Externals Issue 2 (September 2010)
Newsletter for health and disability professionals and organisations
Welcome to Externals
Welcome to Externals, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) newsletter targeting people and organisations working with our clients.
The last three years there has seen significant change in MSD’s focus with increased emphasis on client, provider and stakeholder engagement. MSD greatly values these evolving relationships and wishes to maintain and develop them at every opportunity. Our change in focus and the economic challenges facing us all has not come at the expense of our clients. We will continue to maintain accuracy and urgency in providing them with their full and correct entitlements. MSD welcomes your feedback on any matter raised in Externals.
An important development has been the release of the
Introduction by the Principal Health and Disability Advisors
“Externals” has been created to keep you updated on news and events from across the Ministry of Social Development that relate to the Health and Disability sector.
Our aim with “Externals” is to cover the wide and diverse interests of the Health and Disability sector. We hope that this and future issues will offer something to all our readers. “Externals” is designed so your topic of special interest is easily found. If there are topics you’d like covered in our next issue, or you’d like to give us feedback, we’d like to hear from you.
Please contact us, the Principal Advisors:
The Government’s welfare reform package, Future Focus, comes into effect today (27 September ,2010). Future Focus is about getting people back into work as quickly as possible so we can break the cycle of welfare dependency that many New Zealand families face.
We want to give people the opportunity to work if they have some capacity to do so because paid work is the best way to increase financial independence and reduce poverty. It’s also been shown to increase self esteem, aid recovery from illness and is good for people’s general well-being.
We recognise that for some people work is not an option and we’re not going to force people off benefit if they’re unable to work. However, if people have some capacity to work, they may now be expected to look for a suitable part-time job.
Here’s a run down of the main changes and how they might affect your stakeholders:
- There are no changes for people with severe incapacity currently receiving Invalid’s Benefit. They will continue to receive IB.
- We’ve revised the medical certificate to help us gather information about a person’s capacity for work (see below)
Sickness Benefit – from May 2011
- From May 2011, people on Sickness Benefit who have been assessed by a registered medical practitioner, dentist or midwife as having capacity to work at least 15 hours a week will be expected to look for suitable part time work. They won’t have to do this on their own – we’ll support them in their search for work.
- This does not mean people on SB will be forced off their benefit and into work. But if a person can do some part time work, they will be expected to look for a suitable job.
- We will require an additional medical reassessment eight weeks after the start of a person receiving SB. This will allow us to gather more relevant information about the person's progress and their ability to re-enter the workforce.
- Everyone receiving SB for more than 12 months will have a compulsory review by their case manager and second opinions may be sought where appropriate.
- We’ve revised the medical certificate to help us gather information about a person’s capacity for work (see below)
Medical Certificate – from 27 September 2010
- We’ve tweaked the medical certificate to reflect this change in emphasis.
- The revised medical certificate will help us collect improved information about the impact of a person’s condition(s) on their capacity for work, and is easier for practitioners to complete.
- The certificate focuses on what a person can do and the types of work they can undertake.
DPB – from 27 September 2010
- All sole parents with a youngest dependent child six years and older are expected to look for part time work.
- We’ll help people find suitable jobs that fit their role as a parent and may be able to help with after school care if needed.
- Sole parents with a youngest dependent child younger than six should be planning to develop the skills and experience that will assist them to move into work when they are ready or become subject to work test obligations.
UB – from 27 September 2010
- UB provides temporary assistance for people out of work while they’re looking for a job.
- Under the changes, everyone on UB will need to reapply every 52 weeks
- A case manager will work with people on a comprehensive work assessment to determine what they can do and how we can help them find suitable work.
Hardship – from 27 September 2010
- We’ll talk to people applying for hardship more about how to manage their money.
Future Focus changes for seniors
Future Focus is a package of welfare reforms designed to get working-age people back into work as quickly as possible. It comes into effect today (27 September 2010 ) and includes changes to abatements, hardship assistance and childcare assistance that may affect some seniors.
Abatement thresholds will be increased for people on New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pensions with non-qualifying spouses who claim the married rate. This will ensure that seniors are better off from any part-time work they do.
There’s also a new approach to hardship payments – the one off payments for essential and immediate costs including power, food and clothing. The new approach is about making sure that people, including seniors, who apply for these payments get the support they require.
Childcare Assistance provides financial support for childcare and out of school care. Childcare Assistance has become less targeted over the last five years but under Future Focus the thresholds will return to 2008 levels. Again, some seniors may be affected by these changes.
For more detailed information about
Work Capacity Medical Certificate – Key changes
The Work Capacity Medical Certificate provides Work and Income with information to help determine a person's eligibility for a benefit and assist with determining the person’s capacity for work or ability to undertake work-related activities.
As well as being used to verify the person's condition and their ability to work or plan for work, the certificate is also used to estimate the time the person is likely to be unable to work.
The certificate is not benefit specific which means that all information provided will be considered in the decision making and planning processes.
The following changes have been made to the medical certificate to improve the information Work and Income receives about the impact of a person’s condition(s) on their capacity for work, and to make the form easier for practitioners to complete:
- The focus and language used have shifted from ‘condition/diagnosis’ to ‘capacity/incapacity’. This shifts the focus to what a person can do, not what they can’t.
- The questions have been reworded to be clearer and more concise. This makes the form more transparent and easier to complete.
- The order of questions has been changed to improve the flow of information. The practitioners consulted with indicated that this flow was more connected to how they thought through the process when meeting with a patient.
- The sections for indicating a ‘provisional diagnosis’ and capacity for ‘light/selected duties’ have been removed.
- The table in question 18 (question 13 in the old certificate) has been updated to capture information on capacity for training and part-time work in more detail. This information will be used to determine entitlement and obligations, and inform engagement and planning for work.
- The longest duration in the table is now ‘unlikely in less than one year’. This is less ambiguous than the previous wording of ‘unlikely in the foreseeable future’.
- Practitioners are now specifically asked to indicate the impact of the person’s condition(s) on the type of work they can undertake.
- Guidance notes have been provided on the side of the medical certificate to assist practitioners when completing the form.
Employers’ Disability Network
The Employer” Disability Network was launched on the 23rd September 2010 at Parliament. The Employer Disability Network is a unique, not-for-profit network of mainly larger employers, sharing best practice experience of working with disabled people in all areas of business. The Trust aims to build the potential and capacity of businesses to employ disabled people, and to provide services to disabled customers by offering a range of easily accessible tools and resources.
More information can be found at:
Medical alarms rental and monitoring update
Work and Income pay Disability Allowance to people who have costs associated with a disability. It helps with things like regular visits to the doctor or hospital, or pharmaceuticals
Clients can also apply for assistance to pay for medical alarm rental and monitoring through the Disability Allowance.
We have reviewed the application process for this assistance to make it clearer.
We have introduced a new client factsheet – this has information on:
- when we can include medical alarm costs in the Disability Allowance
- choosing a medical alarm supplier
- what people need to do to apply for a medical alarm.
There is a new medical certificate that must be completed by the doctor.
When someone is applying for help with medical alarm costs in the Disability Allowance, we will give them the client factsheet, the medical certificate their doctor will need to complete, and a list of approved suppliers.
A case manager will discuss with them how the medical alarm costs may impact on their overall entitlement to Disability Allowance and will confirm with them that they understand and agree to the services offered by the approved medical alarm supplier.
All applications must be accompanied by the completed medical certificate and a copy of the contract or receipt for the rental and monitoring costs of a medical alarm.
Code of Professional Conduct for MSD Approved Suppliers of Monitored Medical Alarms
Approved suppliers of the Ministry must abide by the Code of Professional Conduct for MSD Approved Suppliers of Monitored Medical Alarms. The Code outlines the expected conduct and behaviour of the approved supplier when dealing with our clients.
The supplier should give the client a copy of the Code of Professional Conduct at the initial appointment. A copy of the Code is also available from the Work and Income website or from the local Work and Income service centre.
The changes and processes outlined above took effect from 1 April 2010.
You can contact us on either 0800 559 009 or 0800 552 002 or visit your local Work and Income service centre for more information.
Apply online for NZ Superannuation
If you are turning 65 you can now take the first steps in applying for New Zealand Superannuation from the comfort of your own home, by applying online.
Carol Lankshear was one of the first people to use the new online application form, a week before she turned 65 in May.
“It was much easier than I expected and really cool that I could do it from home,” says Carol.
Carol works for Senior Services at the Ministry of Social Development.
“I’m like a lot of people my age in that I’m still working full-time, so being able to do the form online is really convenient. I’d previously thought I’d need to take a day off work to get my super sorted out.”
Completing the application form online provides people with personalised information about what they may be able to get, what to do next and what supporting documents they need to provide.
You can find the application form, and other seniors-related information, online at
Collecting email addresses
Today's seniors are increasingly computer literate and tell us they want easy access to information about the services and assistance available for older people.
Email is a simple and convenient way for seniors to contact us and for us to get relevant information to many of our clients, such as SuperGold Card updates.
We are focusing on collecting email addresses to make sure our future email communications reach as many of our seniors as possible.
If you would like to receive seniors-related information then email the following information to us at: email@example.com
Client number (found on the back of your SuperGold card)
A change to our support centre opening hours
The Senior Services Support Centre has changed its opening hours from 12 July. It is now open for calls from 8am - 5pm Monday to Friday.
The Support Centre is no longer open on Saturday. The change in opening hours means that we now have more staff available when demand is highest.
For enquiries about NZ Superannuation and other assistance for those 65 plus freephone 0800 552 002 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask a Question on the Senior Services website
If you have a question and need an answer then use our Ask a Question tool on the Senior Services website: www.seniors.msd.govt.nz
The quickest way to get an answer to your question is to search our Find Answers page.
Select the Subject your question relates to and enter key words in the Search by Keyword field.
Then select the Search button. The answers that best match your key words will be listed in the Summary window.
If you have searched Find Answers and can't find a suitable answer you can email us your question on the Ask a Question tab.
From 1 October 2010, personal income tax rates will reduce and GST will increase from 12.5% to 15%.
A Temporary GST Assistance payment is being introduced and will be paid in addition to NZ Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension at 2.02% of the full net rate of New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's Pension (note that these payments will also increase as a result of the personal tax cuts). For more detailed Budget 2010 information visit:
Information on Carers Guide
Hon. Tariana Turia launched A Guide for Carers on 24 September 2009. This is a booklet for new carers of people who are older or have ill health, a disability or a mental health, alcohol or other drug issue. The Guide helps carers to find support from Government. It has practical information about issues like financial help, having a break, help at home, transport and how to balance caring with work.
To read a digital version go to www.carers.net.nz or ring 0800 777 797 to order a copy.
Remember, we welcome your suggestions and ideas. Did you find the newsletter useful, what can be done to make it more useful, and what worked or didn’t work?
Please send any feedback to: