................................................................

Number of Pensioner Households Affected.........................................

Pre-Mailout Processing Details for States..........................................

Printing and Despatch of Advice Packages.........................................

Issues Requiring State Office Action..............................................

BOB HAY

BRANCH HEAD

INCOME SUPPORT


Background

Purpose of instruction

This Departmental Instruction is to provide information about processing information for the June quarterly letters, Group Certificates and Medicare Levy Exemption Certificates mailout.

Introduction

In June each year, the Department undertakes a bulk exercise to issue approximately 325,000 households with advice letter “packages” to persons in receipt of service pension, income support supplement payments from DVA or Social Security age pension.  Some of these letter packages will include Group Certificates for the end of the financial year, and various miscellaneous inserts.  This year we will also be including an A4 booklet of approximately 62 pages for each Household.  This will mean that the majority of letters will need to be plastic wrapped rather than enveloped.  However, a small number of letters will be enveloped and will not include a booklet and all Medicare Levy Exemption Certificates will be enveloped and will not include a booklet.

A/L Events

The June 1998 Quarterly mailout will incorporate the following events for pay day 2 July 1998:

  • production of letters to reduced rate and maximum rate service, age and income support supplement recipients;

  • production and issue of end of financial year Group Certificates;

  • production and issue of Medicare Levy Exemption Certificates;

  • payment of telephone allowance to those eligible;

  • inclusion of a booklet titled “You and Your Pension - A guide for service pensioners and for war widows and widowers who receive the income support supplement” to all service pension and income support supplement recipients.

No Cost of Living Adjustments

As the cost of living figure for the most recent reference period results in a negative amount there will be no change to pension or allowance rates, threshold or limits.


Letter Content

Letters

Prior to the issue of this DI, System Support Officers and Managers Income Support were provided with copies of the paragraph sequencing and mock-ups of letters for this run.  Copies of those mock-ups are reproduced at Attachments A, B and C to this DI.

Cover Sheet

Each booklet package will include a cover sheet as well as the advice letter.  A sample of the cover sheet is included with the mock-ups.

Payment Boxes

The letters to service pensioners, income support supplement recipients and age pensioners will include a payment box.

Income and Asset Listing

A full Income and Asset listing will be provided to service pensioners, income support supplement recipients and age pensioners in receipt of less than the maximum rate of pension.

Telephone Allowance

Letters will inform pensioners entitled to a telephone allowance payment about their quarterly payment.

Obligations Listing

Obligations will be suppressed for this mailout, because all service pensioners and income support supplement recipients will be receiving a booklet (see “Inserts”) informing them of their obligation to advise the Department of any changes to their circumstances which might affect payment of pension and allowances.  Letters to age pensioners will have their obligations suppressed and reference will be made to previous obligations issued.

General Information Sheet (GIS)

Each letter will contain a General Information Sheet (GIS).  This will act as the consistent last page for gatemarking purposes at the mailing house.  The GIS has been modified and will contain rates and limits information.

Hotline

A Hotline will be in operation to answer any queries pensioners may have in regards to matters relating to the booklet or content of the letter.  The letterheads for each State office will contain the Hotline number.  John Stevens will be issuing instructions to all States on how the hotline will operate.


Inserts

Booklet

A 62 page A4 booklet titled ‘You and Your Pension – A guide for service pensioners and for war widows and widowers who receive the income support supplement' will be included with this mailout.  The booklet will be sent to all service pension and income support supplement recipients only and provides information intended to help income support pensioners understand their benefits, rights and obligations.  Additional supplies of the booklet will be supplied to all State offices.  Further information on the booklet can be obtained by contacting John Stevens on 07 3223 8568 or Jill De Vaus on 07 3223 8516.

Blind pensioners also to receive audio tape

Blind service pensioners and income support supplement recipients will receive a booklet in the mailout.  They will also receive an audio tape of the booklet at a later date.  A paragraph will be included in letters to blind pensioners informing them of the audio tape.

Age Pensioners

Age pensioners will not be receiving a booklet in this mailout.  Age pensioner will receive a letter, group certificate and general information sheet and other inserts if appropriate.

Age pensioners who transferred from Centrelink in the bulk run in March will have already received their Centrelink group certificate, and will receive their DVA group certificate in this run.

Group Certificates (GCs) for TAXABLE pensioners

All service pensioners, income support supplement and age pensioners whose pensions are taxable, will receive a Group Certificate unless tax deductions were made during the year.

The Group Certificate for pensioners who have had tax deductions, will be sent to State Offices for checking prior to mailing.

All Group Certificates will include the period (in days) the pensioners are exempt from paying the Medicare Levy.

NON TAXABLE pensioners

Those pensioners whose pensions are not taxable (e.g., service pension on grounds of permanent incapacity and under 65 years of age) will receive an advice letter only.  A Medicare Levy Exemption Certificate (MLEC) will be issued separately

ATO

There will be one insert for each envelope or package from the Australian Taxation Office, titled “Do you need to lodge a tax return”.  This brochure has been produced in conjunction with ATO, Centrelink and DVA and it is hoped that it will significantly reduce the number of queries the State Offices received regarding taxation matters.  The leaflet includes contact numbers for pensioners to use regarding any taxation related queries they may have.  Each State Office has nominated a contact officer who will receive additional copies of the ATO brochure which will need to be included with letters being mailed from State Offices ie. Special Register, Overseas and Enclosure letters.  Refer to Attachments D and E for wording of the brochure.

Medicare Levy Exemption Certificates (MLEC)

Medicare Levy Exemption Certificates will also be produced in this mailout.  This will consist of a box in the Group Certificate stating the period of exemption if applicable or a separate certificate for Gold Card beneficiaries who are not in receipt of a taxable income support pension.

NSW/ACT Residents

There will be an additional insert for NSW and ACT residents only from the ANZAC Health and Medical Research Foundation.  This particular insert will also include a reply paid envelope.  A copy of this insert could not be included in this DI.  Queries in respect of this insert should be directed to Keith Napier on 02 9213 7216


Number of Pensioner Households Affected

The estimated number of Households to receive a Group Certificate and/or Medicare Levy Exemption Certificate information is as follows:

Type

NSW

VIC

QLD

SA

WA

TAS

AUST

SP

65,632

44,458

41,367

19,917

18,911

8,720

199,005

ISS

24,269

17,604

12,945

6,016

4,758

2,493

68,085

AP

3,400

2,458

1,613

739

764

162

9,136

DP*

18,410

12,664

8,967

3,600

3,618

1,491

48,750

TOTAL

111,523

77,098

64,820

30,251

28,012

12,860

324,909

*  Medicare Levy Exemption Certificate to these pensioner only

Pre-Mailout Processing Details for States

Processing

Processing is scheduled to run from Thursday evening 11 June until Sunday evening 14 June 1998.  Production facilities will therefore not be available from 2.00 pm EST 11 June 1998 until Monday morning 15 June 1998.

ADP Processing

Detailed information regarding ADP Processing will be issued to State System Support Officers in a separate memorandum.  The Systems Support Offices will be issuing a local processing timetable and should be consulted on any matter concerning ADP Processing.

Timetable

Key time frames and events for the June mailout are summarised below.  The first processing run will begin on the evening of

Date

Event

Thursday 11/6/98

Cut off for payday 78 will be 2.00pm EST for All States – Production not available

Thursday evening 11/6/98

Tax Processing and Group Certificate Production

Friday 12/6/98

Day 1 processing for pay period 01.  Daily letters from this processing to be dispatched immediately.

Saturday 13/6/98 and

Sunday 14/6/98

Automatic Run for Medicare Levy Exemption Certificates, Group Certificates and Advice cartridge production.

Monday 15/6/98

Full production to recommence for all cases

Handling of Daily Advices

Cases processed in advance for day 1 of 2 July 1998 should have the daily advice despatched prior to the Quarterly Advice being sent.

Daily payment advices produced after the processing run on 11-14 June 1998 for pay period 01 (02 July 1998), should be held by State Offices until confirmation is received from the Quarterly Advices Project Officer in National Office to release such advices.  This will ensure that pensioners who have pension variations processed for payday 02 July 1998 will receive their daily advice after the quarterly advice rather than in advance of it.

To minimise the number of daily advices to be held whilst quarterly advices are processed, it is suggested that only manual cases (and essential processing) should be processed for payday 02 July 1998.


Printing and Despatch of Advice Packages

Package Production

Security Mailing Services, Kingsgrove, Sydney will print advice letters, add inserts and wrap and mail all packages.  Production of packages is expected to occur over period 15 June to 26 June.

Lodgment of Packages

Packages will be held at Security Mailing Services until 25 June.  Packages will then be lodged with Australia Post from Thursday 25 June 1998 until the printing and packaging process has been completed.  The priority order for printing of each State is as follows:

1 Tasmania

2. Queensland

3. Victoria

4. New South Wales

5. South Australia

6. Western Australia

7. Medicare Levy Exemption Certificates, All States, same order as above.

This priority order has been requested by the Breakthrough team to fit in with planned information sessions about the booklet that will be conducted by John Stevens and Jill De Vaus in each State office.

Publicity

There will be two articles included in the June edition of VetAffairs regarding taxation.  The Minister will publicly release the booklet in early July.  A copy of the two articles is at Attachment E.


Issues Requiring State Office Action

Special Register and Overseas

Overseas cases for Tasmania will be sent on a cartridge to Security Mailing Services for printing and plastic wrapping.  All other States overseas letters will be printed at Hermes and forwarded to the State Offices in with normal daily advice output, for checking and mailing.  All Special Register letters will be printed at Hermes and forwarded to State Offices in with normal daily output for checking and mailing.  States will be provided with copies of the booklet and the ATO brochure to include in letters to these pensioners.

Enclosures Letters

It is possible that some States will receive some Enclosure advice letters (these are letters that will include a treatment change).  These will also be forwarded in with normal daily advice output and a booklet and the ATO brochure will also need to be included with these letters.

Tax deduction Cases

The Group Certificates for pensioners who have had tax deductions will be sent to the System Support Officers in each State for checking and mailing.

Reprints of selected letters

Any requests for reprints of individual Quarterly Advice letters should be referred to System Support Officers to organise a reprint.

Reprints of Group Certificates

System Support Officers will receive a formatted Group Certificate in Word format for any reprints.

Reprints of MLEC

System Support Officers will receive a template of the Medicare Levy Exemption Certificate in Word format for any reprints.

Feedback from State Offices

Any concerns regarding letters produced as part of this run should be directed immediately to the NO contact officer, Kristie Wallace.  At the end of this process we will be collating all State feedback to analyse issues raised and develop solutions to address any concerns raised.  Any problems noted should be reported to the National Office contact officer with the nature of the query and the file number of the client.  Please ensure that problems are reported as early as possible.

Contacts

There will be one National Office contact for this mailout.  Any queries regarding advice wording, data cartridges, mail house printing and letter lodgment should be referred to:

Kristie Wallace

(02) 6289 6019 (Phone)

(02) 6289 6553 (Fax)


ATTACHMENT A

PARAGRAPH SEQUENCING AND TARGET AUDIENCE

Paragraph

To whom

Cover Sheet/List of Contents

All (except Age Pensioners)

State Office address and phone no.

All

Date

All

File Number

All

Name and Address

All

Salutation

All

Opening Paragraph

All

No change To Threshold Limits

All

Payment Box

All

Group Certificates

All who are taxable

Your MLEC is being posted separately

Non Taxable SP/ISS

Your Obligations

Age Pensioners

You and Your Pension

All (except Age Pensioners)

Your booklet will be sent on audio tape

Blinded Reduced Raters

Financial Obligations

Reduced Raters

Total of Income and Assets

Maximum Raters

Telephone Allowance

All eligible for payment

Changes you have already told us about

All

Closing Paragraph

All

Signature Block (State specific)

All

Full Income & Asset Listing

Reduced Raters

Group Certificate

All who are taxable and haven't had tax deductions taken out during the financial year

General Information Sheet

All


ATTACHMENT B

SAMPLE LETTERS


EXAMPLE1: SP, Sgle Assmt, Reduced Rate, Income tested, TA payment, Full I&A Listing, Booklet, Taxable

Image

If not delivered return to

T-ADVICE-RETURN-ADDRESS

T-ADVICE-ADDRESS-LINE1

T-ADVICE-ADDRESS-LINE2

T-ADVICE-ADDRESS-LINE3  T-ADVICE-ADDRESS-STATE T-ADVICE-ADDRESS-POSTCODE

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS INSIDE

PLEASE TURN OVER FOR LIST OF CONTENTS


THIS PACKAGE OF INFORMATION INCLUDES:

  •       A booklet titled "You and Your Pension - A Guide to Service Pensioners and for War Widows and Widowers who receive the Income Support Supplement".

  •       A letter giving you details about your pension.

  •       Information about Group Certificates for the 1997/98 financial year.

  •       A brochure from the Australian Taxation Office titled “Do you need to lodge a tax return?”.

Purpose of the booklet – “You and Your Pension”

This booklet is for members of the veteran community who receive either the service pension, or the income support supplement.  It aims to help you to better understand your benefits as well as the rights and obligations you have because you receive them.  The payment of both these pensions depends on wither an income test or an assets test, and the booklet explains how these tests work.  It also explains the things you need to tell us about so that your pension is paid at the correct rate.

The booklet contains information about the range of benefits and services you may be entitled to from DVA, either now or in the future.  We hope that it will be a useful guide for you or members of your family.

Image

T-ADVICE-RETURN-ADDRESS _

Contact: T-CONTACT-OFFICERSTATE OFFICE

Telephone: T-CONTACT-TELEPHONE

AMP Place

10 Eagle Street

Brisbane QLD 4000

Postal Address:

GPO Box 651

Brisbane Qld 4001

Telephone:

Metropolitan Residents 1300 555 785

Country Residents: 1300 555 785

Interstate Residents 1300 555 785

Facsimile: (07) 32238585

T-ADVICE-PRINT-DATE

YOUR FILE NUMBER IS T-FILE-NUMBER

T-ADVICE-SALUTATION,

I am writing to you about your T-PENSION-SP-ISS-AP payment from Veterans' Affairs.

No Change to Threshold Limits

During the most recent period there has not been a large enough increase in the cost of living to provide for an increase in pension threshold limits.

Your current fortnightly rate of pension is shown below.

PAYBOX INSERTED HERE

Group Certificates

As it is the end of the 1997/98 financial year Group Certificates are being issued.  You will need this information if you are required to lodge a tax return.  If no tax deductions have been made from your T-PENSION-SP-ISS-AP for the 1997/98 financial year, your original Group Certificate has been included with this letter.  If tax deductions have been made on your behalf, the Group Certificate will be mailed separately.  You should contact your local Taxation Office if you have any questions about taxation.

Medicare Levy Exemption

If you have been eligible for full treatment at departmental expense during the past financial year, you do not have to pay the Medicare Levy for that period.  The period for which you have been exempt from the levy appears on your Group Certificate.

You and Your Pension

This booklet has been sent to you because you receive a service pension.  It provides information about:

.the service pension and associated allowances and benefits

.the income and assets tests and how different types of income and assets are counted for pension purposes

.your obligations and rights as a service pensioner

.other services available from Veterans' Affairs

This booklet is a notice under Section 54 of the Veterans' Entitlements Act it sets out your obligations (the things you need to tell us about), so that your pension is paid at the right rate.  It also sets out the things you do not need to tell us about.  These obligations are contained in Chapter 11.

Financial Obligations

You currently receive less than the maximum rate of T-PENSION-SP-ISS-AP because your income is above the current threshold.  The income thresholds are available on the General Information Sheet at the end of this letter.

You need to tell us within in 21 days if your income from all sources increases above T-PRESC-INCOME-AMT per fortnight or your assets, apart from your home, exceed T-PRES-ASSET-AMT.  Income includes deemed income from your financial assets and income from other sources.

Telephone Allowance

Your quarterly telephone allowance will be paid on T-DATE-OF-PAYMENT, together with your fortnightly rate of pension.  The current telephone allowance rates are:

Singles Rate - $15.60

Couples Rate (each) - $  7.80

World War I Veterans - $42.50

Changes You Have Already Told Us About

If you have told us recently about a change to your income and assets or your domestic situation, it may not have been processed before this letter was sent.  When that change has been finalised, we will send you another letter providing details of your new pension assessment.

If you have any questions about any of the above matters, please contact the Department at the address or telephone number shown at the top of this letter.

Yours sincerely,

.si sigql3 depth 5 absolute

Gary Collins

ATTACHMENTS

FULL INCOME AND ASSETS LISTING

GROUP CERTIFICATE

GENERAL INFORMATION SHEET


Example 2: AP, Sgle Assmt, Reduced Rater, No TA, No Booklet, Taxable, Full I/A listing.

T-ADVICE-RETURN-ADDRESS _

Image

T-ADVICE-RETURN-ADDRESS _

Contact: T-CONTACT-OFFICERSTATE OFFICE

Telephone: T-CONTACT-TELEPHONE

AMP Place

10 Eagle Street

Brisbane QLD 4000

Postal Address:

GPO Box 651

Brisbane Qld 4001

Telephone:

Metropolitan Residents 1300 555 785

Country Residents: 1300 555 785

Interstate Residents 1300 555 785

Facsimile: (07) 32238585

T-ADVICE-PRINT-DATE

YOUR FILE NUMBER IS T-FILE-NUMBER

I am writing to you about your T-PENSION-SP-ISS-AP payment from Veterans' Affairs.

No Change to Threshold Limits

During the most recent period there has not been a large enough increase in the cost of living to provide for an increase in pension threshold limits.

Your current fortnightly rate of pension is shown below.

PAYMENT BOX INSERTED HERE

If you were previously being paid by Centrelink, they will issue a Group Certificate to you separately.

Group Certificates

As it is the end of the 1997/98 financial year Group Certificates are being issued.  You will need this information if you are required to lodge a tax return.  If no tax deductions have been made from your T-PENSION-SP-ISS-AP for the 1997/98 financial year, your original Group Certificate has been included with this letter.  If tax deductions have been made on your behalf, the Group Certificate will be mailed separately.  You should contact your local Taxation Office if you have any questions about taxation.

Medicare Levy Exemption

If you have been eligible for full treatment at departmental expense during the past financial year, you do not have to pay the Medicare Levy for that period.  The period for which you have been exempt from the levy appears on your Group Certificate.

Financial Obligations

You currently receive less than the maximum rate of age pension because your income is above the current threshold.  The income thresholds are available on the General Information Sheet at the end of this letter.

You need to tell us within 21 days if your income from all sources increases above T-PRESC-INCOME-AMT per fortnight or your assets, apart from your home, exceed T-PRESCR-ASSET-AMT.  Income includes deemed income from your financial assets and income from other sources.

Your Obligations

Your obligations have been explained in previous advices; these obligations still apply.

Changes You Have Already Told Us About

If you have told us recently about a change to your income and assets or your domestic situation, it may not have been processed before this letter was sent.  When that change has been finalised, we will send you another letter providing details of your new pension assessment.

If you have any questions about any of the above matters, please contact the Department at the address or telephone number shown at the top of this letter.

Yours sincerely,

.si sigql3 depth 5 absolute

Gary Collins

ATTACHMENTS

FULL INCOME/ASSET LISTING

GROUP CERTIFICATE

GENERAL INFORMATION SHEET


Example 3: SP, Sgle Assmt, Max Rater, TA payment, Booklet, Non Taxable

Image

       If not delivered return to

       GPO Box 3994, Sydney. NSW. 1141

POSTAGE

PAID

AUSTRALIA

OMR marks

in same position as

for letters

Name and address

in the same position as for

letters

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS INSIDE

PLEASE TURN OVER FOR LIST OF CONTENTS


THIS PACKAGE OF INFORMATION INCLUDES:

  •       A Booklet titled “You and Your Pension - A Guide for Service Pensioners and for War Widows and Widowers who receive the Income Support Supplement”.

  •       A letter giving you details about your pension.

  •       Information about Group Certificates for the 1997/98 financial year.

  •       A brochure from the Australian Taxation Office titled “Do you need to lodge a tax return?”.

Purpose of the booklet - You and Your Pension

This booklet is for members of the veteran community who receive either the service pension, or the income support supplement.  It aims to help you to better understand your benefits as well as the rights and obligations you have because you receive them.  The payment of both these pensions depends on either an income test or an assets test, and the booklet explains how these tests work.  It also explains the things you need to tell us about so that your pension is paid at the correct rate.

The booklet contains information about the range of benefits and services you may be entitled to from DVA, either now or in the future.  We hope that it will be a useful guide for you or members of your family.