Law finally passed: Spousal Provision gone by Nov 9th
I have just got the alert that the “New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension Legislation Amendment Bill” has received the Royal Assent today. This means that the Spousal Provision will be gone by 9 November 2020 and that pensioners whose partner receives an overseas pension higher than the rate of NZ Super will not be punished any longer for being in a relationship with the “wrong” person.
Their NZ Super will not be reduced any longer by the “excess” of their partner’s overseas pension, and they might be able to receive the Winter Energy Payment (WEP) from next year if they have missed out this year due to the deductions.
Other changes I have received correspondence about are the following (from 9 November 2020):
Non-qualified partners (age or residence) cannot be included in NZ Super applications any longer.
It becomes now written law that the voluntary part of overseas pensions cannot be deducted from NZ Super. Until now the CEO of MSD had the discretion to defer these deductions but it was not standard and often only done on request by the pensioners.
[Update: Just to clarify, "normal" employer/employee pensions like US Social Security, the Canadian CPP, the German DRV Rente etc are NOT voluntary but compulsory contributions. Only contributions you have made ON TOP OF these compulsory contributions are voluntary.]
Singles who live alone in a self-contained mobile home will receive the living alone rate.
I urge everyone who is suffering losses and hardship due to the delay of the amendment bill from 1 July to 9 November to write to MSD and try to get a repayment for these more than four months. There is no such retrospective element in the bill but at least you should try.
While the Spousal Provision should never have been introduced in 1985, it should at least have been abolished in 2008 when the Labour Cabinet decided it should go, but didn’t “find” the money for the then 253 individuals affected by the policy, as Labour needed the money for election bribes.
NZ Pension Protest has contributed to this law change
With www.nzpensionprotest.com I have fought for ten years for this law change and think my efforts and lobbying has contributed to the law change now.
I have assisted the Office of Human Rights Proceedings (OHRP) in finding pensioners who would be represented by the OHRP at the Spousal Provision hearing at the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT) in March 2018, and assisted pensioners in writing up their claims and stories.
While we are still waiting for the Tribunal’s decision on this discriminatory piece of legislation, it seems clear that the New Zealand government has wiped out this breach of Human Rights now in anticipation of being told to amend the legislation.
The constant lobbying of Susan St John from the University of Auckland Retirement Policy and Research Centre (RPRC) on this issue was of similar importance. Other individuals and organisations have also told the Government in no uncertain terms that this policy was unacceptable. It is beyond belief that it has taken so long to get rid of the spousal rip-off. But I am proud to say that we were at the forefront of this fight against this unbelievable injustice.
The fight has to go on: The Direct Deduction Policy needs to go
But as you know, this policy affects only between 400 and 600 people, and it can only be the first step to get fair treatment for the more than 100,000 pensioners whose overseas pensions are deducted dollar for dollar from NZ Super by means of the Direct Deduction Policy (Sections 187-191 of the Social Security Act 2018, formerly Section 70), leaving many without a cent of NZ Super for working and paying taxes in New Zealand for decades.
Their Human Rights are breached, too, their right to property, the right to free movement, the right to being free from discrimination etc. The much-touted “simplification and modernisation” of the Social Security Act cannot stop with the end of acknowledging that women are not their husbands’ dependents or possession. It cannot hang on to a policy which might have been fair in 1938 but it has no place in the era of globalisation and mobility.
Submissions to the "Fair Residency Amendment Bill"
Don’t miss to tell the Select Committee (Finance and Expenditure) what you think of the “New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Fair Residency) Amendment Bill” and make a submission:
I had written about this in my last newsletter. You find it here in the Newsletter archive, the date is 13.07.2020, and also some ideas for those who do not know what to write in such a submission.
Some of you have written to me that my list didn’t address all points and that they didn’t like one point or the other. Of course, I didn’t supply a full list, I only delivered a few ideas, scenarios and suggestions. I don’t expect anyone to adopt 100% of my ideas. I’ll write my submission and my opinion, you write your submission in your own words, your opinion and your suggestions. The list is for those who struggle to write a submission but want to be heard.
[Update: And please make sure you get the facts straight! How should the Select Committee take your submission seriously if you make false claims, like requesting the NZ government should negotiate social security agreements with the UK and Canada, when such agreements with these countries already exist.]
You have time to submit your submission until after the General Election, just don’t forget it if you want to contribute to the discussion.
I have also received an email from a to-be pensioner who announced that he and his wife will move back to the UK because they can’t bear the unfairness of the Direct Deduction Policy any longer. This is the other way of dealing with the injustice, and I bet they will sleep better than many of you who have to deal with the daily discrimination.
Take care and keep warm!
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