Widow B Pension from 1942, Widow D Pension from 1947 to 1960

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Milestones

Details

1942
June

Widow B Pension introduced

As part of a scheme of widows' pensions, Widow B Pension (WidB) paid to widows who were aged 50 years over and were without dependent children. Included de facto widows who had been living with deceased partner for at least three years prior to his death and had been maintained by him. Eligibility also given to deserted wives who had been deserted for at least six months, divorced women who had not remarried and women whose husbands were in hospitals for the insane. Widow A Pension (WidA) (included in  publication on payments to those with children) paid to those with a dependent child under 16, while Widow C Pension (WidC) paid to widows under 50 with no children for a period of 26 weeks.

Claimants required to be resident in Australia and have resided in Australia continuously for five years immediately prior to application. Aliens and indigenous people of Australia, Africa, the Pacific and New Zealand ineligible. Exclusion did not apply to Aboriginal people who were exempt from state laws 'relating to the control of Aboriginal natives' or who lived in a state where such exemptions did not exist and who were eligible on grounds of 'character, intelligence and development'.

Means test applied to WidB. Possession of property above £50 in value resulted in reduction of annual rate of pension by £1 for every £10 in excess of £50. Widows with property valued above £400 ineligible for WidB. Homes, furniture and personal effects excluded from property value calculation. Pension also reduced by an amount equivalent to any income in excess of £32.10s per annum.

WidB paid four-weekly in arrears and rate subject to quarterly adjustment according to movements in Retail Price Index.

1942
July

WidB exempted from income tax.

1944
April

Quarterly rates adjustment abolished.

1947

July

 

Widow D Pension introduced

WidB paid fortnightly.

Women whose husbands were imprisoned for six or more months and had a dependent child or were over 50 years of age eligible for a Widow D Pension (WidD) which was paid under the same conditions as WidB.

New War Widow's Pension recipients ineligible for WidB. Those already receiving both pensions subject to transitional arrangements.

1950
August

Pensioner Medical Service providing free general practitioner services and medicines introduced.

1952
September

Residency requirement reduced to one year where the couple living permanently in Australia at time of husband’s death.

1956

October

WidB payable to widows who were at least 45 years of age and had lost eligibility for a WidA because youngest child no longer under 16 years of age.

1958
October

Supplementary Assistance payable

Supplementary Assistance of 10 shillings per week available to widows paying rent.

1960
February

WidD abolished

WidD abolished and recipients aged 50 years and over became eligible for WidB. Most restrictions on eligibility of Aboriginal people removed.

1964
October

Pensioner telephone rental concessions, reducing annual rental costs by one-third, introduced.

1966
September

Remaining provisions preventing nomadic Aboriginals receiving a pension repealed. Aliens eligible for pensions.

1968
September

Residency requirement for WidB eligibility removed where widow and her partner had been permanent residents at time of husband’s death. Vocational training scheme for WidB pensioners introduced.

1969

September

Women widowed outside Australia eligible for pension on returning to Australia if had lived in Australia for 10 years continuously at any time.

1971
April

Pension rates increased. Full increase restricted to full-rate pensioners. Those receiving a pension within 50 cents of full rate received half the increase and all others received no increase.

1971
October

Pension rates increased on same basis as those in April, except that in addition half the increase went to those receiving pensions within $1.00 of full rate.

1972
April

Pension rates increased. Those who had not received full increases in 1971 given additional increases to bring them into line with those who had.

1973
July

WidB paid to women of age pension age taxable.

1974
October

Vocational training scheme for widows incorporated into National Employment and Training system.

1975
July

Pensioner Medical Service superseded by eligibility for a range of medical services under Medibank.

1975
October

Widows in de facto relationships ineligible for WidB.

1976
July

WidB subject to income tax.

1976
November

Automatic six-monthly rate increases in May and November, in line with movements in CPI, introduced for basic pension rate.

1978
November

Automatic rate increases made annually in November.

1980
May

Automatic rate increases once again made every six-months in May and November.

1986
December

Rate increases occurred in December and June rather than May and November as had previously been the case.

1987
January

WidB phased out

WidB to be largely phased out over following 15 years. New WidB grants restricted to:

  • those receiving WidB immediately before 1 July 1987
  • those who turned 45 years of age by 1 July 1987, and who received or subsequently received Special Benefit (SpB) or WidA and
  • those aged 50 years and over at 1 July 1987 and who were or subsequently became widows.

Dual eligibility for pensions and Commonwealth education payments ceased. Pensioners studying full-time eligible for an educational supplement of $15 per week.

1987
November

Earnings credit system introduced. Pensioners could save unused portions of income test free area to a limit of $1000. When income exceeded free area credit reduced until depleted. Normal income test then applied again.

1988
January

Fringe benefit (concession card) entitlement could be retained for three months after income exceeded income test limit by no more than 25 per cent.

1989
November

Indexation timing for WidB brought forward in several stages to March and September, with process was completed in September 1990.

1991
January

WidB recipients required to provide tax file number.

1992
January

Austudy supplement of $60 pf for pensioners studying full-time extended to those studying part-time.

1992
July

Telephone allowance of $51.80 per household per year replaced telephone rental voucher scheme.

1993
January

Education entry payment of $200 introduced for WidB recipients eligible for education supplement.

1993
April

Eligibility for fringe benefits (concession cards) extended to all part-rate pensioners.

1996
July

WidB recipients able to receive advance payment of allowance, from $250 to $1000, in certain situations. Allowance then reduced over subsequent six to 12 months to for repayment of advance payment.

1997
January

WidB closed

No new WidB grants after 20 March. WidB recipients automatically transferred to Age Pension on reaching age pension age provided they and their partners were Australian residents at time WidB recipient widowed.

Advance payments restricted to amounts up to $500 and limited to one each 12 months.

1997

September

Rate of pension to be maintained at greater than or equal to 25 per cent of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE). If regular CPI indexation results in a lower rate, pension increased to this benchmark.

2000
July

GST compensation

Pension rate increased as part of a package of measures to compensate for impact of GST introduction. A pension supplement equivalent to four per cent of maximum rate at July 2000 paid to all pensioners. Indexation provisions adjusted so that half of four per cent increase was an advance on whatever rate increase occurred in March 2001. Increased rate provided as a supplement so that it would not be included when pension rate was adjusted in line with benchmark of 25 per cent of MTAWE. This ensured that maximum rate of pension plus supplement would always be more than 25 per cent of MTAWE.

2007
August

Income management

Allowances could be subject to income management in Northern Territory and Cape York. Income management involved diversion of 50 per cent of a recipient’s income support into an account that could only be drawn on to pay for priority needs, such as food, clothes and rent.

2008
December

Recipients received economic security strategy payments of $1400—part of the Economic Security Strategy to boost the economy after the GFC.

2009
July

Definition of ‘member of a couple’ changed to include same-sex couples.

2009
September

Secure and sustainable pension reform

Maximum rate increased by $30 per week. Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index used to adjust pension rates in September and March each year, when it produces a larger increase than CPI or MTAWE.

2010
March

The 25 per cent of MTAWE benchmark used to ensure pension rates kept pace with earnings growth adjusted to take account of September 2009 increase in pension rate. That increase had pushed rate well above existing benchmark. A new benchmark was set for combined Age Pension couple rate at 41.67 per cent of MTAWE. Single rate benchmarked at 66.33 per cent of couple rate (effectively 27.7 per cent of MTAWE).

2010
April

Disadvantaged income support recipients able to receive payments weekly rather than fortnightly.

2012
June

Clean Energy Advance paid to compensate pensioners for expected impact of Carbon Tax.

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