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Financial Matters

Disability advice: the niche that’s gone mainstream

This is an article written by Graham Hand who writes for the investment newsleter of Cuffelinks (www.cuffelinks.com.au).  The article discusses topics relating to people with disability including;

  • superannuation
  • excepted persons for tax purposes
  • special disability trusts
  • disability support pension
  • financial considerations of planning for disability support.

To read the article please click here

Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Scheme

The Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Scheme helps people experiencing a short term financial crisis or emergency to pay their electricity or gas bill.

The scheme helps people stay connected to essential energy services during a financial crisis. This scheme is not available on an ongoing basis.

EAPA is only one type of assistance available and should not be considered as the only option for those unable to pay their electricity or gas bill.

For information on other long term energy assistance measures visit cut your powerbills or call Service NSW 13 77 88.

To download a list of CWO’s that deliver EAPA click here. (Provided by the NSW Department of Industry)

How does the EAPA Scheme work?

The EAPA Scheme operates through a voucher system. Each voucher is worth $50.

EAPA vouchers are issued by a participating community welfare organisation (CWO) such as St Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, Anglicare and many others.

The customer needs to apply to one of these organisations which will consider their claim and, if appropriate, provide assistance.

The CWO assesses the customer’s situation and determines each case based on individual circumstances.

Customers can take their vouchers with their bill to an Australia Post outlet (if their energy supplier accepts vouchers via Australia Post) or post to their energy supplier as soon as possible and within 14 days of receipt.  

The supplier will credit the value of the voucher towards the customer’s account.

Note: Before contacting a CWO to make an appointment for an EAPA assessment, please contact your electricity or gas supplier to find out what payment plans and other assistance might be available. You may be able to agree on a payment plan with your supplier to suit your financial situation.

EnergyAustralia Energy Assistance Program

EnergyAustralia offers customers a number of Energy Assistance Options when a customer is having trouble with Energy bills.

If you are struggling financially, EnergyAustralia encourages you to contact them as soon as possible, either personally or through a third party, such as a financial counsellor or a welfare agency. 

If you need some support, they can help with:

  • options if you’re having difficulty paying your energy bills
  • information on government assistance

For more information from EnergyAustralia,  Please click here, Customers experiencing hardship can contact EnergyAustralia’s EnergyAssist team on 133 466 Monday to Friday, between 8am to 6.30pm AEST.

Customers from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds  – If you have difficulty understanding English, an interpreter service is available, at no cost to you on 131 450.

Financial Rights Legal Centre

The Financial Rights Legal Centre is a community legal centre specialising in financial services, particularly in the areas of consumer credit, banking, debt recovery and insurance. 

The Financial Rights Legal Centre provides a well-integrated combination of information, advice, casework, and education to assist consumers in financial stress.  The Financial Rights Legal Centre also conducts research and collects data from contact with consumers to campaign for changes to law and industry practice for the benefit of consumers. 

Their website also has a ‘self-help’ centre which provides useful fact sheets, sample letters and guides to help you understand and enforce your rights.  These resources can be found at:  http://financialrights.org.au/self-help-centre/get-started/

To find out more about the Financial Rights Legal Centre visit their website at:  http://financialrights.org.au/

or you can call: 02 8204 1384

1800 607 007 (financial issues)

1800 663 464 (insurance issues)

Life Support Rebate

The Life Support Rebate assists people to pay their electricity bills if they are required, or have someone living with them who is required, to use approved energy-intensive equipment at home.

The value of the rebate varies depends on the type of machine used by the customer. The list of approved Life Support Equipment includes medical equipment that is essential for supporting life such as home dialysis, ventilators and oxygen concentrators.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the Life Support Rebate a person must:

  • be resident in New South Wales; and
  • be a customer of the retailer, or a long term resident of an on-supplied residential community, or a resident of an on-supplied retirement village, or a resident of an on-supplied strata scheme; and whose name appears on the electricity account for supply to his or her principal place of residence where approved equipment is used by the customer or another person who lives at the same address; and
  • submit a valid application form as provided by the Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development (the Department), which will be made available to customers on the Department’s website, duly signed by a registered medical practitioner (who is not the applicant) to verify that the use of the approved life support equipment is required at his or her principal place of residence.

For more information and to download an application form, please go to their website at www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/energy-consumers/financial-assistance/rebates/life-support-rebates

Low Income Household Rebate

The Low Income Household Rebate helps eligible NSW households to pay their energy bills. The Low Income Household Rebate provides:

  • $235 (excluding GST) a year to eligible customers who hold an electricity account, or;
  • $258.50 a year to eligible long-term residents of residential communities (caravan and mobile home parks) and retirement villages who receive electricity bills from their community operators. 

Eligibility

To be eligible for the Low Income Household Rebate, you need to:

    • be a resident in New South Wales; and
    • be a customer of the retailer, or a long term resident of an on-supplied residential community, or a resident of an on-supplied retirement village, or a resident of an on-supplied strata scheme; and whose name appears on the electricity account for supply to his or her principal place of residence; and
    • hold either a:
      • Pensioner Concession Card issued by the DHS/DVA; or
      • DHS Health Care Card; or
      • DVA Gold Card marked with either:
        • War Widow or War Widower Pension; or
        • Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI); or
        • Disability Pension (EDA).

Note: Commonwealth Senior Heath Card holders are not eligible for this rebate.

Medical Energy Rebate

The Medical Energy Rebate is for customers who have an inability to self-regulate body temperature when exposed to extremes (hot or cold) of environmental temperatures. It is associated with certain medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. However, to be eligible for the Rebate a customer will require a separate diagnosis that they are unable to self-regulate their body temperature.

The Medical Energy Rebate provides:

  • $235 (excluding GST) a year to eligible customers who hold an electricity account with an electricity retailer of their choice; or,
  • $258.50 a year to eligible residents of on-supplied residential communities, retirement villages and strata schemes.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the Medical Energy Rebate you need to:

  • be resident in New South Wales; and
  • be a customer of the retailer, or a long term resident of an on-supplied residential community, or a resident of an on-supplied retirement village, or a resident of an on-supplied strata scheme; and whose name appears on the electricity account for supply to his or her principal place of residence; and
  • submit a valid application form as provided by the Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development (the Department), which will be made available to customers on the Department’s website, duly signed by a registered medical practitioner (who is not the applicant) to verify that either the customer named on the bill or anyone residing at the residence has an inability to self-regulate body temperature*; and
  • hold either a:
    • Pensioner Concession Card issued by the DHS/DVA; or
    • DHS Health Care Card; or
    • DVA Gold Card.

Note: Commonwealth Senior Health Card holders are not eligible for this rebate.

*   For the purpose of this rebate, an eligible customer has an inability to self-regulate body temperature where the eligible customer (or someone living at the supply address of the eligible customer) has been assessed by a registered treating medical practitioner (who is not the applicant) who has been treating them for at least three months as meeting at least one Primary Qualifying Conditions AND at least one Secondary Qualifying Conditions:

www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/energy-consumers/financial-assistance/rebates/medical-energy-rebate

www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/energy-consumers/financial-assistance/rebates/medical-energy-rebate

 

NCOSS Cost of Living Report 2014

This report, the first in an ongoing biannual series – focuses on those most in need. It draws on data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to assess how living costs have changed over the last ten years, and how these changes impact people experiencing poverty and disadvantage. In particular, it looks at cost of living changes across six key categories of ‘essential’ expenditure:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Transport
  • Health
  • Utilities
  • Education

To download the report NCOSS Cost of Living Report 2014.

If you require a word format of the document please call 02 9552 1606 or email admin@pdcnsw.org.au

NSW Goverment Gas Rebate

Eligibility

To be eligible for the NSW Gas Rebate, you need to:

  • be resident in New South Wales; and
  • be a customer of the retailer, or a long term resident of an on-supplied residential community, or a resident of an on-supplied retirement village, or a resident of an on-supplied strata scheme; and whose name appears on the gas account for supply of natural gas to his or her principal place of residence; and
  • hold either a:
    • Pensioner Concession Card issued by the DHS/DVA; or
    • DHS Health Care Card; or
    • DVA Gold Card marked with either:
      • War Widow or War Widower Pension; or
      • Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI); or
      • Disability Pension (EDA).

Note: Commonwealth Senior Heath Card holders are not eligible for this rebate.

For more information please go to the NSW Government,Department of Industry, Resources and Energy website at www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/energy-consumers/financial-assistance/rebates/nsw-gas-rebate

Save Energy, Save Money

The NSW Government, Office of Environment and Heritage have created a website providing useful tips and resources  to help you save money.

By taking simple energy saving actions and using power as efficiently as possible, you can save money, reduce electricity supply demands and help protect the environment.

The website identifies plenty of ways to help make your home energy-efficient, from simple draught-proofing and tips to help you choose the best equipment, right through to cost-effective lighting solutions and home renovation.

For more information visit the website at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/households/energy-home.htm

NSW Companion Card

What is the Companion Card?

Companion Card is a not-for-profit program, funded by the NSW Government and managed by National Disability Services. 

The card itself is the size of a credit card, with the name and a photo of the holder — who is the person with disability. When the holder buys a ticket for themselves at selected venues and facilities around NSW, their companion will get free entry.

What is a Companion?

A companion can be a partner, family member, friend, volunteer or paid carer.

For more information visit the NSW Companion Card website at www.nswcompanioncard.org.au

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