Widow C Pension, 1942 to 1989, Widowed Person Allowance, 1989 to 1995, Bereavement Allowance from 1995

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Milestones

Details

1942
June

As part of a broader scheme of widows’ pensions, a weekly temporary allowance of £1.5s. introduced for widows aged under 50 years without dependent children and paid during first 26 weeks after husband’s death. De facto widows who had lived with deceased partner for at least three years prior to his death also eligible.

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'.

A hardship test applied. Widows with liquid assets above £50 (after payment of funeral expenses) ineligible. Allowance paid four-weekly in arrears and rate adjusted quarterly according to movements in Retail Price Index.

1942
July

Temporary Allowance exempted from income tax.

1944
April

Quarterly rates adjustment abolished.

1947
July

Temporary Allowance renamed Widow C Pension (WidC) and paid fortnightly.

1950
August

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

1952
September

WidC recipients pregnant to deceased husbands eligible for WidC until they gave birth. Residency requirement reduced to one year where the couple were living permanently in Australia at time of husband’s death.

1958
October

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

1960
February

Most restrictions on eligibility of Aboriginal people removed.

1968
September

Residency requirement removed where widow and her husband had been permanent residents at time of husband’s death.

1969
September

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

1975
October

Widows in de facto relationships ineligible for WidC.

1976
July

WidC 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.

1989
March

WidC replaced by Widowed Person's Allowance

WidC replaced by Widowed Person's Allowance (WPA). Widowed people, male and female, eligible for WPA for 14 weeks after spouse’s death. Widows pregnant at time of spouse’s death eligible for WPA until child’s birth. De facto widows also eligible. No other pension, benefit or allowance could be paid concurrently. Pension assets and income tests applied.

1993
April

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

1995
January

WPA renamed Bereavement Allowance

Widowed Person's Allowance renamed Bereavement Allowance (BA).

Refugees not required to live in Australia for a set period to qualify for BA.

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 Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (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.

2010

The 25 per cent of average weekly earnings benchmark used to ensure that single pension rates kept pace with earnings growth was adjusted to take account of the September 2009 increase in the pension rate. That increase had pushed the single rate well above the existing benchmark. A new benchmark was set for the 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
January

Those who qualified for Parenting Payment (Partnered) also eligible for BA on partner’s death.

2012
April

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

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