Changes to pension eligibility
From 1 January 2017, the asset test for the pensions has been tightened, meaning that the pension will no longer be paid to people with single people with assets of $542,500 (homeowner) and $742,500 (non-homeowner) and couples with assets of $816,000 (homeowners) and $1,016,000 (non-homeowners).
Centrelink information indicates that people who were receiving a pension prior to 1 January and who are no longer eligible will have their Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) cancelled. These people will automatically receive a non-income tested Health Care Card (HCC).
The NSW Department of Industry Resources & Energy Division has confirmed that this HCC does not provide eligibility for the energy rebate and that these customers will have their current rebate removed whenever the retailer runs the data matching with Centrelink. They will not be able to apply using the non-income tested Health Care Card (HCC).
Sydney Water and Hunter Water do not offer a rebate to HCC holders. Therefore people who lost their entitlement to a PCC on 1 January also lost their entitlement to a water rebate.
Sydney Water has written to all affected customers and informed them that they are no longer eligible for the pensioner rebate. Sydney Water will pay the rebate for the current quarter 1 Jan – 31 March to allow some adjustment period.
Sydney Water has also identified some customers receiving this letter may not have previously claimed the rebate and may ask to have it backdated from 1 January 2017. Even though they are no longer entitled and have not previously applied for a rebate; as a good faith gesture and where these customers can provide the relevant information, Sydney Water may apply a rebate for the current quarter (January to March 2017) and a backdate for the 12 months to January 2016 where entitled.
Hunter Water has the following information on their website:
Hunter Water will undertake an eligibility check in mid-February with Centrelink, and those customers that are no longer in receipt of the concession card will have their water rebate stopped as at 28 February 2017. This means that if you receive your water bill between 1 January and 28 February 2017 the rebate will still apply even though your status has changed.
In March those affected will receive a notification from Hunter Water advising that you are no longer eligible and the rebate has been cancelled. There is no need to make further contact with Hunter Water about this unless this situation changes.