Your retirement income is likely to include some kind of pension
payment or allowance from the government. Around 65% of older
Australians rely on a government pension or allowance as their main
source of personal income at retirement.
How much you get will depend on how much income you receive from
other sources and what your assets are worth. In this section, we
list some Australian Government payments and explain some of the
criteria you need to meet to qualify for an age pension.
Types of pensions
The most relevant pensions for retirees are:
- Age pensions
- Disability support
- Sickness and mobility allowances
- Bereavement allowances
- Wife pensions
- Widow B pensions
- Carer payments and allowances
The Department of Human Services' Guide to
Australian Government payments describes payment rates and
eligibility criteria for all payments made by Centrelink and the
Family Assistance Office. It also contains information on
concession cards and healthcare cards. The booklet is updated
quarterly to reflect any changes in payment rates.
Qualifying for an age
To qualify for age pension, you must satisfy age and residency
requirements. Centrelink then works out how much age pension is
payable, which depends on your income and assets and other
At what age do I get the age pension?
The qualifying age for an age pension is increasing.
The super and pension age calculator shows when you can apply
for the age pension.
and pension age calculator
What are the residency requirements?
You must be an Australian resident and in Australia on the day
you apply for an age pension. Generally you need to have lived in
Australia for over 10 years.
How much will I get?
As at September 2014, the maximum rate for an age pension
is $776.70 for a single person per fortnight. If you are a couple,
the rate is $585.50 each per fortnight. These amounts exclude the
pension and clean energy supplements, which you may receive as an
additional payment to the base pension. For singles the maximum
combined supplement rate is $77.60 a fortnight. For couples it is
$117.00 a fortnight.
Your age pension may be affected when your circumstances change.
See Department of Human Services Older Australians webpage for more
Assets and income tests
Your eligibility for the age pension is worked out by taking
into account how much income you get (the income test) and how much
your assets are worth (the assets test). The test that results in
the lower pension rate will be the one applied.
To work out how much age pension you may receive, the value of
your assets is taken into account. If you have any assets overseas,
their value will be converted into the equivalent Australian dollar
Your home, if you live in it, is not counted as an asset. If
your assets exceed a certain threshold, your pension payment will
be reduced. Find out more about assets on the Department of Human Services
Income includes money from employment; pensions/annuities; money
deemed to be earned from investments; and money that you salary sacrifice. It also includes money
from outside Australia. If your income is above a certain limit,
your pension payment will be reduced. Find out more about the income test on the Department of Human
Case study: Trevor and Natalia apply for the age pension
and Natalia have both reached retirement age. They provide their
tax returns and bank and financial statements to Centrelink for
assessment. Their combined assets are worth $200,000 and their
joint income is $45,000 a year. Their assets are modest, so they
don't affect their pension. However, as their joint income exceeds
the minimum threshold, they will only receive a part pension.
If your income or assets exceed a certain limit, your age
pension will taper off or get cut off. Speak to a Department of
Human Services Financial Information
Service (FIS) officer for more information.
Even if you don't qualify for the age pension, you may still be
able to get a concession card. For retirees, there are two types of
concession cards that provide a range of benefits, including help
with the cost of medicines.
- Commonwealth Seniors
Health Card - helps with the cost of prescription
medicines and other health services if you are of pension age but
do not qualify for the age pension
- Pensioner Concession
Card - entitles pensioners to reduced cost prescription
medicines, healthcare concessions and other concessions offered by
state and territory governments and local councils
See Over 55s -
Your money for more information.
The rules around pension payments are complex
and can change, so speak to your financial adviser or a Centrelink
FIS officer to get the latest information.
Last updated: 14 Jan 2015
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