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Learn how to top up your income with government benefits

More than half of all Australians age 65+ receive the Age Pension1. Even if you don’t think you could be eligible, understanding your options is an important consideration.

You could be eligible to receive the Age Pension, even if you receive a retirement income from other sources. This could include your super, as well as other savings and investments you may have.

There is a lot to consider – starting with whether you are eligible.

 

 

Find out if you’re eligible for the Age Pension

Generally, to be eligible for the Age Pension, you must:

  • be an Australian resident and have lived in Australia for at least 10 years, and
  • be age 66 or more, depending on when you were born, and
  • meet the income and asset tests.

The minimum age you can start receiving the Age Pension depends on when you were born.

If you were born in Your pension ages is
Between 1 July 1952 and 31 December 1953 65 years and 6 months
Between 1 January 1954 and 30 June 1955 66 years
Between 1 July 1955 and 31 December 1956 66 years and 6 months
From 1 January 1957 onwards 67 years

You may not be eligible now, but your situation could change, so it’s important to keep checking.

 

The income and assets test

These tests look at and measure your income (how much money you get) and your assets (how much your assets are worth,).

If your income or assets are above the allowable limits, your pension payment will be reduced, or you may not be eligible at all.

The income test includes money you receive such as from your employment, pensions, annuities, investments and any investments or earnings outside Australia.

The assets test includes investment properties, caravans, cars and boats and any business assets. Your family home, if you live in it, isn't counted in the assets test. But, it’s worth noting that if you sell your home, it could affect your entitlements.

Find out more about the income and assets tests.

 

Age Pension rates for singles and couples

The amount you can receive is different for singles and couples, and depends on your income and assets tests.

The maximum basic rate of Age Pension payment* for:

  • singles is $882.20 a fortnight or $22,937.20 a year
  • couples is $1,330 a fortnight or $34,580 a year

These amounts don’t include any supplements, such as Pension Supplements (which includes a regular extra payment to help with utility, phone, internet and medicine costs) and Energy Supplements (which is an extra payment to help with energy costs).

The maximum supplements* available for the Age Pension are:

  • singles is $85.30 a fortnight
  • couples is $128.60 a fortnight

* As at September 2021

 

How to apply for the Age Pension

You can apply up to 13 weeks before you reach your age pension eligibility requirements. Services Australia can help you with your claim.

Application Form

Additional Government benefits

When you retire, you may be eligible for government benefits on top of the age pension, including a concession cards and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

The kind of benefits you're entitled to generally depends on your age, assets and income.

  • Concession Cards

    The following cards provide seniors, retirees and pensioners with discounts on items or services, including health care, transport and utilities.

    Pensioner Concession Card

    Gives you access to cheaper utility and medical bills, and discounts on public transport in some states. You must:

    • be aged 60 or over, and
    • get the Age Pension or other payments from Centrelink

    More information on the Pensioner Concession Card is available on the Services Australia website.

    Seniors cards

    Offers a discount on public transport and some goods and services. Generally, you must:
    • be aged 60 or over, and
    • work less than 20 hours per week

    Eligibility varies depending on where you live. You can check eligibility in your state or territory using the links below:

    Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

    This card allows you to get cheaper prescriptions and medical appointments. To be eligible you must:

    • be of Age Pension age,
    • meet an income test, and
    • not receive Centrelink payments

    More information on the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is available on the Services Australia website.

  • Government loans

    If you're on or qualify for the Age Pension, you may be eligible for a Government loan through Services Australia. There are two types:

    • Pension Loans Scheme — this allows you to use real estate as security for a fortnightly loan to top up your retirement income.
    • Advance payment — you can apply to get part of your pension payment paid in advance to help cover immediate expenses.
  • Help with government benefits when you need it

    Understanding exactly which benefits you can access and the eligibility tests for each of them can be confusing. Our financial planners are here to help.

    Find out more about your advice options or request an appointment:

    You can also join one of our weekly webinars that have been designed to help you learn more about your options as you head into retirement. They’re free and are a great opportunity to talk to our highly experienced team.

Age Pension top tips

Our top tips to help you on your way

When and how to apply for the Age Pension can be confusing. To help you, our team of superannuation advisers have put together their top tips.

From when to apply, what to consider in the application process, and the importance of reporting changes to your assets and/or income as they change, our top tips have been designed to assist you.

  • When to apply – it’s good to apply early

    It’s a good idea to start the application process as early as possible, so you don’t miss out on any entitlements. You can submit your claim up to 13 weeks before you’re eligible.

    The application process can take months depending on how you complete the form and if Centrelink needs you to provide more information. It’s worth noting that your payments will only begin once your application has been approved. They won’t be backdated to the date you were eligible.

    You can submit your claim to Centrelink up to 13 weeks before you reach Age Pension age.

  • Use Centrelink’s online form to help speed up your application

    MyGov online is a simple and secure way to access government services. The online Age Pension application form can reduce your application time considerably. The paper form has more than 80 questions - where the online application form is intuitive - this means you’ll only have to answer questions that are relevant to you.

    The Services Australia website has some helpful tips and useful information to help you complete your application online.

    Once you start your online application you’ll need to submit it within 13 weeks, otherwise the form will expire and you’ll need to start again.

  • What to consider when applying

    1. Recent bank and super statements

    Ensure your bank and superannuation account statements (balance details) that you submit with your application are as recent and close to the date you apply. If your statements aren’t recent, Centrelink could ask you to update these and resupply more recent statements. Going back and forth with Centrelink will delay your application – and remember, Centrelink won’t backdate any payments that were missed due to the delay.

    A spouse’s bank and superannuation statements also need to be recent to avoid delay.

    2. Valuing your assets - home and contents, car and other

    When it comes to putting a value on your assets it’s a good idea to include the market value - this is based on how much it would be worth if you had to sell it tomorrow. It’s common to include the insurance value - the replacement value stated on an insurance document, for example a home and contents or comprehensive car insurance policy. The insurance value is usually higher than the market value, and this could inflate the value of your assets for the assets test.

    Consider using the market value of your assets, instead of the insurance value.

  • It’s important to keep Centrelink up-to-date on any changes

    Once you start receiving payments you need to update Centrelink if your income or asset values changes to avoid an over or under payment. Centrelink asks you to update your asset values twice a year (October and April). If changes fall outside these timeframes you need to notify Centrelink within 14 days of these changes.

    An underpayment could happen if you prepay a holiday or complete a renovation to your existing residence, for example. In this instance, your assets could reduce in value, and you could be entitled to more income. The sooner Centrelink knows, the quicker your payments can be reviewed to make sure you receive the correct amount.

    An overpayment could happen if you receive an inheritance or downsize your home and spend less on the new home you purchase. If you don’t let Centrelink know in time you may need to pay back the overpayment amount. Centrelink will do this by reducing your entitlement until the overpayment has been paid back. If you’re no longer entitled to receive the age pension Centrelink will ask you to pay back the overpayment amount.

    Centerlink requires that you notify them of any changes to your assets or income within 14 days.

Your team of superannuation advisers are here to help you with your age pension application at no extra cost - this service is included as part of your Aware Super membership. Book your appointment 

1 The minimum age eligibility is set to increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 on 1 July 2023.

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