|Each year Legacy prepares a Budget Priority List (previously nicknamed “The Wish List”) for presentation to the Federal Government through the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. This is a list of issues that Legacy requests the Government to consider in developing the Commonwealth Budget for the following financial year. The submission of this list is followed up with a visit to the Minister by the LAC Chairman and National Pensions Committee Chairman who are given the opportunity to discuss the issues raised and any other matters that may be of interest to the Minister. Visits are also made to the Shadow Minister, other politicians and senior officers of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. |
The 2014 Budget Priority List can be found on Legacy’s National Webpage at www.legacy.com.au in the member’s login section. Of the 14 items submitted to Government, 3 were included in the budget. These were:
- A change in the definition of dependant children to allow the biological children of a veteran living apart from the veteran to be recognised in certain circumstances as being economically dependent on the deceased veteran thus being entitled to support under the provisions of the MRCA 2004;
- Beneficial changes to the indexation provisions for reversionary pensions for those widows of DFRB and DFRDB pensioners; and
- Improvements in the support to families of incapacitated ex-members of the ADF with mental health issues.
|Judging from the media storm following the release of the Budget it has been acknowledged as a tough one. It is also difficult to compile a definitive list of all the cross-departmental issues that will affect the Legacy family but we have given it a go and the following is a list of those items we believe will affect our Legacy Beneficiaries. |
CHANGES TO PENSIONS
- Co-payments for GP visits. From July 1, 2015 patients can expect to pay $7.00 for all GP consultations, out-of hospital pathology and imaging services. Concessional patients will pay for the first 10 services in each calendar year. Exemption applies to DVA Gold and White treatment card holders and to those with special health needs, e.g. a Chronic Disease Management program.
- Indexation (a) from 1 July 2017 indexation of pensions and pension equivalent payments will revert to CPI. This will impact on Service Pension, TPI, other veteran disability pensions, Income Support Supplement, War Widow’s Pension and equivalent MRCA payments. Note that these indexation changes do not apply to DFRB/DFRDB superannuation indexation payments.
- Indexation (b) from 1 July 2017 there will be a three year freeze on indexation of income and asset thresholds.
- Asset and income test thresholds: from 1 July 2017, for 3 years, the indexation of asset and income thresholds will be fixed. Hence, increases in income and assets could result in a reduction of the Age Pension, Carer Payment, Service Pension or Disability Support Pension. The family home, if a principal place of residence, will not be included in the pension asset test.
- Deeming Thresholds: from September 2017 for the purpose of the pensions income test, the deeming thresholds will be reset from $46,600 to $30,000 for singles and from $77,400 to $50,000 for couples. Hence, income above such thresholds will attract the higher deeming rate. The reduced threshold will not be increased for three years.
- Increased Service pension Compliance Reviews: Service pension compliance reviews will increase from 12000 recipients to 20000 recipients per financial year.
- Health provider fee indexation: DVA dental and allied health fees indexation has been delayed to July 2016. As a result there may be a small chance that some health providers may choose not to accept DVA clients. If this happens, the DVA should be informed.
- Pension Bonus Scheme: The closure date of this scheme has been deferred from 31st March 2014 to 1 July 2014. If you believe you are affected by this change you should consult your accountant or financial adviser.
CHANGES TO OTHER BENEFITS
- Increased Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co-payments: in 2015 the PBS Safety Net threshold for standard patients will increase in 2015 from $1452.50 to $1597.80. This means that a standard patient will pay an extra $145.30 before reaching the PBS Safety Net threshold.
- Increased Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co-payments: in 2015 the PBS Safety Net threshold for concessional patients will increase from 60 to 62 prescriptions. Hence a concessional patient will pay $61.80 more before reaching the safety net.
- Veterans’ Disability Pensions: on or after 1 January 2015 there will be no backdating of Disability Pension claims, other than for War Widow/er claims.
- Veterans’ Incapacity Payments: DVA clients in continuous receipt of incapacity payments for 12 months or more under SRCA or MRCA will undergo a specialist review. TPI, Gold Card and White Card holders who receive disability compensation payments for permanent disabilities will NOT be affected by this measure.
- Military Superannuation – DFRB / DFRDB: From 1 July 2014 the DFRB and DFRDB superannuation schemes indexation will change for members 55 years and over, in keeping with the Government’s election commitment.
- Military Superannuation – New Accumulation Scheme – ADF Super – MSBS: there will be a new Military Superannuation scheme from 1 July 2016. Widows should seek advice before considering any changes in their current arrangements.
- Medicare threshold changes: Current multiple Medicare safety nets for out-of-hospital services will be amalgamated into the new Medicare Safety Net.Thresholds will change. Individuals will not need to register, but families will need to register in order to combine the medical expenses for all family members even if they are all on one Medicare card.
- The Clean Energy Supplement will be called the Energy Supplement and it will be fixed at the current rate.
- The Seniors Supplement will end on 26 June 2014.
- Fuel Price: from 1 August 2014 the fuel levy will be indexed twice per annum.
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: from January 2015, untaxed superannuation income will be included in the eligibility assessment. This may eliminate eligibility for some widows.
|As was mentioned, this is not a definitive list and there may other items tucked away in the Budget Papers that we may have missed. There may also be some effect of concessional benefits from the States as a result of the withdrawal of Commonwealth funding for various programmes; only time will tell.|
In conclusion, with the release of this year’s budget, it is now time to start on next year’s Budget Priority List. Clubs can submit any items for consideration either to LAC, through their state representative on LAC or their state representative on the National Pensions Committee by 31st July 2014.