Concern over pension changes

Seniors 'punished for saving' under changes to pension

TOOWOOMBA seniors are being "punished" for saving their money under new changes to the pension, according to advocacy and community groups.

Residents on the part-pension have been left in the dark about whether they'll be affected by changes on January 1, with organisations reporting little correspondence from the Federal Government.

Under new rules, pensioners with assets worth more than the new thresholds will lose $3 of their payments for every $1000 over, up from $1.50.

Toowoomba Senior Citizens president Jack Hetherton says they have been left in the dark about changes to the pension.
Toowoomba Senior Citizens president Jack Hetherton says they have been left in the dark about changes to the pension. Kevin Farmer

Toowoomba Senior Citizens Centre president Jack Hetherton questioned both the decision to punish people who have saved their money as well as the timing of the changes.

"I think it stinks - it is unfair (and) it's very poor timing from the government," he said.

"We've got no official communication through our office. It's been poorly handled.

"They (seniors) built this country, and now they're getting handicapped. They're being penalised for achieving."

While houses are not counted toward assets in the test, superannuation, vehicles, shares and other equity was counted towards the threshold.

Toowoomba Senior Citizens president Jack Hetherton is concerned how changes to the pension will impact his members.
Toowoomba Senior Citizens president Jack Hetherton is concerned how changes to the pension will impact his members. Kevin Farmer

Doug, who did not wish his name to be printed, said he and his wife would lose a combined $200 a fortnight under the changes.

While he said the reduction was manageable, he felt for others who were in worse situations.

"We should lose about $200, but we don't know for sure until we receive our payments. It could be a fraction more than that," he said.

"We will watch more carefully, because it means we might have to liquidate our assets.

"We're on a part-pension already, but we'll have to draw more on our capital.

"I feel so sorry for those who can't pay their power, phone or internet, and they're getting stung by this."

Fellow pensioner Irene Bridgeman, who does not expect to be affected, said none of her friends had received any correspondence - something that had caused undue stress.

"We should've received paperwork by now, but we haven't and it's leaving people in the dark," he said.

"I think it's leaving people up in limbo.

"They will only tell us when we get our next pension in January - they've not advised us specifically."

A Department of Human Services spokeswoman said the 90 per cent of people not affected by the changes would not receive any letters from the Government.

Toowoomba zone chair of the National Seniors Association Hazel Gillies said any concerned pensioners should remain calm.


Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Dream of a blissful new life has quickly turned into a nightmare

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Thousands of Melbourne public housing residents have been provided with "detention...

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

This man miraculously survived the 9/11 terror attacks