New eligibility rules for the Age Pension and Disability Support Pension (DSP) are before Parliament and should come into effect on 1 July 2018.
The Enhanced Residency Requirements for Pensioners laws will save the Government and taxpayers around $119 million a year, but will not affect 98 per cent of Age Pension and DSP recipients.
Under the new rules, recipients will need to have:
- 10 continuous years of Australian residence including five working years, or
- 10 continuous years of residence without having claimed any income support for five years or more, or
- 15 years of continuous Australian residence.
Currently, Age Pension and DSP recipients are required to have 10 years’ Australian residency, including five continuous years.
A Department of Social Services spokesperson said the changes were intended to prevent taxpayers from having to support migrants who arrive just prior to retirement age or who have spent their time in Australia receiving income support, such as Newstart.
“Welfare reform is essential to ensure Australia has a welfare system that remains financially sustainable for future generations,” the spokesperson said.
However, certain exemptions will remain in place, such as for humanitarian entrants, disability support for anyone hurting themselves after arriving in Australia and special benefits for anyone experiencing financial hardship.
However, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) has criticised the legislation saying it will impose considerable hardship on vulnerable migrants at a time when they need support.
“FECCA believes that this move will create an underclass of migrants – new arrivals who find themselves at even more risk financially as they try to settle into Australia,” said FECCA Chairperson Mary Patetsos.
“These changes make it harder for migrants to settle in this country—for the sake of what is a relatively modest government budget saving.”
What do you think of the new rules? Will they affect you?