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Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Boost to pension and adult benefit rates

Over 3.9 million pensioners and adults receiving income support will benefit from a rise in pension and adult benefit rates from 20 September 2002.

The boost to payments is due to a rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the six months to June 2002. The rise in pension rates is due to increases in the CPI and Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE).

A single pensioner receiving the full pension will receive an extra $197.60 a year, while each member of a pensioner couple will receive up to an extra $163.80 a year.

The maximum single rate of pension will rise by $7.60 to $429.40 a fortnight, while the maximum-partnered pension will increase by $6.30 to $358.40 a fortnight for each member of a couple.

In 1997, the Coalition legislated to set pensions at 25 per cent of MTAWE, as well as continuing to raise pensions in line with CPI. This provided a significant extra financial safeguard for older Australians and means age pension rates are regularly adjusted to keep pace with the cost of living and increases in living standards.

Since the legislation took effect in March 1998, increases to MTAWE have boosted the maximum single rate of pension by $24.00 a fortnight, while the maximum partnered rate for each member of a pensioner couple has risen by a total of $20.30 a fortnight.

When Labor was in office, they promised to legislate the MTAWE guarantee but never went through with their promise.

The increase in payment rates will also flow through to higher income and assets cut-off amounts allowing more people to become newly entitled to a pension or allowance.

Other payments to rise include the adult allowance rates of Parenting Payment, Mature Age Allowance, Newstart Allowance, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Special Benefit and Sickness Allowance. Other rates to increase include Maximum Rent Assistance, Telephone Allowance and Maternity Allowance.

Details of new pension and adult allowance rates are attached.

Summary of Changes 20 September 2002 – 31 December 2002
01-Jul-2002 20-Sep-2002 increase
Adult Pension Basic Rates
Single
base $405.80 $413.10 $7.30 pf
supplement $16.00 $16.30 $0.30 pf
Total $421.80 $429.40 $7.60 pf
Couple
base $338.90 $345.00 $6.10 pf
supplement $13.20 $13.40 $0.20 pf
Total $352.10 $358.40 $6.30 pf
Youth Disability Support Pension Basic Rates
Member of a couple
 under 18 $352.10 $358.40 $6.30 pf
 18 – 20 years $352.10 $358.40 $6.30 pf
Pension Disqualifying Income Limits
Family Situation
Single $1,185.00 $1,204.00 $19.00 pf
Single + 1 child $1,209.60 $1,228.60 $19.00 pf
Couple (combined) $1,979.00 $2,010.50 $31.50 pf
For each Additional Child add $24.60 $24.60 $0.00 pf
Illness Separated couple (combined) $2,342.00 $2,380.00 $38.00 pf
Pension Disqualifying Asset Limits
Family Situation
Single, homeowner $288,000.00 $290,500.00 $2,500.00
Single, non-homeowner $392,500.00 $395,000.00 $2,500.00
Partnered, homeowner (combined) $443,500.00 $447,500.00 $4,000.00
Partnered, non-homeowner (combined) $548,000.00 $552,000.00 $4,000.00
One partner eligible, homeowner $443,500.00 $447,500.00 $4,000.00
One partner eligible, non-homeowner $548,000.00 $552,000.00 $4,000.00
Illness separated couple, homeowner $492,000.00 $497,000.00 $5,000.00
Illness separated couple, non-homeowner $596,500.00 $601,500.00 $5,000.00
Telephone Allowance
Payable to telephone subscribers in Australia who are eligible for a PCC or CSHC $18.00 $18.60 $0.60 per quarter
Summary of Changes  20 September 2002 – 31 December 2002
Allowance Rates (NSA, WA, PA, SA, MAA, SpB)
Single, 21 or over, no children $369.00 $374.90 $5.90 pf
Single, 21 or over, with children $399.00 $405.40 $6.40 pf
Single, 60 or over, after 9 months $399.00 $405.40 $6.40 pf
Partnered (each) $332.80 $338.10 $5.30 pf
Income Test Cut Offs for NSA, WA, PA, SA & MAA
Family Situation
Single, 21 or over, no children $612.00 $620.43 $8.43 pf
Single, 21 or over, with children $654.86 $664.00 $9.14 pf
Single, 60 or over, after 9 months $654.86 $664.00 $9.14 pf
Partnered (each) $560.29 $567.86 $7.57 pf
CDEP Participation Supplement (CPS) Income Test
CPS is payable if income is below:
Single $741.00 $751.00 $10.00 pf
Couple $682.00 $691.00 $9.00 pf
Total income of both partners must under $1,364.00 $1,382.00 $18.00 pf
Parenting Payment Basic Rates
Sole Parents $421.80 $429.40 $7.60 pf
Partnered Parents $332.80 $338.10 $5.30 pf
Income Test for Parenting Payment
Partner’s Free Area $561.00 $568.00 $7.00 pf
For part payment of additional rate all of the following conditions must be meet:
customer’s income must be less than $589.71 $597.29 $7.58 pf
partner’s income must be less than $1,036.43 $1,051.00 $14.57 pf
combined income must be less than $1,150.71 $1,165.29 $14.58 pf
 Maternity Allowance Basic Rate
 One off lump sum payment $798.72 $811.44 $12.72
Health Care Cards (HCC)
Average weekly income for eight weeks previous to applying:
Single $323.00 $328.00 $5.00 pw
Couple (combined) $539.00 $546.00 $7.00 pw
Single, or couple combined, one child $573.00 $580.00 $7.00 pw
For each additional child $34.00 $34.00 $0.00 pw
Summary of Changes – for Payments under the Social Security Act
Rent Assistance
Maximum Payment per Fortnight
Single, no children $90.60 $92.00 $1.40
Single, no children, sharer $60.40 $61.33 $0.93
Couple, no children $85.40 $86.80 $1.40
Partnered, illness separated, no children $90.60 $92.00 $1.40
Partnered, temporarily separated, no children $85.40 $86.80 $1.40
Rent threshold
Single, no children $80.40 $81.60 $1.20
Single, no children, sharer $80.40 $81.60 $1.20
Couple, no children $131.00 $133.00 $2.00
Partnered, illness separated, no children $80.40 $81.60 $1.20
Partnered, temporarily separated, no children $80.40 $81.60 $1.20
Minimum Rent to get Maximum Payment
Single, no children $201.20 $204.27 $3.07
Single, no children, sharer $160.93 $163.37 $2.44
Couple, no children $244.87 $248.73 $3.86
Partnered, illness separated, no children $201.20 $204.27 $3.07
Partnered, temporarily separated, no children $194.27 $197.33 $3.06
Summary of Changes – for Payments under the Family Assistance Act
Rent Assistance
Maximum Payment per Fortnight
Single, 1 or 2 children $106.26 $107.94 $1.68
Single, 3 or more children $120.12 $122.08 $1.96
Couple, 1 or 2 children $106.26 $107.94 $1.68
Couple, 3 or more children $120.12 $122.08 $1.96
Rent threshold
Single, 1 or 2 children $105.84 $107.52 $1.68
Single, 3 or more children $105.84 $107.52 $1.68
Couple, 1 or 2 children $156.66 $159.18 $2.52
Couple, 3 or more children $156.66 $159.18 $2.52
Minimum Rent to get Maximum Payment
Single, 1 or 2 children $247.52 $251.44 $3.92
Single, 3 or more children $266.00 $270.29 $4.29
Couple, 1 or 2 children $298.34 $303.10 $4.76
Couple, 3 or more children $316.82 $321.95 $5.13
Default Minimums for Shared Care Situations
Maximum Payment per Fortnight
Single $91.00 $92.40 $1.40
Partnered $85.26 $86.66 $1.40
Partnered, Partner in Gaol, Illness Separated Couple, Respite Care Couple $91.00 $92.40 $1.40
Partnered, Temporary Separated $85.26 $86.66 $1.40
Rent threshold
Single $80.50 $81.76 $1.26
Partnered $131.18 $133.28 $2.10
Partnered, Partner in Gaol, Illness Separated Couple, Respite Care Couple $80.50 $81.76 $1.26
Partnered, Temporary Separated $80.50 $81.76 $1.26
Minimum Rent to get Maximum Payment
Single $201.83 $204.96 $3.13
Partnered $244.86 $248.83 $3.97
Partnered, Partner in Gaol, Illness Separated Couple, Respite Care Couple $201.83 $204.96 $3.13
Partnered, Temporary Separated $194.18 $197.31 $3.13