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13.03 Choice to receive Special Rate Disability Pension
Subsection 199(2) provides that a delegate must, as soon as possible after becoming aware that a former member meets the criteria, offer the former member a choice, in writing, to take SRDP. The offer must specify the date on which it is made. A former member has 12 months from this date to make his or her choice. The delegate may extend the offer if there was delay in the former member receiving the offer or they did not receive the offer.
The choice must be made in writing on a form approved by the MRCC for this purpose. A choice cannot be changed once it is made. Subsection 202(3) states that before making the choice, a person must obtain financial advice from a suitably qualified financial adviser in respect of the choice.
Section 205 (1) provides compensation for the cost of financial advice to assist a former member in making the choice. From 1 July 2013, section 205 (2) provides for compensation for legal advice. Legal advice must be provided by a practicing lawyer. The legal advice must only aid in making a choice to receive SRDP and is not intended to cover legal advice that may be required in dealing with other matters such as family court disputes.
The sum of the total amount of compensation under subsections 205(1) and (2) must not exceed the statutory limit.
Delegates should note that compensation for the cost of financial and legal advice is also available to anyone who is assessed with 50+ impairment points. If the date on which an SRDP offer was made and the date on which the person is advised that his or her impairment was 50 points or more are the same, only one amount for financial and/or legal compensation is payable. If the notifications occur on different dates, then the advice fee may be payable twice (see Chapter 5  of this manual for more information on PI compensation).
Compensation for the cost of financial and legal advice is payable to the person making the claim or if that person so directs:
the person who gave the advice; or
any other person who incurred the cost of the financial and /or legal advice.
13.03.1 Choice to receive the Special Rate Disability Pension is not a one-time offer/one choice per offer
A person can exercise their choice only once per offer. The person cannot subsequently request to make a different choice for the previous offer at a later time. This includes situations where a person is approaching retirement age, and had previously chosen not to receive SRDP payment (i.e. continues to receive incapacity payment).
However, SRDP eligibility is not a ‘once only’ assessment and offer. Section 209 outlines the criteria under which SRDP is no longer payable (see section 13.06). If a person who has ceased to meet the criteria for receiving SRDP is later found to meet the criteria again, the person will be offered a new choice under section 200.
A person is not precluded from SRDP assessment and eligibility on the basis they are approaching retirement age.