Dealing with Centrelink can be confusing – here’s how to know if you qualify for the Age Pension in Australia
Understanding age pension eligibility is critical to your retirement planning and only becomes more important as you get closer to retirement. An essential part of your retirement plan is determining your sources of income, as your income influences your budget and when you can realistically retire. For most people this will include superannuation, it could also include investments, and for many it includes the government age pension.
The age pension provides income support to older Australians in need, based on age and residency requirements, as well as being subject to means testing.
Read on to learn more about who can get the age pension, what criteria you need to meet to be eligible for the age pension, and how it may affect your retirement income.
Who is Eligible for Age Pension?
To be eligible for Age Pension you must meet the age requirement and meet some other rules as well. If you are eligible, this process will also determine the rate you’re entitled to as a single individual or an individual as part of a couple – this could be the full pension rates, part rates, or transitional rates.
For some time the qualifying age was 65 and is gradually increasing to 67 between 2017 and 2023. The applicable retirement age for you will depend on the year you were born:
- Born between 1 July 1952 and 31 December 1953: Pension age is 65 years and 6 months from 1 July 2017.
- Born between 1 January 1954 and 30 June 1955: Pension age is 66 years from 1 July 2019.
- Born between 1 July 1955 and 31 December 1956: Pension age is 66 years and 6 months from 1 July 2021.
- Born from 1 January 1956: Pension age is 67 years from 1 July 2023.
Income and Assets Tests (Means Test Qualifications)
The age pension eligibility includes means testing, which involves an income test and an assets test.
The income and assets tests are used to assess whether or not an individual needs the age pension and, if they do need it, how much they can receive through the pension (it’s possible you may not receive the maximum age pension amount). Your income includes money you receive from employment, bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, existing pensions, annuities, investments, lump sums, scholarships, and any other taxable earnings. Assessable assets include any property or possession you own in full, in part, or have an interest in – this includes investment properties, cars, caravans, boats, and businesses.
To understand how your retirement income and assets may affect your ability to claim the age pension, it’s best to speak with a financial advisor. A finance professional can help you to make sense of the different government benefits that may be available to you and how to incorporate those into your retirement plan.
There are some exemptions to assessment for assets (not income). For example, if you own a home and you live in it, that is not considered an asset. Current asset test limits are indexed every year and it’s best to review this list and age pension rates (which can include full, part, and transitional rates) through Services Australia.
Residence Rules for Age Pension
The Residence Rules stipulate that to qualify for the Age Pension you must be an Australian resident (i.e. living in Australia on a permanent basis) and in Australia on the day the claim is lodged, and must also satisfy one of the following criteria:
- be an Australian resident for a total of at least 10 years (at least five of these years in one period).
- have a qualifying residence exemption.
- be a woman who is widowed in Australia when both she and her late partner were Australian residents, and who has 104 weeks of residence immediately before the claim.
- be receiving Widow B Pension, Widow Allowance or Partner Allowance immediately before reaching pension age.
There is an exemption to the 10-year rule, for example, if you are a refugee or a former refugee, you are exempt. You may also be able to claim if you are a resident who is living or working overseas in an “agreement country” (countries that have social security agreements with Australia).
When Can I Apply for the Age Pension?
You can submit your claim for the age pension up to 13 weeks before you reach the qualifying pension age. You can submit your claim by applying online, over the phone, or in person at a Centrelink center. Before applying, it is recommended to speak with a financial advisor or planner regarding your retirement plan and strategies to maximise your retirement finances.
Do You Have More Retirement and Age Pension Questions? Contact Novo Wealth Today!
The process and criteria for the age pension can be very involved and you will need to have a thorough understanding and proof of your financial position, income, and assets. To gather all this information accurately and efficiently to put you in the best position for your retirement, you will need the assistance of a professional and experienced financial advisor.
Novo Wealth is an exceptional and ethical financial advisor based in Adelaide, helping Australians around the country to improve their finances and retire with total peace of mind.