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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 246

Question No. 165


Mr Wells asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 18 May 1983:

(1) Is it a fact that if two pensioners are separated by means of illness and live in two different homes, some distance apart, their income, for the purpose of supplementary benefit, is still assessed on the basis of the married rate rather than on the basis of a single rate.

(2) Is it also a fact that if they were living separately because of a marital breakdown they would receive two separate pension incomes.

(3) If so, is any action available to the Minister to remedy this disparity.


Dr Blewett —The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Where a married couple are separated as a result of illness, each may be paid the maximum single rate of pension and each may attract the maximum rate of supplementary assistance. In determining the rate of pension and supplementary assistance payable, each is deemed to receive half the income of the couple.

(2) Where a pensioner couple are permanently separated due to marital breakdown , they are treated as single persons and not as a married couple. Accordingly, each may receive the maximum single rate of pension and each may attract the maximum rate of supplementary assistance. In determining the rate of pension and supplementary assistance payable to each, the pensioner's own income is taken into account.

(3) In (1) above, the continued existence of the marriage is recognised through the application of the income test applicable to a married couple while special consideration is given through payment of single rates of pension and supplementary assistance to the fact that the couple are no longer able to enjoy the economies of living together. In (2) above, the pensioners are treated as any other single person. It is not considered appropriate to vary this situation .