Age Pension and the Mobility Allowance

THERE is a Senate inquiry is considering a Bill providing for the Mobility Allowance to end at 30 June 2017 to new entrants. At that point, the Mobility Allowance will have transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and a new mobility assistance arrangement will be available under the NDIS.

People on the Disability Support Pension who turn 65 can change over to the Age Pension. If prior to their 65th birthday they were receiving assistance under the NDIS and were receiving the Mobility Allowance, they will continue to do so until 30 June 2020, when the Mobility Allowance will cease altogether. They would then be covered under the NDIS for their mobility needs through individualised supports.

The problem with the Bill is that it blocks access to the Mobility Allowance for people over 65 not currently on a social security payment who then go onto a payment. People over 65 are not eligible for assistance under the NDIS, unless they were receiving assistance under the NDIS before they turned 65. If at some point a person over 65 needs assistance currently provided by the Mobility Allowance, that person would be covered under “continuity of support arrangements”. These are not part of the NDIS.

CPSA is concerned about the “continuity of support arrangements” generally, because currently nothing beyond that term is known about them.

What CPSA does know is that a person who incurs a non-age related disability after their 65th birthday, will not be eligible for assistance under the NDIS, but will receive assistance under “continuity of support arrangements”.

It is a major concern that those "arrangements" are yet to be defined, and CPSA has written to the Minister for Health and the Minister for Social Services to urgently clarify them.

The current eligibility criteria for the Mobility Allowance are geared towards employment and volunteering. Obviously, the number of people who continue to work beyond the age of 65 (gradually moving up to 67) is relatively small, and that number would be even smaller for people over 65 with a disability. Volunteering numbers may be higher.

CPSA has made a submission to the Senate inquiry specifically on the Mobility Allowance for people over 65.