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War widows better off as bill passes parliament.



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VA112

Thursday 29 August 2002

WAR WIDOWS BETTER OFF AS BILL PASSES PARLIAMENT

Some 81,000 war widows will be better off from late September, following Parliament's approval of Federal Government legislation to remove Labor's unfair freeze on the war widow's income support supplement.

The Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Danna Vale, welcomed the passage of the Federal Budget initiative, saying it implemented a key election commitment to the veteran community.

"This means that this important financial support for war widows will be indexed, so that recipients benefit from improvements in Australian living standards," Minister Vale said.

"Like the Federal Government's initiative to reinstate the war widow's pension to those who remarried before 1984, the passage of today's legislation removes another Labor anomaly which discriminated against Australia's war widows."

From 20 September, the ceiling rate of the income support supplement will rise in September and March by the same percentage as the service pension, reflecting increases in the Consumer Price Index and Male Total Average Weekly Earnings.

"The 97 per cent of war widows who receive the ceiling rate will not have to do anything to benefit from this initiative, as the indexation will be applied automatically by the Department of Veterans' Affairs," the Minister said.

"The initiative also benefits war widows who are also veterans in their own right. These veterans receive a frozen rate of service pension and this payment will be subject to the same indexation arrangements."

War widows who receive less than the ceiling rate will continue to benefit from increases in their payment, as a result of regular indexation of the income-free threshold for the DVA income and assets tests that occurs on 1 July each year.

A small number of war widow pension recipients receive the supplement at a higher rate which was set before the rate freeze was introduced in 1986. These payments will remain at their current level until the ceiling rate catches up, at which point the indexation arrangements will apply.

"While the majority of war widows receiving income support do so through DVA, there remains a small number who continue to receive their payments through Centrelink," the Minister said.

"Their payments are not covered by this initiative and I would encourage them to transfer to the DVA income support supplement, in order to benefit from the removal of the ceiling rate freeze. Those war widows who wish to transfer to DVA should contact 133 254."

More information about the war widow's income support supplement is available from the Veterans' Affairs website at www.dva.gov.au .

Media Contact: Rachael Thompson (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 265 289