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Social security hardship provisions available for farmers

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DPIE91/131 12 May 1991


The Minister for Primary Industries & Energy, John Kerin, said today that farming families in extreme financial stress may be eligible for support under the Financial Hardship provisions of the Social Security Act.

"Cabinet confirmed as part of the Rural Adjustment package I announced on April 17 that farmers are eligible to apply for hardship provisions under Section 7 of the Social Security Act," Mr Kerin said.

"Farmers who meet the other normal eligibility conditions may qualify for support under hardship provisions may receive unemployment, sickness, or special benefits and pensions."

"The existence of these provisions has not been widely known to people, especially farmers, who may be eligible for support."

To successfully receive benefits under Hardship Provisions the following requirements must be met:

* The applicant and spouse do not qualify for benefits or pension because of the assets test, have property that they cannot sell, or reasonably be expected to sell;

* The property cannot be used, or reasonably be expected to be used, as security for borrowings;

* The applicants are in severe financial hardship, ie:

total income must be less than the maximum fortnightly rate of benefit applicable to the person;

the person's readily available funds do not exceed $6000 for a single person or $10,000 for a married couple;

there is no other course of action which the person could reasonably be expected to take to improve his or her financial position;

the applicant and spouse are not receiving or eligible to apply for other Commonwealth assistance (such as household support under the Rural Adjustment Scheme or a DVA pension.)

* Application must be made on an approved DSS form.

If the financial hardship provisions are applied, the value of assets which cannot be sold or borrowed against will not be counted under the assets test. How much benefit is paid then depends on a special income test.

Further information on eligibility requirements and procedures are available from Rural Counsellors and offices of the Department of Social Security.

For more information contact: Simon Grose 06 2777 520