Acknowledging older Australians



B1. One-off payment to the aged


Implementation


Income support clients: by 30 June 2001
People who are outside the income support and personal income tax systems, and who do not have a partner in either system: 1 July 2001.
 

What's New


This initiative provides for a new, one-off payment of $300 to two groups of older Australians.

  • People on income support over age pension age (61½ for women and 65 for men), and veterans on income support who are over veteran pension age (56½ for women and 60 for men). This group will receive payment automatically, by 30 June 2001.
  • People over age pension age, who are outside the income support and the personal income tax systems, and who do not have a partner in either system.
    • People in this group will generally be eligible for payment if their taxable income for 2000-2001 is $20 000 or less (single) or $32 612 (couple combined) which are the effective tax-free thresholds for 2000-01.
    • People in this group will be able to claim payment through Centrelink between 1 July and 31 December 2001.

Background


The measure will give a one-off boost to the living standards of older Australians on income support, or where both they and their partners are outside both the income support and personal income tax systems. Such a measure has been widely advocated by groups representing older people. The tax-free payment may assist people to meet winter bills, and may provide an alternative to the option of a repayable $500 lump sum advance to meet "lumpy expenditure" such as house maintenance and repairs.

 

FaCS Portfolio Funding: $567 million in 2000 – 01 and 2001 - 02



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B2. Exempt superannuation from the social security means test for people aged between 55 and age pension age


Implementation


1 July 2001
 

What's New


From 1 July 2001 superannuation assets will be exempted from the social security income and assets tests from age 55 until Age Pension age. Currently, superannuation assets of customers below Age Pension age are assessed when they have received income support for 39 weeks after age 55.

This measure will increase income support payments of customers whose payment is affected by the current rule.

Age Pension age is 65 for males, and 61½ for females.
 

Background


This measure is estimated to benefit around 55,000 customers. Some customers will have their current income support payment increased from 1 July. This will automatically occur, and these customers will not need to contact Centrelink. Other customers will become entitled to income support from 1 July; they will need to lodge a claim with Centrelink.

Most customers who benefit from this measure will be qualified for Disability Support Pension, Mature Age Allowance or Newstart Allowance.
 

Funding: $359 million over four years



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B3. Telephone allowance to commonwealth seniors health card holders


Implementation


September 2001 – Telephone Allowance
 

What's New


This initiative will extend Telephone Allowance of $17.20 a quarter (for both singles and couples) to eligible self-funded retirees who qualify for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

In addition, the Commonwealth will negotiate with State and Territory Governments to extend to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders some or all of the State and Territory concessions that are available to pensioners and certain allowees.
 

Background


Currently, the Commonwealth provides holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card with access to concessional pharmaceuticals under the Health and Aged Care Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, generally at $3.50 per script.

This initiative is intended to assist eligible self-funded retirees with the cost of maintaining a domestic telephone line through payment of a Telephone Allowance. Previously, only pensioners and certain allowees were able to qualify for this allowance.

Most State and Territory Governments provide a range of concessions to holders of Pensioner Concession Cards. Through its negotiations with the States and Territories, the Commonwealth would aim to extend access to some or all of these concessions to holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
 

FaCS Portfolio Funding: $104 million over four years



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B4. Extend eligibility for commonwealth seniors health card


Implementation


July 2001
 

What's New


This initiative will increase the annual income limits for CSHC eligibility to:

  • $50,000 for singles;
  • $50,000 each for couples separated by illness, respite care or because their partner is in gaol; and
  • $80,000 for couples.

Previously, the income limits for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card were lower: $41,000 for singles; $37,615 each for couples separated by illness; $41,000 each for couples separated by respite care or because their partner was in gaol; and $68,676 for couples.

Around 50,000 additional self-funded retirees will become eligible for the card as a result of this measure.
 

Background


This measure further recognises the important contribution made by self funded retirees in providing for their own retirement.

Currently, the Commonwealth provides holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card with access to concessional pharmaceuticals under the Health and Aged Care Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, generally at $3.50 per script. In addition, the Government is also extending Telephone Allowance from September 2001 to eligible self-funded retirees who qualify for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. Furthermore, the Commonwealth will negotiate with State and Territory Governments to extend to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders some or all of the State and Territory concessions that are available to pensioners and certain allowees.

 

FaCS Portfolio Funding: $1.5 million in 2001 - 02

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