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Centrelink and retirement

Even the most financially-prepared retiree may be able to receive some government support in retirement.

While some will qualify for more government support than others, you may be surprised at the various ways in which Centrelink can help; qualifying for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or Pensioner Concession Card could save you a significant amount of money.

Do I qualify for government assistance?

Below we discuss the more commonly accessible forms of Centrelink support – the Age Pension and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card – but depending on your circumstances you may also qualify for other payments. Detailed information on the full range of benefits offered by the Australian Government can be found on their Older Australians page.

 

Centrelink support


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  1.  Age Pension

    The Age Pension exists to provide some level of support through retirement.

    The maximum pension rate as at 20 March 2015
    Single
    $860.20* per fortnight
    Couple (each)
    $648.40* per fortnight

    * Source:  Department of Human Services Age Pension page, as at 21 April 2015
    These amounts include the maximum pension supplement and the energy supplement.

    Qualifying for the Age Pension

    You may qualify for the Age Pension if you:

    • pass both the Income and Assets tests (or, in plain English, what Centrelink considers your income and the value of what you own)
    • are an Australian resident or meet other residence requirements
    • are above the current qualifying age:
    Date of birth
    Qualifying age
    1 January 1949 to 30 June 1952 65
    1 July 1952 to 31 December 1953 65.5
    1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955 66
    1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956 66.5
    1 January 1957 and later 67


    Source:  Department of Human Services Age Pension page, as at 21 April 2015


    Income test


    Your income determines if, and how much, Age Pension you might get.

      Maximum income you can earn to receive the full Age Pension (fortnightly) Maximum income you can earn to receive full part pension* (fortnightly)
    Single up to $160 less than $1,880.40
    Couple (combined) up to $284 less than $2,877.60
    How your pension
    payment is affected
    Income over these amounts reduces the maximum pension payable by 50 cents in the dollar. Income over these amounts reduces the maximum pension payable by 40 cents in the dollar.


    * Source: Department of Human Services Income test for pensions page, as at 21 April 2015. This figure may be higher if you are eligible for Pharmaceutical Allowance or qualify for Rent Assistance.

    for further information on the income tests, see the Department of Human Services Income test for pensions page.

    Assets tests

    Property (excluding the home you live in) and other investments and items you or your partner own or have an interest in can affect your Age Pension payment.

    To receive the maximum pension amount, your assets must not exceed the limits set out below.

    Assets test thresholds for full pension*
    Family situation For homeowners full pension assets must be less than For non-homeowners full pension assets must be less than
    Single $202,000 $348,500
    Couple (combined) $286,500 $433,000


    * Source: the Department of Human Services Assets page, as at 2 March 2015. These figures may be higher if you also qualify for Rent Assistance.

    Assets test thresholds for part pension*
    Family situation For homeowners full pension assets must be less than For non-homeowners full pension assets must be less than
    Single $775,500 $922,000
    Couple (combined) $1,151,500 $1,298,000


    * Source: the Department of Human Services Assets page, 2 March 2015. These figures may be higher if you also qualify for Rent Assistance.

    •  for further information on the Assets tests, see the Department of Human Services Assets page.
  1.  Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

    The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is available to self-funded retirees who are of Age Pension age but do not qualify for an Age Pension or any payment by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. It is also subject to an income test; you can find out more on the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card page.

    A Commonwealth Seniors Health Card helps older Australians with:

    • receiving a discount on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescription medicines.
    • bulk billed doctor appointments (at the discretion of the doctor).
    • cheaper out of hospital medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net.
    • concessional rail travel on Great Southern Rail services, such as The Indian Pacific, The Ghan, and The Overland.
    • access to extra health, household, transport, education, and recreation concessions that are offered by state or territory and local governments and private businesses.
    • receiving a Seniors Supplement, which aims to help you meet the cost of daily household and living expenses.
    The current rates for the Seniors Supplement are:
    Single $894.40 per year
    Couple (each) $673.40 per year


    Source: Department of Human Services Seniors Supplement page, 2 March 2015

    Your eligibility for the Seniors Supplement is automatically assessed when you claim a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

    further information on the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, see the Department of Human Services Commonwealth Seniors Health Card page.

  1.  Other government payments and service

    Depending on your personal circumstances, you could also be entitled to other payments and services from the government. We have provided links to the Department of Human Services web pages if you’re interested to find out more:

Retirement