By: Harmohan Singh Walia
Harman Foundation organised Seniors Rights Services seminar at Glenwood Hub on Sunday, 7 August 2016. Around 150 seniors attended the seminar. After registration of participants, Sarabjit Singh Paul welcomed the participants and provided information on Harman Foundation and its activities. Amrit Varsha translated the English version of the Seminar in Punjabi.
Senior Constable Sue Carter, Crime Prevention Officer, Quakers Hill delivered a brief speech on Police Role in Elder Care followed by a speech on Centrelink Services and Support by Raji Selvakumar, Financial Information and Services Officer. Raji imparted some of the important information to participants as follows:
1. Age requirement for Age Pension
To be eligible for Age Pension you must be 65 years of age or more. From 1 July 2017, the qualifying age for Age Pension will increase from 65 years to 65 years and 6 months. The qualifying age will then increase by 6 months every 2 years, reaching 67 years by 1 July 2023.
2. Residence requirement for Age Pension
To be eligible for Age Pension you must satisfy residence requirements. On the day you submit your claim, you must be:
• an Australian resident, and • physically present in Australia
You also need to have been an Australian resident for a continuous period of at least 10 years, or for a number of periods that total more than 10 years with one of the periods being at least 5 years, unless you:
• are a refugee or former refugee. • were getting Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance or Widow B Pension immediately before turning age pension age, or • are a woman whose partner died while you were both Australian residents, and you have been an Australian resident for 2 years immediately before claiming Age Pension.
You may also meet the residence requirements if you have lived or worked in a country with which Australia has an International social security agreement.
3. Income test for pensions
Your income can affect the amount of payment you receive from Centrelink. You have to declare everything including your overseas assets and bank accounts to Centrelink, while claiming pension.
4. Asset test for Age Pension
There is a different asset test for home owners and non-home owners. If you are retired your major asset may be the home you live in. Centrelink does not count your home as an asset when calculating your pension if it is your “principal place of residence”. This can include a granny flat, carvan, motor home or houseboat. Your principal place of residence is regarded as an “exempt asset”.
Lastly, speeches were delivered by Margaret Small and Nalika Padmasena, Solicitors, Senior Rights Service on the topic of “What to consider when planning ahead” and followed by Q & A.
When you think about the future, you may take it for granted that you will be able to make your own decisions. But have you considered what would happen to your financial and personal affairs if you were involved in a bad accident, had a stroke or developed dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease or other illness?
The reality is that things happen in life that mean you may not be able to make decisions for yourself. The law calls this loosing “mental capacity”.
Rather than viewing this as a depressing subject that you’d rather avoid, you could take the opportunity now to plan ahead while you are still well and healthy and able to do so. This is important not just for yourself, but could also spare the people you care about much difficulty, anxiety and expense. For this, you must do the following:
1. Make a Will 2. Make a Power of Attorney 3. Appoint an Enduring Gaurdian
You can get free legal help by calling LawAccess NSW at 1300 888 529. For any Seniors Rights Services call 1800 424 079.
Tea/Coffee and refreshments were served in the Break by volunteers of Harman Foundation.
Some useful contacts as follows:
1. My Age Care – 1800 200 422 2. NSW Health – 1800 639 398 3. Centrelink Age Pension & Retirement – 132 300 4. Centrelink Customer Relations – 1800 050 004 5. Dementia Helpline – 1800 699 799 6. Grief & Crisis Support – 9489 6644 7. Seniors Combined Pensioners – 1800 451 488 8. NSW Elder Abuse Helpline Resource Unit – 1800 628 221 9. People with disabilities NSW – 1800 251 015 10. Welfare Rights Centre – 1800 226 028