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Factsheet IS03 - Income Support Supplement Overview

Purpose

This Factsheet explains what income support supplement (ISS) is, what the eligibility criteria are, and provides information on associated benefits. For more information on specific topics contact DVA.

What is income support supplement (ISS)?

ISS provides a regular income in addition to the war widow(er)'s pension for Australian war widow(er)'s with limited means. This includes wholly dependent partners under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) with limited means. The payment is subject to an income and assets test.

Eligibility for the income support supplement

To be eligible for ISS you must be an Australian war widow(er) or a wholly dependent partner under the MRCA.

Who can claim income support supplement?

To make a proper claim for ISS you must be:

  • an Australian resident; and
  • in Australia at the time of lodging your claim.

If you are outside Australia at the time of the claim, you will only be eligible for income support supplement where you:

  • are receiving a service pension or a social security pension; and
  • would be eligible for ISS if that pension were cancelled.

When is income support supplement payable?

Even if you meet the eligibility criteria, ISS may not be payable because of your income and assets (refer to the section titled 'Income and assets tests' in this Factsheet). Blind ISS recipients are exempt from the income and assets tests.

No age requirement

There is no age requirement for ISS eligibility.

However, your age may be relevant for some income and assets rules and for taxation purposes. In those circumstances, the age that applies for ISS recipients will be specified and explained in the applicable factsheets.

Eligibility for the income support supplement - invalidity

ISS may be granted on the basis of invalidity if you are permanently incapacitated for work. Invalidity ISS paid to a person who is under age pension age is non-taxable income (refer to the next section titled 'What is age pension age?').

The criteria for permanent incapacity are:

  • you are permanently blind in both eyes (even if working); or
  • you have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability; and
    • the disability(ies), assessed under the Impairment Tables in Schedule 1B of the Social Security Act 1991, is assessed at 20 points or more; and
    • you are unable to work for at least 30 hours per week; and
    • the disability(ies) alone prevents you from working for the next 2 years.

What is age pension age?

Age pension age for non-veterans will increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 on 1 July 2023. The age at which a person becomes entitled to an age pension is as per the table below:

Male and Female Non-Veterans
If your date of birth is on or between: Then your pension age is:
Before 1 July 1952 65 years
1 July 1952 to 31 December 1953 65 years and 6 months
1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955 66 years
1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956 66 years and 6 months
On or after 1 January 1957 67 years

Am I eligible for the income support supplement if I receive a war widow's or widower's pension from another country?

If you are eligible for an Australian war widow(er)'s pension but receive a war widow(er)'s pension from another country, you may be eligible for ISS.

However, ISS is not payable if you are the recipient of a war widow(er)'s pension paid by a country other than Australia and you do not have eligibility for an Australian war widow's or widow(er)'s pension. You should contact your nearest Centrelink office to find out whether you are eligible for an income support payment under social security law.

Is income support supplement payable to partners of war widows, widowers or wholly dependent partners?

ISS can only be paid to Australian war widow(er)'s and wholly dependent partners. If you are the partner of a war widow, widower or wholly dependent partner, you are not eligible for ISS, unless you are yourself a war widow, widower or wholly dependent partner.

Income support supplement and age pension

You cannot receive ISS as well as a service pension, age pension or any other social security pension or benefit. You can, however, receive the Family Tax Benefit and/or Child Care Benefit from the Centrelink if you are eligible.

ISS was introduced in order to enable Australian war widows and widowers to receive all their payments from DVA. Social security pensions and allowances are not payable to Australian war widow or widower pension recipients or wholly dependent partners.

How do I claim ISS?

If you are planning to claim ISS, you should telephone DVA and advise of your intention to claim so that your ISS may be granted from the earliest date possible.

If you telephone DVA, enquiry staff will be able to assist you by:

  • Recording your intent to claim;
  • Providing information to assist you to create your own personalised MyAccount for managing all of your dealings with DVA, including lodging claims;
  • Providing guidance on lodging an online claim through the DVA website at www.dva.gov.au; or
  • Tailoring a hard copy claim pack to be posted to you for completion; or
  • Arranging an appointment at a local Veterans' Information Service or Veterans' Access Network office where an officer can assist you to lodge your claim.

For more information on claiming ISS, please refer to the Factsheet IS04 How to Claim Income Support Supplement.

Automatic grant of ISS to certain war widow(er)'s and wholly dependent partners

If you are automatically granted war widow(er)'s pension or a wholly dependent partner payment and you and the deceased were both receiving service pension and/or age pension paid by DVA, then your pension will be cancelled and ISS will be automatically granted if you satisfy the income and assets test.

Rate of income support supplement

The maximum amount of ISS payable to both singles and members of a couple is currently $278.50 per fortnight (the ceiling rate). The ceiling rate of ISS is indexed in March and September each year.

If your war widow(er)'s pension is reduced because of a compensation payment, the ceiling rate of ISS may be increased.

Income and assets tests

The amount of ISS you receive depends on your financial circumstances. The pension is calculated under two separate tests -  the income test and the assets test. The test paying the lower rate of pension is the one that is applied.

Further information regarding the income and assets tests generally can be found in Factsheets IS87 Income Test Overview and IS88 Asset Test Overview.

When working out your rate of ISS, your war widow(er)'s pension or wholly dependent partner payment is counted as income. If you receive any disability pensions paid by other governments, they are also counted as income for ISS purposes. If you are a member of a couple and your partner receives a war widow(er)'s pension, wholly dependent partner payment or a disability pension from another government, then those pension(s) are also counted as income for ISS purposes.

*Note: If you or your partner has received the wholly dependent partner's payment as a lump sum or partial lump sum, the weekly equivalent of that lump sum is counted as income for ISS purposes.

If you are considered blind for ISS purposes, the ISS is paid free of the income and assets tests and at the ceiling rate. However, it should be noted that if you are in a residential aged care facility your income will be considered when working out the fees that you pay.

Work Bonus

The work bonus is an incentive to encourage older pensioners who are able to do so, to continue working. Under the work bonus rules, the first $250 of employment income earned per fortnight is excluded from the income test.

For more information on Work Bonus refer to Factsheet IS99 Work Bonus.

Effect of DVA disability pension on rate of ISS rent assistance

Neither the DVA disability pension nor a permanent impairment payment made under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 or the MRCA is included in the assessment of your ISS. However, if you or your partner receive one of these payments, it may affect the amount of any rent assistance payable.

For more information on rent assistance, refer to Factsheet IS74 Renting and Rent Assistance

Giving away assets or income

Generally speaking, you can give away assets up to:

  • $10,000 each financial year, but no more than
  • $30,000 over a rolling five-year period,

without affecting your pension or income support supplement.

Both limits apply whether you are single or a member of a couple. If you give away more than either limit, the excess amount above either limit will be counted as a financial asset under the assets test, and will be deemed to be earning income under the income test, for 5 years from when the assets were given away.

For more information on giving away assets or income, refer to Factsheet IS92 Giving away Income or Assets.

What if I have too much income or too many assets?

If you have a high level of income or assets that prevents you from receiving ISS under either the income or the assets test, you may be able to receive ISS through:

  • the Pension Loans Scheme; or
  • the Hardship Provisions.

For more information refer to Factsheet IS116 Pension Loans Scheme or Factsheet IS117 Financial Hardship or contact DVA.

If your assets exceed the ISS cut-off limit, but your adjusted taxable income is within the seniors health card income test limits and you are of qualifying age, you may be eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. For more information refer to Factsheet IS126 Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or contact DVA.

Tax file number

You need to provide your tax file number to DVA so that we can ensure that ISS is only paid to eligible persons. The tax file number is used in the data matching program, where we compare our records with those of other government agencies, such as the Australian Taxation Office or Centrelink.

If you do not have a tax file number and are not eligible for an exemption you will need to apply for a tax file number through the Australian Taxation Office.

Allowances

There are a number of allowances payable to eligible pensioners, including:

  • pension supplement -  may be payable to ISS recipients. May be reduced under the income and assets tests or if you go overseas for an extended period. For more information refer to Factsheet IS12 Supplements and Allowances;
  • rent assistance -  payable to ISS recipients who pay private rent for their accommodation, subject to minimum rent limits. For more information refer to Factsheet IS74 Renting and Rent Assistance; and
  • remote area allowance -  payable to ISS recipients who live in designated remote areas of Australia. For more information refer to Factsheet IS12 Supplements and Allowances.

*Note: - DVA does not pay Family Tax Benefit. If you have dependent children and wish to enquire about this benefit you should contact Centrelink on 136 150.

What happens when my claim is decided?

DVA will determine whether you are eligible and then work out how much ISS you will be receiving based on your personal circumstances. When a decision has been made you will be notified by letter. This will include the decision and, if applicable, the date of grant and amount of ISS you will receive. Your pensioner concession card will be issued at the same time.

Your ISS may be backdated to the grant date of your war widow(er)'s or wholly dependent partner's pension if the social security payment or benefit you were previously receiving is cancelled as a result of the commencement the of war widow(er)'s or wholly dependent partner's pension.

What if I am not happy with the decision?

If your claim for ISS is not approved, or you don't believe you are receiving the correct rate of ISS, you have the right to ask that we review the decision. You may apply to have the decision reviewed by a Review Officer. If you decide to apply for a review, you must do so within 3 months of receiving the letter notifying you of our decision in relation to your income support pension. Your request for a review must set out in writing your reasons for seeking the review.

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the Review Officer's decision, you may apply in writing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of that decision. Your application should set out the reasons for your appeal and should be lodged with the Tribunal within 3 months of the date you receive the Review Officer's decision in relation to your income support pension.

Pensioner Concession Card

All ISS recipients receive a pensioner concession card. This card entitles pensioners to a range of Australian Government, State and local government benefits and concessions. These concessions vary from state to state, and are determined by the authorities providing the concessions.

Contact DVA for a Factsheet explaining the concessions available in your State.

Health care

As a war widow or widower or wholly dependent partner, you are entitled to treatment and health services for all conditions, at the expense of the Department. This health care is provided through the Gold Card.

For further information on the Gold Card, refer to Factsheet HSV60 Using the DVA Health Card All Conditions (Gold) or DVA Health Card Totally & Permanently Incapacitated (Gold).

Is my income support supplement taxable?

ISS is taxable except when it is granted on the grounds of invalidity and you have not yet reached age pension age.

If your pension is taxable, you will receive a payment summary from DVA at the end of each financial year.

For more on the taxation status of allowances payable with the ISS, refer to Factsheet IS85 Taxation and your DVA Payments.

Your obligations

As an ISS recipient you have a responsibility to keep us informed of changes that may affect the amount of pension you receive. These responsibilities are described in our Factsheets, 'You and Your Pension' and letters to you as 'obligations'.

In order to meet your obligations, you need to tell DVA within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) if:

  • your residential situation changes;
  • your marital situation changes;
  • you receive the maximum rate pension and your income exceeds the adjusted income free area and/or your assets exceed the assets value limit;
  • you receive a reduced rate pension and your income and/or assets exceed the limits stated in our most recent letter to you about your ISS;
  • you move or travel overseas; or
  • there is any other change that would affect the rate of your ISS.

Fulfilling your obligations within the specified time period ensures your ISS is paid at the correct rate.

Can I apply for an increase in my income support supplement?

Yes. If you receive ISS at a reduced rate you may apply for an increase in your rate of pension any time there is a change in your circumstances. You can do this by contacting DVA.

Arranging your affairs

It is advisable to keep all your important papers, such as wills, birth certificates, and mortgage papers, in a safe place known to family and friends. A folder containing information to assist you in arranging your affairs, called Planning Ahead -  A Guide to Putting Your Affairs in Order, is available from DVA or ex-service organisations such as the RSL or Legacy.

Bereavement Payments

Additional financial assistance, in the form of a bereavement payment and/or a funeral benefit, may be provided to the surviving partner, or to a pensioner's estate, immediately after the death of a pensioner, or to the parent(s) in respect of the death of a dependent child.

Freedom of information

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI) you may seek access to documents held by DVA, including information about yourself. This means that you can look at any of the files relating to you held by DVA and ask for copies of documents.

You need to apply in writing and there is an application fee of $30.00. However, the fee does not apply if the documents you need relate to claims for, or increases to your pension. The application Form D8601 Freedom of Information Application for Access to Documents is available at DVA offices and on our website.

Privacy

The Privacy Act 1988 governs the collection and handling of personal information by Australian Government agencies, including DVA, and the process is overseen by the Privacy Commissioner to ensure the rights of individuals are protected.

More Information

DVA General Enquiries

Phone: 1800 555 254 *

Email: GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au

DVA Website: www.dva.gov.au

Factsheet Website: www.dva.gov.au/factsheets

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.

Related Factsheets

Related Forms

Disclaimer

The information contained in this Factsheet is general in nature and does not take into account individual circumstances. You should not make important decisions, such as those that affect your financial or lifestyle position on the basis of information contained in this Factsheet. Where you are required to lodge a written claim for a benefit, you must take full responsibility for your decisions prior to the written claim being determined. You should seek confirmation in writing of any oral advice you receive from DVA.

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27 March 2019