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News for Seniors Issue 93 - November 2014
Issue 93 | NOVEMBER 2014
News For Seniors
A publication offering information, guidance and inspiration to Australian senior citizens
Read about champion race walker Heather Lee
Stay safe onlineuseful tips
Keep up-to-date with news for older Australians
Lets talk about aged care
Are you using prescription medicines?
Keeping your financial affairs in order
A message from the Prime Minister3
A message from the Minister4
myGovits easy and convenient!5
Stay safe online6
Keep up-to-date with news for older Australians8
Information in your language9
News in brief10
Lets talk about aged care12
Financial support for carers13
Feature storyJourney of a lifetime14
Are you using prescription medicines?17
New vision loss website18
Keeping your financial affairs in order 20
Changes to the assessment of account-based income streams22
We can help you claim a pension from another country23
Letter from the General Manager26
News for Seniors subscription
If you would like to receive a copy of News for Seniors, call 132 300. You can also change your address by writing to: Seniors Hub, PO Box 7808, Canberra BC, ACT 2610.
Department of Veterans Affairs customers should call 133 254 or Freecall 1800 555 254.
If you would like to receive News for Seniors in a language other than English, call 131 202. If you have a vision impairment and would prefer to receive an audio version, call 132 300.
To view English and non-English versions, go to humanservices.gov.au/newsforseniors
DISCLAIMER: The Australian Government has attempted to ensure the information in this publication is accurate. However, the government does not warrant that the information is accurate or complete nor will it be liable for any loss suffered by any person because they rely on it in any way. You should contact your local Department of Human Services office or Department of Veterans Affairs state office for full details of any entitlements and services to which you may be eligible, or how any pending changes in legislation, programs or services may affect you. Commonwealth of Australia 2014. ISSN 1033-8365
A message from the Prime Minister
The Government was elected on a commitment that we would scrap the carbon tax.
I am pleased to report to you that the carbon tax has now been scrapped.
Scrapping the carbon tax is a key part of the Governments Economic Action Strategy to build a strong, prosperous economy for a safe, secure Australia.
Scrapping the carbon tax will save the average household $550 a year.
With the carbon tax gone, seniors will be better off.
The Bureau of Statistics has reported that, since the repeal of the carbon tax, households and businesses have benefited from the largest fall in power prices since records began.
This is good news for your weekly budget.
Pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders will continue to keep the carbon tax compensation. But with the carbon tax scrapped, this is now real cost of living relief not just compensation for a tax hike.
The Energy Supplement, a permanent tax-exempt payment that was introduced to compensate for the ongoing impacts of the carbon tax on living expenses, will stay.
This is currently $366.60 for singles and $275.60 for each member of a couple per year.
The Pension Supplement remains available and it will also continue to be indexed twice a year.
I know in recent times there have been some false claims made about changes to the Age Pension.
So let me reassure you with some of the facts.
The pension will continue to increase twice a year, every year. Every March and every September the pension will increase and there will be no changes to the indexation arrangements in this term of Parliament.
In March this year, the maximum rate of the pension increased $15.70 a fortnight for single pensioners and $11.90 a fortnight for each member of a couple.
In September this year, the maximum rate of the pension increased $11.50 a fortnight for single pensioners and $8.70 a fortnight for each member of a couple.
Australians are living longer and healthier lives, so the Government is determined to ensure that our pension system is sustainable over the long term.
Thats why the Government is proposing from 2017 pensions be indexed to the rate of inflation rather than wages. This is already the case with other social security benefits and the pension will still continue to increase each and every year.
The Budget is about ensuring we build a stronger Australia. Governments, like households, must live within their means.
I am determined to fix our nations finances and strengthen the economy so that future generations arent saddled with the burden of debt and deficit.
We want to do the right thing by your children and grandchildren.
A message from the Minister
Welcome to another edition of News for Seniors.
This edition gives you more information about the services available to you and your families.
It also has a special supplement which outlines the growing range of digital options that can help you find and access the services you need, without having to call Centrelink or Medicare, or visit a service centre.
I encourage you to take the time to read the supplement, create a myGov account and start using the departments digital services. If you dont have a home computer or smart phone you can always visit one of our service centres and use one of our computers with the assistance of a friendly staff member.
I also want to take this opportunity to address a number of questions that people have raised about the changes to the Age Pension announced in the Federal Budget.
In particular, it is important that people understand what the Government is proposing as part of its strategy to ensure that our pension system is sustainable over the long term.
I hope you find the following information useful.
Will my Age Pension go down?
The Age Pension rate will continue to increase in March and September each and every year as it does now. From September 2017, the Government is proposing that the Age Pension will be indexed in line with the Consumer Price Index. This will mean that pension rates will increase with the cost of living and that the Age Pension is sustainable into the future.
Will I still receive my Age Pension Supplement?
Yes. Age pensioners will continue to receive the Pension Supplement and it will continue to be indexed twice a year. The supplement is currently up to $1651 a year for singles and up to $2490.80 a year for couples.
Will I keep the supplements/benefits paid for the carbon tax?
Yes. Even though we have abolished the carbon tax, the Energy Supplement, currently $366.60 a year for singles and $275.60 for each member of a couple, will remain.
Will there be changes to the pension income and assets tests?
Yes. The Government is proposing that the income and assets test free areas be fixed for a period of three years from 1 July 2017 and that, from 20 September 2017, the deeming thresholds for payments that are means tested be reset to $30,000 for singles and $50,000 for couples.
The changes are designed to ensure that the Age Pension is well-targeted into the future.
Will the Age Pension age increase?
Yes. Under changes made by the previous Government, the Age Pension qualifying age will be 67 on 1 July 2023.
To ensure the Age Pension remains sustainable, the Coalition Government is proposing to increase it by six months every two years from 1 July 2025 until 1 July 2035 when the qualifying age will reach 70.
People born before 1 July 1958 will not be affected by these latest changes.
Where do I go for more information?
There is more information about the Age Pension and the other services available to older Australians at humanservices.gov.au/budget
TECHNOLOGY | ONLINE
myGovits easy and convenient!
The digital supplement included with this issue of News for Seniors tells you step-by-step how to create a myGov account and link government services. Linking means you can access a range of services from one location, with one username and password.
We have some useful tips that will make the process even easier for you!
At any time you get stuck, click on need help? at the top right hand corner. Youll see this on every page of the website.
If you share an email address with your partner, or another member of your household, youll need to create a new email address so that you can create your own myGov account. Use an internet search engine to find out how to create an email account (it will only take a minute or two).
When you create a password, it needs to be at least seven characters long and have at least one number. You can also use any of the following characters in your password: ! @ # $ % ^ & *. To make your password more secure, dont repeat the same character or have sequential characters. For example, AAAAA or 1234.
Make sure your password isnt easy to guess and keep it safe. If you forget your password, select the link on the myGov signin page to create a new one.
When you follow the steps to link your government services, have your Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN) or Medicare card handy, as well as other additional documents like your bank statement. You might also need information about your re