Pensioners whine about missing out on Winter Energy Payment

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Jan and Marcus McKeogh don’t receive the Winter Energy Payments due to their New Zealand pensions being deducted down to zero.  Quote:

A 71-year-old teacher whose pension is deducted under a controversial piece of legislation says she dreads the day she can no longer work.

Jan and Marcus McKeogh are both denied the newly introduced Winter Energy Payment because they don’t technically receive the New Zealand pension.

“There was always a glimmer of hope that fairness would prevail and that we would receive it,” Jan said.

“That feeling of being on the outer is a very intangible emotion.”

While the Christchurch couple are eligible for the New Zealand pension, they also receive pensions from Germany. This means their NZ Super is reduced to nothing under section 70 of the Social Security Act.

The act contains a policy giving the Government the right to reduce someone’s pension dollar for dollar if they also receive a pension or fund from overseas, and in some situations if their partner receives a foreign pension.[…]  End of quote.

So that means they are earning at least as much from their German pension as they would if they had a New Zealand pension.

All they are “missing out” on is the winter energy payment, which is worth $31.82 per week for a couple.

If they wanted to, they could choose the Special Payment option.  This means Work and Income collect the overseas benefit on their behalf, and pays them the full amount of the New Zealand pension, regardless of how much the overseas benefit is.  Then they would qualify for the Winer Energy payment.

Of course, you wouldn’t do that if your overseas pension is actually more than the New Zealand pension.  So … this couple are whining about “missing out” when they are not missing out on anything.  Quote:

[…] “Being a New Zealander, I feel deeply ashamed that this unfairness is allowed to prevail. It is perceived by the powers that be, and MSD [Ministry of Social Development] drives this very, very strongly, that they’re trying to be fair and treat everybody fairly.”  End of quote.

Life is actually pretty rosy when the only unfairness you have to be “deeply ashamed” about is missing out on $31.82  week for a few weeks over winter when you are already earning more than most other New Zealand pensioners.

Then Jim wades in with his sorry tale of hardship and deprivation.  Quote:

Jim Wolfson, 75, said section 70 is the “most untouchable thing in parliament”.

The loss of the winter payments was “just one more way to rub our faces in it and pour salt in our wounds”.

Wolfson contributed nearly 9 per cent of his salary to his US social security while working in America, and his employer contributed as well.

He is able to get by on the payments, but because his New Zealand pension has been deducted to zero, most of life’s little luxuries have gone with it.

The former US man moved to New Zealand thinking he would be able to go home for visits regularly, but because of the deductions he has not been back to see his family, and has two grandchildren he hasn’t met yet.

He cannot afford to go on dates or go to restaurants anymore – even McDonald’s is out of his price range, he said.  End of quote.

Oh, cry me a river, Jim.  The pension is intended to be a living allowance.  It is meant to cover the basics of life. Housing, food, heating and transport.  It was never intended to pay for trips abroad or luxury items. If you wanted those things, you should have planned ahead and put a little extra aside while you were still earning.  Then you might be able to afford a Big Mac at McDonald’s on date night.


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