Your money

Money and your retirement

Your retirement income needs to see you all the way to the end of your life. The first step in your retirement planning starts here: read our tips and find out what government benefits might apply to you.

Government benefits and concessions

While there is no official retirement age in Australia, normally you must be at least 55 years old to access your super, and different government benefits apply from different ages.

The laws about benefits change regularly, so make sure you keep up-to-date.

Age pension

Currently both men and women can receive the Age Pension from 65.5 and about 70% of Australians rely on a part or full Age Pension.

Visit the Department of Human Services' Older Australians webpage to find out if you are eligible for payments for your retirement or call 13 23 00.

Work out when you would be entitled to the Age Pension and superannuation.

Super and pension age calculator

Benefits for Age Pensioners

  • Centrepay - a free direct bill paying service available as a regular deduction from your Centrelink payments
  • Pensioner Concession Card - gives you access to cheaper utility and medical bills, including discounts on eligible prescriptions, and discounts on public transport in some states.
  • Payments for carers - if you care for someone with severe disability, a medical condition or who is frail aged.
  • Work Bonus - if you're still working, this payment could help you earn more without reducing your pension.

Pension aged veterans

You may be eligible for certain benefits and pensions if you're an ex-service member and of pension age. For example, veterans can receive the Service Pension five years earlier than the Age Pension. Some benefits are income and assets tested. To find out more, call the Department of Veterans' Affairs on 133 254 (regional callers: 1800 555 254).

Seniors cards

Generally, if you are over 60 and work less than 20 hours per week, you can get a Seniors Card, which offers discounts to a range of commercial businesses and some public services. Each state and territory has its own eligibility rules.

Government loans

While it can be difficult for pensioners to get a loan from a bank, the Department of Human Services offers some alternatives:

  • Pension Loans Scheme - If you are not on the full pension due to your income or assets (but not both), you can use your real estate as security for a loan. This scheme is for people who receive part pension or no pension who need money to live on.
  • Advance payment - You can receive your social security payment in advance if you need some help to cover immediate expenses.

Government benefits for health expenses

These government benefits can help you save on your health expenses when you're older.

  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: Once you've reached pension age and even if you're a self-funded retiree, you might be eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which gives you access to cheaper prescriptions and possibly bulk-billed GP consultations.
  • Medicare Safety Net: If you and your family see many doctors and specialists during the year, the Medicare Safety Net will reduce your out-of-pocket expenses once you've spent a certain amount.
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Safety Net card: The government has created a 'safety net' threshold to help families with the cost of medicines. Once you spend up to the threshold, medicines will be less expensive or free for the rest of the calendar year. Apply for your Medicare PBS Safety Net card at your pharmacy.
  • Early detection programs and free immunisations: You can get free vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal disease; free screenings for bowel cancer; free breast screenings and Pap smears for women; and free prostate cancer tests if you qualify. Find out about cancer screenings or ask your doctor for more information.
  • Annual health assessment: Once you turn 75 (or 55 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders), you can get a free annual health assessment from your doctor (if they don't bulk bill, you may have to pay the gap).
  • Home medication review: If you live at home and take more than five medications a day, this free review can help you to use your medicines more effectively and avoid unwanted effects. Talk to your GP or pharmacist if you're interested.

Finally, check if you are paying too much for health insurance. If it's been a while since you checked your benefits, you could save money by reassessing whether your current plan matches your needs. Compare registered private health funds on the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman website.

Money management in retirement

Tax

If you have reached Age Pension age, you may be eligible for additional income tax offsets, which means you can earn more without paying tax.

These offsets are based on age, income and eligibility for government pensions, and allow you to earn more income. Find out more about the Australian Tax Office: Senior Australians tax offsets on 13 28 61.

Bank accounts

Saving your money is a good way to grow your retirement income. There are some basic low-cost bank accounts specifically designed for pensioners and seniors. Check with your bank for more information. The Australian Banking Association has more information on affordable banking.

Scams and bad-value investments

Defrauding of older Australians

ACCC data shows that older Australians suffer from higher losses when scammed (compared to other age demographics), with investment schemes among the most common types of scams affecting people aged over 55. Beware of becoming the victim of a scam: find out how to avoid investment scams.

The ACCC's Scamwatch website also has advice for seniors about ways you can protect yourself from some common scams.

Early access to super

Beware of offers to access your super early. It is illegal to access your super before age 55 (at the earliest) except in very special circumstances. See superannuation scams for more information.

Family pressures about money

While it can be helpful to get the opinions of your family and friends on financial matters, you need to think carefully about giving away any power over your investments.

Sometimes older people find themselves being pressured by family or friends to hand over control of their money or property. This is financial abuse.

If this is happening to you or someone you know, you can get free legal advice from a community legal centre or Legal Aid office in your state or territory. 

Learn as much as you can about your financial situation while you're in your 50s to make the most of your retirement money. You might find it useful to visit a financial adviser.


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Last updated: 14 Feb 2019