The Government is giving as one-off 5 per cent boost to the War Disablement and Surviving Spouse pensions as part of a $60m package for veterans spread over five years.
Prime Minister John Key told the Returned and Services Association National Council the changes came in response to the Law Commission's report into the War Pensions Act. The Government had accepted in part or in full 132 of the 170 recommendations in that report.
The 5 per cent increase would cost $5.8m and would cut in on April 1, 2013. It would come on top of the forecast inflation increase of 1.8 per cent.
Veterans Affairs Minister Nathan Guy said other changes would include:
* Increased eligibility for support services such as home help and lawn mowing, benefiting 3000 veterans and 1100 surviving spouses or partners, and increasing coverage from six months to 12 months after a veteran's death.
* A new veterans' weekly income compensation for veterans under retirement age and unable to work, paid at 80 per cent of the average wage. Lump sum payments would also be available.
* The establishment of a veterans advisory board and specialist medical advisory board to provide independent advice to the minister.
* Two coverage schemes, with the first cut off at the introduction of universal accident compensation in 1974 but with current veterans grandparented into it. Scheme Two would start in 2015 and cover future veterans or those who have not yet claimed.
Key said operating two schemes would ''allow us to provide for modern rehabilitation practices for future veterans without impacting on current veterans''.
War disablement pensions would continue for four weeks after a veterans death rather than the current two weeks, bringing them into line with New Zealand Superannuation.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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