Change is on its way for Australian women who receive either the Widow B Pension or the Wife Pension as both will cease to exist as of March of next year. Depending on eligibility, recipients will transfer to other payments on 20 March 2020 which will include the Age Pension, JobSeeker Payment and Carer Payment.
Allocation of the new payment that will replace the Widow B Pension or the Wife Pension will depend on various factors, such as current residency, age and any additional allowances the recipient currently receives. However, in most cases, the paid amount that the recipients received on their now-discontinued pensions will remain the same despite the change in title.
This pension was originally created for widows who didn’t receive the Parenting Payment, had limited money and lost financial support from their deceased partner. As of 20 March 2020, recipients on this pension will transfer to the Age Pension. However, the rate they receive will not be changed.
The Wife Pension was initially meant for female partners of age pensioners who did not individually qualify for the Age Pension themselves. To be eligible for the pension, women had to be a member of a couple in which their partner was receiving the Age Pension.
Due to the recognition of women’s growing participation in the work force, this pension stopped admitting new grants in 1995. However, women who were receiving the rate beforehand were still eligible to claim their full amount until otherwise disqualified due to the death of their partner, separation of the couple or even a re-coupling by the recipient [the wife].
From March 2020 though, the new changes mean each recipient will switch to a new pension or allowance depending on their age and residency.
Those who live overseas and are 66 or older will be transferred to the Age Pension at the due date. However, those who are 65 or younger and live overseas will no longer receive any payment in relation to their discontinued Wife Pension.
However, if someone is living overseas and has their payment stopped, they still have the opportunity to apply for other payments depending on their eligibility in regards to the international social security agreements. These agreements vary from country to country and generally base their judgements on strict guidelines, including minimum periods of residency in both the host country and Australia.
Those who live in Australia have a number of options to choose from though, all of which include a replacement payment of some sort. This again is dependent on age as well as accompanying payments.
Women who receive the Wife Pension alongside the Carer Allowance will transfer to the Carer Payment in March next year. This means that the Wife Pension will no longer be available however, the Carer Payment will now be paid out alongside the Carer Allowance.
Australian-based women who are 66 or older will be transferred to the Age Pension, while those 65 or younger will receive JobSeeker Payment. Neither of these payment rates will change as a result of this transition.
According to the Welfare Reform Act 2018, 2,900 Wife Pension recipients will transfer to JobSeeker Payments and 2,250 will be moved to Age Pension. It also states that only 320 Widow B Pensioners will move onto the Age Pension.
These two pensions aren’t the only areas to be affected in the coming years however, with the Widow Allowance having already been closed to new entrants since the beginning of July 2018 and ceasing to exist from January 1, 2022.
Along with this, the Partner Allowance, the payment for non-working partners of people on income support, will also cease on 1 January 2022. Recipients of both these pensions will then be transferred to the Age Pension.
If any of this affects you, keep an eye out for your letter from Centrelink outlining the changes in more detail or contact the Department of Human Services.
Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.