Here Is Your Update - December 2014 - Issue 27

Veterans’ Support Act 2014 - Changes to Veteran’s Pension


The Veterans' Support Act 2014 was passed on 7 August 2014. While Veterans' Affairs New Zealand (Veterans' Affairs) is the lead agency for veterans, MSD administers the Veteran's Pension on behalf of Veterans' Affairs.

There are a few changes that will affect MSD clients when the Act comes into effect on 7 December 2014.

More people will become entitled to a Veteran's Pension and a new compensation payment will be available for veterans under the age of 65.

Information will be updated on Senior’s website as it becomes available.

Information is also on the Work and Income website where the majority of information on the Veteran’s Pension is located. Relevant Work and Income web pages are currently under review and will be updated by 7 December 2014.

Veterans' Affairs website

The Veterans' Affairs website has been refreshed and will be updated regularly as information becomes available. This includes detailed fact sheets for specific client groups and frequently asked questions.

Conflicts of interest

No member of the Benefits Review Committee can hear a case if he or she:

  • Has a direct financial or personal interest in the outcome;
  • Has had any prior involvement in the case;
  • Has some personal connection with the applicant, presenter or witness(es) – apart from working relationships;
  • Has a personal prejudice for or against a person(s) involved in the case;
  • Has pre-decided the case and come to it with a closed mind.

If any of these criteria apply the BRC member (including community representatives) must disqualify him or herself from the hearing.

It is important that panel members consider any small contact with the applicant when considering disqualification. This may cause difficulties in service centres in isolated areas; however it is important that the integrity of the BRC process is maintained.

The applicant can object to any member being part of the Benefits Review Committee, by stating the reasons for his or her objection. If grounds are found for disqualification, or there is an issue with a particular panel member that will interfere with the process of natural justice, the panel member objected to is usually replaced. The Applicant would usually discuss this with the Benefits Review Co-ordinator.


Section 10A of the Social Security Act 1964 does not specify that there will be a chairperson of the Benefits Review Committee. However it is a good practice for the committee to identify someone to take the lead in organising the committee, explaining the hearing process to all attendees and ensuring the final decision report is completed within the appropriate timeframes.

The chairperson should be chosen only when the three panel members come together. A community representative can also be the chairperson. The chair does not necessarily have to write up the report in HIYA, as one of the Ministry panellists can complete this task.

The role of chair is extremely important as they can play a pivotal role in ensuring that a fair and impartial decision is reached. The chairperson “sets the scene” for the hearing. A checklist (attached) has been developed to assist the chairperson with this role, providing a guide for introductions and for the process throughout the hearing.

QA before signing off Report of the BRC

When the report is sent to the other panel members for signoff the panel members are responsible for checking the report. If a panel member believes an area has not been sufficiently covered in the report or that it is not a fair representation of the events of the hearing and the decision made, they do not sign it off until the appropriate amendments have been made.

If one panel member disagrees with the decision it is important that this and the reasons for the dissention are recorded. The final report is sent to the applicant and a copy to the Ministry with a covering letter.

If the report to the BRC contains errors then the BRC needs to ensure that these are corrected, these errors will automatically transfer into the report of the BRC if you copy and paste from the report to the BRC.

The exception being the case for the Ministry, this is Ministry's case and should the panel notice grammatical errors then they need to ensure those are corrected but should the wrong law and policy be applied to the facts of the case the BRC should make comments about this in their findings. All three panel members are responsible for the content of the report, if this contains errors then this reflects on the Panel.

The material for post hearing procedures is attached.

Reminder to reconsider the full situation when decisions are reviewed

When the BRC reconsiders a decision, the full situation needs to be reexamined.

For example, a client seeking to review the decision not to include gym membership in their Disability Allowance costs. We need to review all of the allowable costs that make up the rate that Disability Allowance is being paid at. So the decision under review is the rate of Disability Allowance not the decision to exclude gym membership from the allowable costs.

This way of looking at reviews of decision was clarified by the Supreme Court when they were considering the Arbuthnot case.

The Arbuthnot decision clarified how the BRC is to consider a review of decision. An explanation of the implications of the Supreme Court Decision on the Benefits Review Committee process is attached and can also be found on the link below:

Information for trespassed clients

The Work and Income website has detailed information for trespassed clients.

Happy Holidays

The RCR Team would like to thank you for your hard work this year and wish you all a safe and happy holiday with your families.

We look forward to working with you in 2015.



December 2014 - Issue 27

Dec 2014

Print this page.