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Living alone super payment stupid and unfair

Hon Nick Smith National Party MP

14 February 2005

Living alone super payment stupid and unfair

Nelson MP Nick Smith today lodged a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission on behalf of an elderly constituent who has been denied the living- alone payment because his wife is in a rest home and still recognises him.

"Labour's policy, announced last year, is stupid and unfair. It should make no difference to eligibility whether the husband or wife is in rest home care because of physical or mental disability," says Dr Smith.

"It is insulting that WINZ is advising people that to get the living-alone payment they need to divorce lifelong partners who require rest home care."

Dr Smith laid the complaint on behalf of elderly Nelson constituent Stan Page (91), who has been married to his wife, Nancy (88), for 70 years.

Mrs Page has had to go into rest home care because of physical impairment, leaving Mr Page at home alone. Mr Page applied to WINZ for the living-alone payment that would increase his weekly New Zealand Superannuation from $191.61 per week to $249.09 per week, but was declined because his wife still recognises him. Mr Page subsequently sought Dr Smith's help.

"It is bizarre that if Mrs Page had dementia or was in prison, Mr Page would be eligible," says Dr Smith.

"There will be hundreds of New Zealand superannuitants whose wife or husband has gone into care who are affected by this iniquitous policy.

"Labour should recognise that its new policy is blatantly unfair and change it. If not, the Human Rights Commission should declare the discrimination unlawful," says Dr Smith.

Ends

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