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6.3 Overpayments Due to Death
6.3.1 — Prior to 13 July 1999, the commencement date for an overpayment that occurred after the death of a partner was after the end of the bereavement period.
6.3.2 — From 13 July 1999 and prior to 1 September 2003 the commencement date for an overpayment that occurred after the death of a partner was dependent on whether a valid section 54 VEA notice had been issued. End of Bereavement (EOB) letters were sent to the partner of a deceased income support pensioner at the end of their 3?month bereavement period to issue a new section 54 VEA notice outlining the pensioner's obligations to notify particular changes to their circumstances that might affect their pension rate. The letters were generated monthly following a computer run which identified pensioners whose bereavement period ended in the previous calendar month. The timing for sending EOB letters resulted in pensioners not being provided with timely section 54 VEA notices in respect of their obligations.
6.3.3 — A section 54 VEA notice issued prior to the partner's death was considered valid in respect of those events the survivor ought to have known would impact upon their pension, and where the pensioner should have the information about the change of circumstances.
6.3.4 — For example, if a person ceased renting after the death of their partner, the obligation notice they had been issued prior to the partner's death remained valid. In such a case, if the person did not notify of this change in circumstances within 14 days (or 28 days where appropriate) after the end of the bereavement period, the date of effect of the overpayment would be the day after the end of the bereavement period.
6.3.5 — If prior to issuing the post bereavement notification letter, there is no valid section 54 VEA notice in respect of a particular change of circumstance, the 14 (or 28) days within which the pensioner is required to notify of any change in circumstance starts on the day the pensioner receives the post bereavement notification letter. If the pensioner responds within that period, any reduction in pension starts on the day after the end of the notification period. If they respond outside that period, any reduction arising from information which was subject to the section 54 VEA notice will take effect under section 56B VEA.
6.3.6 — From 1 September 2003 changes were implemented to the end of bereavement period advice process. The changes were implemented to ensure pensioners were issued with new obligations prior to the end of the bereavement period. EOB letters are now generated fortnightly in advance, as opposed to monthly in arrears. The EOB computer run processed every second Sunday, identifies pensioners whose EOB date falls within a 14 day period, commencing the Wednesday after the run date. This ensures that letters and obligations are sent to pensioners before the end of their bereavement period. The booklet You and Your Pension (Y&YP) and a Statement of Circumstances Form are also included with the EOB letter.
6.3.7 — The date of effect for any reduction in pension which results from a person failing to comply with their obligations under section 54 VEA, will be the day after the end of the bereavement period. If a person complies with their section 54 VEA notification obligations, the date of effect for a reduction in pension is the day after the notification period following the bereavement period.
If a notifiable event or change of circumstances occurs within the bereavement period and the pensioner does not notify the Department within 14 days after the end of the bereavement period, any reduction in pension will take effect from the day after the end of the bereavement period (i.e. 99th day after the death of the pensioner's partner). Therefore, any overpayment would be calculated for the period from the day after the end of the bereavement period until the day the event was notified.
An event or change of circumstance occurs prior to the death of a pensioner. Neither the pensioner nor the partner inform the Department of this change. A fortnight after the event occurring, the pensioner passes away. The surviving partner informs the Department of the death of the pensioner one-week later, and at the same time advises the Department of the initial change of circumstance.
As a result, notification of the initial change of circumstance falls outside the notification period, and because of the change, the survivor's rate of income support is to be reduced with effect from the day of the event.
Period from DOE to Date of Death
Both the pensioner's and survivor's married rate should be adjusted for the period from the DOE to the date of death of the pensioner. An overpayment should then be calculated for the adjustment made to both the survivor and the deceased's married rate.
Period from beginning of bereavement period to end of bereavement period
An adjustment should also be made to the survivor's new single rate of pension and to the lump sum bereavement payment consisting of a reassessment to the combined married rate and the survivor's new single rate.
6.3.8 — If a lump sum bereavement payment made under subsection 53L(5) VEA is paid after the death of a person who was the intended recipient of the payment, the bereavement payment is a payment with lawful authority under the VEA and is therefore recoverable under section 205 VEA.
6.3.9 — An overpayment of disability pension may also accrue, if the deceased partner received greater than the general rate of disability pension. (The total amount of disability pension bereavement payment payable is calculated as six times the lesser of the deceased's fortnightly disability pension, or 100% of the general rate of disability pension.) If the overpayment occurred before the death of a partner and continued after the bereavement period, then the bereavement payments may need to be recalculated and included in the overpaid amount.