Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Ministry of Social Development
New Zealand Super and Veteran’s Pension clients who travelled to Australia during the quarantine-free travel period and are now unable to return home can apply for their payments to continue while overseas.
“We understand the unique and challenging situation that superannuitants who left for Australia while the travel bubble was open are in because of its prolonged closure,” Ministry of Social Development Chief Executive Debbie Power says.
“Although advice was always clear that MIQ could be a possibility in the event the travel bubble closed, the scale of demand for those spaces and the difficulties superannuitants are facing has only recently become apparent.
“We’ve been keeping a close eye on the situation, and now feel that superannuitants who travelled to Australia during the quarantine-free travel period could not have reasonably foreseen they would be unable to return for a period greater than six months, even if the bubble closed.”
As a result, MSD will now consider applications on a case-by-case basis for NZ Super and Veteran’s Pension payments to continue beyond the 26-week temporary absence period, under portability provisions, for people whose absence is solely linked to the travel bubble closure.
Any decisions already made for superannuitants in Australia will be reviewed, and if payments have already been stopped then MSD will work with clients to determine ongoing financial assistance.
MSD will begin contacting superannuitants in Australia from Monday.
Under section 22 of the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001 (NZSRIA), a superannuitant is entitled to payment of their normal rate of superannuation in respect of the first 26 weeks of absence from New Zealand, as long as either:
– they return to NZ within 30 weeks; or
– their absence exceeds 30 weeks and the Ministry is satisfied the absence beyond 30 weeks is due to circumstances beyond their control that they could not reasonably have foreseen before departure.
MSD’s previous view was that there were no legislative provisions under which New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran Pension clients who are unable to return from Australia solely because of the travel bubble closing could be paid any financial assistance, given New Zealanders were warned this could happen.
However, there are legislative provisions that allow MSD, on a case-by-case basis, to take unforeseeable reasons why a person cannot return to New Zealand into account. For example, a serious medical event.