No cent if we stay, 350 dollars a week if we go
By Bob Stevens
I was born in Ireland in 1941 and worked in Ireland from 1958 to 1965. I receive Irish State Pension Contributory based on the amount of contributions I have made without the need of any bilateral agreement with New Zealand.
In 1965 I emigrated to Canada and lived and worked there until 1984. I receive a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) pension based on the amount of contributions made by me without the need of any bilateral agreement with New Zealand.
I also receive a Canadian Old Age Security (OAS) pension based on time spent residing in Canada and supported by a bilateral agreement with Ireland.
In 1984 I emigrated to New Zealand. Since then I have been living here and I am still working. I am legally entitled to NZ Superannuation but do not receive a penny due to the direct deduction of overseas pensions. In my opinion only Canadian OAS pension should be deducted.
Put through the wheels of Government bureaucracy
When I applied for NZ Super in 2006 I received it – less CPP and OAS from Canada. In 2007 Irish Pension Contributory kicked in. I was advised by International Services of Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) that I would no longer receive my legal entitlement to NZ Super, and they refused to send me any more fortnightly or monthly statements.
I applied for and received a Benefit Review Hearing to which the chairman turned up 15 minutes late only to dismiss my claim. The Hogan case was quoted for Canada, the Tetley-Jones case was quoted for Ireland.
Although I felt fobbed off I did not immediately apply to the Social Security Appeal Authority. This was because of mooted Government changes regarding the Direct Deduction and Spousal Provision undercut applied to overseas pensions, and new rules for payment of NZ Super overseas. However, what came out of those mooted changes only concerned payment of NZ Super overseas. I then applied for an “out of time” hearing to the Social Security Appeal Authority as I had new evidence to present. This time, even my application was refused.
No statements, late statements, wrong statements …
Later I received a bill from International Services for an overpayment of NZ$ 22 for a period of time after the date they had shown me to be cut off from payments. I asked for statements for that period but this was refused. Letters went back and forth. On each letter from WINZ I was told that I had three months to ask for a review. I decided to ask for one then and, lo and behold, MSD said they would forgive the overpayment.
I informed them I did not want to drop the Benefit Review until WINZ provided me with back statements as I contended they could well owe me money. These statements finally surfaced this January! I got the first one for the period up to 19 January 2010, which showed an excess figure of just over NZ$ 4. Then, two weeks later, three years of statements arrived. They showed 11 months where I should have been paid. The total owing was about NZ$ 65. I had received none of this money or any statements.
… and a lot of calculation blunder and secret deductions
Incidentally the first statement showed an excess of NZ$ 4 for the month while a second one for the same month showed an excess of NZ$ 2. It seemed like they arrived at their figures by chance rather than comprehensible calculations.
The second bunch of statements also showed a deduction from my wife’s NZ Super for any excess I had. I advised my wife of this. She told me this was nonsense as she had not been advised. She then looked at her bank statements which showed even greater deductions! In fact, from December 2009 her CPP had been deducted without notice. The following day she received a letter telling her that the amount of her CPP would be deducted from her NZ Super from February 2010. Yet WINZ has been deducting it since December 2009!
One person my wife spoke to at WINZ told her she should try and stop me from protesting direct deductions as they found many people were becoming ill and marriages affected when they were trying to win their claims. I should just accept it as New Zealand law. The message was clear: I should simply put up with it and shut up.
The interpretation of Section 70 hinges on one person’s individual view
It is still my belief Section 70 is being misinterpreted by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development, and in fact the Chief Executive has agreed with me in a report to the last Labour Government. This report was signed by David Benson-Pope, the then Minister for Social Development and Employment, in 2005.
I also have a letter from International Services showing both my wife and I would receive proportional NZ Super as well as all our overseas pensions without deduction if we returned to Canada to live. This represents over NZ$ 350 per week extra if we leave New Zealand for Canada.
Recently I met with the current Minister for Senior Citizens, John Carter, regarding my concerns. He had only a couple of minutes but he assured me if ever I proved myself correct and it would be unlawful to deduct overseas personal private pensions like the Canada Pension Plan, then they, the National Government, would change the law, so the Direct Deduction Policy could be continued as now. The reason according to Carter simply is that it is financially just not possible not to deduct those pensions because they represent too much money for New Zealand to receive. Yet Kiwi Saver - which is not deducted from NZ Super - is modelled on CPP. Where is the logic?
(Bob Stevens held this speech at the Overseas Pension Forum in Auckland on 24 February 2010. It was edited for this website.)
NOT Bob Stevens.
“Letters went back and forth. Finally, in 2009 three years of statements arrived.”
“My wife told me the deductions were nonsense because she had not been advised. She then looked at her bank statements which showed even greater deductions!”
“One person at WINZ told my wife she should try and stop me from protesting as they found many people were becoming ill and marriages affected when they were trying to win their claims.”
“It is still my belief Section 70 is being misinterpreted by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development.”
“Both my wife and I would receive proportional NZ Super as well as all our overseas pensions without deduction if we returned to Canada to live.”