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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3589

Mr Abbott asked the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, in writing, on 10 March 2009:

(1)   Is she aware that some people were ineligible for a pensioner bonus payment in December 2008 because of their declared (temporary) income in the week ending 17 October 2008.

(2)   Why did a pensioner couple who earned $564 for casual exam supervision in the week ending 17 October 2008 miss out on a pensioner bonus payment of $2100 because of their honesty in reporting their temporary income to Centrelink.

Ms Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:

Eligibility for the Government’s Economic Security Strategy payments made in December 2008 was dependent on a person receiving a qualifying payment, like the Age Pension, on 14 October 2008. That was the day the Strategy was announced.

People whose pension was suspended due to employment or were on a zero rate of pension due to the application of the income test on 14 October 2008, could not be regarded as ‘receiving’ their pension. It is possible for Age Pensioners to be suspended or have a zero rate for up to 13 weeks during temporary employment.

The income test threshold applying as at 14 October 2008 for pensioner couples to receive a part pension cut out at $2,602 per fortnight. Therefore a pensioner couple with no other income who earned $564 in the week ending 17 October 2008 would not have missed out on the Economic Security Strategy payment. It is possible that the additional earned income of $564 from casual work together with income from other sources increased the couples overall income for that fortnight above this threshold resulting in the suspension of their pension for the period that included the 14 October 2008.