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Pensioners



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(Γ Minister for Social Security

Senator Graham Richardson η

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PENSIONERS

Reform of telephone concessions and the indexation of the Pensioner Earnings Credits Scheme are two important measures in this year's Budget which will help pensioners.

From 1 July 1992, the existing voucher based Telephone Rental Concession will be replaced with a Telephone Allowance. The allowance will be paid as a cash payment worth $51.80 over the year. It will be indexed, paid quarterly to help cover the cost of telephone rental and calls.

"The change to a cash payment should resolve administrative problems caused by the voucher-based system," the Minister for Social Security, Senator Richardson said. "It will make the telephone concession scheme more efficient and effective".

PENSIONER EARNINGS CREDIT SCHEME:

Indexation of the Pensioner Earnings Credit will help pensioners, especially sole parent pensioners, who want to take-up part-time work.

Pensioners can currently earn up to $42 a week (singles) and $74 a week (married combined) without affecting their pension. The earnings credit scheme lets them add up the value of this weekly amount to $1,000 before the normal income test

provisions apply.

This yearly earnings credit will be indexed every July from 1992.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION SERVICE:

The Financial Information Service for Pensioners (FISP) will be expanded. It will be made available to other Department of Social Security clients including people receiving the Jobsearch or Newstart Allowances and the Sole Parent Pension.

To reflect this expansion, the name of the service will change to the Financial Information Service (FIS) from November 1991.

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The expanded service will feature:

. a more active outreach to disadvantaged groups . increased training for staff . more intensive promotion to advise pensioners of the Pension Loans Scheme and Home Equity Conversion

Schemes. '

"FISP has been an overwhelming success. Pensioners have found the service invaluable. Other DSS clients will clearly benefit from this free advice," Senator Richardson said.

OVERSEAS PENSIONS:

Overseas-born age pensioners will be given more help to obtain their proper overseas pension entitlements.

"In many cases, pensioners now living in Australia have contributed for many years to pension schemes in other countries and not received any benefit. It is only fair that they get assistance to claim their pension entitlements from overseas".

Three staff will be recruited in both the United Kingdom and Italy to visit Australian pensioners living in those countries. From 1 January T992 regular field reviews will help ensure that Australian pensioners living overseas are complying with our Social Security laws.

PENSIONER ASSETS:

Between 26 September and 1 November 1991, there will be a review of real estate valuations for asset test purposes.

This measure will help to check the practice of some pensioners undervaluing their real estate holdings to stay within the pension assets test limits. This will affect only a very small number of pensioners.

NEW RATES:

From the first pension pay-day in March 1992, a pensioner with a spouse who is not getting a Social Security pension or benefit will get the married rate of pension. This will be instead of the higher single rate which now applies. The correction of this anomaly will apply to pensioners and beneficiaries;

Contact: Media Gregg Borschmann (Minister's office) (06) 2777560 General Inquiries: Social Security Information 008 060 123 for Metropolitan areas (including Darwin)

008 112 468 for all other areas (including Canberra). 008 039 009 Multi-Lingual Telephone Service. August 20 1991.

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