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Older NZ'ers to benefit from Bills’ passing

27 June 2006

Older New Zealanders to benefit from Bills’ passing

A significant extension package that will benefit older New Zealanders has been passed in Parliament today.

Minister for Social Development and Employment David Benson-Pope welcomed the third reading of both the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Amendment Bill and the War Pensions Amendment Bill both of which he says will ensure fairer and more equitable treatment of older New Zealanders.

“Again this government is giving our senior citizens a fairer deal,” said Mr Benson-Pope.

“The Labour-led government is, with these Bills, rectifying an unfair situation and ensuring fairer treatment of older New Zealanders.

“It’s important to note that the National Party Minister for Senior Citizens Peter Gresham, investigated such a policy and had it costed in 1995 but failed to deliver. Since we became government, we have corrected for older New Zealanders the injustices and unfairness of the 1990s under the National government.”

The main aim of the Bills is to extend eligibility for the higher single rates of New Zealand Superannuation and Veterans’ Pensions to all superannuitants and veterans’ pensioners living in the community who have a spouse in long-term residential care.

The extension will ensure a fairer treatment for as many as 2000 superannuitants and veterans’ pensioners living in the community who have a spouse or partner in long-term residential care.

Other amendments include:

- the removal of the sharing expenses rule which currently prevents some superannuitants from receiving the living alone payment

- enabling a person to be paid New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran’s Pension for up to 156 weeks if they are carrying out volunteer work overseas for a recognised aid agency, such as Volunteer Service Abroad. Currently the maximum payment period for such work is 52 weeks.

- enabling all rates of Veterans’ Pensions to be increased by Order in Council. This change will align the legislative provisions for making adjustments to the rates of Veterans’ Pensions with those for New Zealand Superannuation under the Social Security Act 1964.

The changes will come into effect on 1 July 2006.

ENDS

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