MEDIA RELEASE - Time running out for senior veterans to claim entitlement
Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison has urged senior Maitland veterans and their spouses to apply for their $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card (RSTC) before 30 November 2020 or risk losing this year’s entitlement.
There has been a great deal of confusion around the two-year RSTC trial. When it was launched early this year, veterans, their spouses and widows/widowers were excluded from the program.
“In late January the Liberals and Nationals Government began rolling out a trial of the RTSC but excluded recipients of Department of Veterans’ Affairs aged pensions, service pensions and disability pensions provided under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, and war widow(er)s,” Ms Aitchison said.
Ms Aitchison wrote multiple letters to the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads on behalf of Maitland veterans and their spouses, demanding that they be included in the program.
“In mid-February the Government did a major back flip, but failed to directly notify veterans, their spouses or widow(ers), and these people are now running out of time to claim their 2020 entitlement,” Ms Aitchison said.
“All the Government did to inform people was to quietly amend the Service NSW website to say that the trial would be extended to eligible senior veterans and their spouses.”
Having written to Maitland’s seniors at the launch of the program, and having placed paid advertisements and raised the issue in local media, Ms Aitchison’s office was inundated with inquiries from frustrated seniors who had difficulty accessing their entitlement.
The expanded RSTC trial now includes Department of Veterans’ Affairs clients who receive one of the following:
Disability Pension under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986
War Widow(er) Pension OR
Hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
To apply for a card, seniors receiving Department of Veterans Affairs benefits should call 13 77 88 or visit www.service.nsw.gov.au.
“You should receive your card in the mail in around two weeks,” Ms Aitchison said. “Once you receive it, you’ll need to activate it within 45 days. You can do this online or call 13 77 88.”
To help seniors navigating the activation process, Ms Aitchison offered the following tips:
After keying in any information, such as your card number, press the ‘hash’ # key.
When you enter your birthday, type the month and year in a four-numeral format, followed by the ‘hash’ # key. For example, if you were born in May 1957, enter 0557# .
You can use the telephone number on the back of your RSTC to access a lot of information. For example, you can check your balance and change your PIN – even if you don’t remember what your old PIN was.
Applicants must also have received their pension, or held their card, for at least one month.
“My staff are also happy to assist,” Ms Aitchison said. “As their help may involve dialling the RSTC telephone line on your behalf, please call or email my office to make an appointment to come into my office so we can ensure someone is are available to answer any questions while we maintain a COVIDSafe environment. You can email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 4933 1617.”
HANDY INFO AND HINTS
WHAT IS A RSTC?
RSTCs are Visa debit cards, pre-loaded to a value of $250.
HOW CAN I USE IT?
You can use them anywhere that accepts Visa debit cards to purchase fuel, taxi travel, or pay for pre-booked NSW Trainlink Regional train and coach journeys.
WHAT DO I TELL THE CASHIER?
Many retailers don’t know what the Regional Seniors Travel Card is. When you go to pay and you’re asked what payment method you’re using, say ‘Visa Debit Card’. Just to be safe, always have an alternate form of payment available.
HOW LONG CAN I USE IT?
You have 12 months from the day of activation to spend the pre-loaded $250. It will expire after that day. You will be able to apply for another card in early 2021.
If you’re having problems, you can call 13 77 88 to connect with Service NSW.