Pensioners can worry less now about their finances when on medical referral to New Zealand, after the Fono Ekepule yesterday passed the amendments to the 1991 Pension and Benefits Act.
The change means that pensioners can receive their Niue government pension in New Zealand for up to six months.
Essentially, the law updates the requirements for a person to be eligible for a pension and expands the eligibility period from 3 months to 6 months for pensioners who are overseas on a medical referral, taking up a diplomatic posting, or other services for the government.
In order to qualify to apply for a government pension, one must be sixty years old, is Niuean or a permanent resident, and is present in Niue.
Niueans returning to Niue after a lengthy period living abroad should be ordinarily residing in Niue for a continuous period of at least three years at any time after turning 20 years of age and have been ordinarily living in Niue continuously for a period of at least six months before they can apply for the Niue pension.
The amendment to the law is clear in that the pensioner is entitled to only one pension, either the Niue government pension or the New Zealand pension.
Premier Dalton Tagelagi explained that Cabinet recognizes an increasing number of Niueans from New Zealand who have returned to retire on the island after turning 60 years old and waiting to receive their New Zealand pension at 65.
The Niue government pension is not means tested which means that some pensioners can earn a salary if they are still employed, earn their superannuation if they are retired public servants,s and received their fortnightly pension.
Pensioners last month received a $30 increase to their pension, increasing it to either $440 for those 60 to 69 years and $450 for those 70 – 79 years, and $480 every two weeks for the Tupunas 80 years and over.