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Delays to pension fix

People who have their New Zealand Superannuation payments reduced by their partner’s foreign pension now face a longer wait to get the pension.

Monday, July 20th 2020, 6:38AM

Susan St John

The Government announced last year that it would put a stop to the spousal provision rule that requires some New Zealanders’ pensions to be offset by the superannuation their partners receive from overseas.

It said that from July 1 the direct deduction of a government-administered overseas pension received by a superannuitant’s partner from that superannuitant’s New Zealand Super or veteran’s pension would be removed.

But that has been delayed by Covid-19.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said the changes would be pushed out to November 9 because of the ministry's Covid-19 workload. It has administered the wage subsidy, as well as the Covid-19 income relief payment.

It is estimated that just under 600 pensioners are affected.

Susan St John, of the University of Auckland's Retirement Policy and Research Centre, said the delay was a betrayal.

“A woman could have lived and worked all her life in New Zealand and entered into a relationship later on only to find she gets less [super], or even none at all, and so loses her precious financial independence.

“Increasingly, men who marry women from other countries who have long working histories are affected as well. Fobbed off with promises for years that change was imminent, usually after yet another report, a great deal of bitterness and cynicism festered. We are talking about a policy that at most affects 500 people with minuscule fiscal implications. There was an appropriation in the 2019 Budget of $2 million to fix this anomaly, so why not just do it? It is beyond time for the ‘Government of kindness’ to put the wellbeing of people first, and not delay the removal of this anachronistic and heartless, foolish, petty policy. Generous compensation must also be a priority.”

Tags: NZ Super superannuation

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