The various financial factors taken into consideration by the government when determining your eligibility for the Age Pension, such as income, savings, and assets.
The residency criteria for Age Pension eligibility.
The various ways in which you can lodge a claim for the Age Pension.
There’s one topic that concerns many of us as we approach the latter stages of our careers – will we be able to access the Age Pension?
Whether you’re on the cusp of retirement or just curious about what the future holds, understanding your eligibility for the Age Pension is a very important aspect of retirement planning.
The Age Pension is provided by the Australian government to eligible individuals who have reached the Age Pension age, which is currently 67. It’s designed to help seniors maintain a decent standard of living during their retirement years.
Age Pension age
The eligibility age for the Age Pension is not set in stone. The government has been gradually increasing it in recent years. It was increased again in July this year. Now, those born after 1 January 1957 need to wait until they turn 67 to claim it.
To qualify for the Age Pension, you must be an Australian resident and present in Australia on the day you apply. You’ll also need to meet certain residence requirements, which include:
You must have been an Australian resident for at least 10 years (with some exceptions).
Of those 10 years, you must have been an Australian resident for at least five years continuously.
If you don’t meet these requirements, there are some exceptions and agreements in place with other countries that might still allow you to claim the Age Pension, but it’s a good idea to seek advice from the Department of Human Services or a financial adviser to clarify your situation.
Income and assets test
Eligibility is subject to an income and assets test. This is where things can get a bit tricky, as it depends on your financial situation. The government uses both tests to determine your eligibility and the amount you’ll receive.
Let’s break down each of those tests:
Income test – Your income – which includes your personal pension, wages, investments, and even some gifts – is assessed. The government has specific income thresholds, and if your income exceeds these limits, it can affect the amount of Age Pension you receive.
Assets test – The assets test takes into account the value of your assets, such as savings, investments, real estate, and any motor vehicles you own. If your assets are valued above a certain threshold, it can impact your Age Pension entitlement.
When it comes to assessing your financial situation, the government uses something called deeming rates for financial investments like savings accounts and term deposits. These rates assume a set rate of return on your investments, regardless of what you’re actually earning. As of September 2023, the deeming rates were as follows:
For singles – The first $60,400 of your financial assets has the deemed rate of 0.25% applied. Anything over $60,400 is deemed to earn 2.25%.
For couples – The first $100,200 of your combined financial assets has the deemed rate of 0.25% applied. Anything over $100,200 is deemed to earn 2.25%.
Keep in mind that these rates frequently change, so be sure to check the latest rates when you’re planning your retirement finances.
Claiming the Age Pension
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of the eligibility criteria, let’s talk about how to claim the Age Pension. It’s a good idea to apply for the Age Pension up to 13 weeks before you reach your eligible age. You can do this by:
Visiting the Services Australia website and submitting an online claim.
Calling the Age Pension claim line.
Visiting a local Centrelink office and applying in person.
When you apply, you’ll need to provide various documents to support your claim, such as proof of identity, residency, income, and assets. Make sure you have all these documents ready to streamline the application process.
If you don’t meet the criteria for a full Age Pension, don’t fret! You might still be eligible for a part-pension. This is where the income and assets tests come into play. If your income or assets are slightly above the thresholds for a full pension, you could receive a partial payment.
Once you start receiving the Age Pension, it’s essential to keep your personal and financial details up to date. Changes in your income, assets, or living situation can affect your entitlement. So, be sure to notify Centrelink of any changes promptly to avoid any overpayments or underpayments.
Consider getting professional advice
Navigating the Age Pension can be complex, especially when you consider the various rules and changes that can occur over time. That’s why it’s highly recommended to seek professional financial advice before making any significant decisions about your retirement plans.
We can help you to maximise your entitlements and ensure you’re making the most of your retirement income.
Lastly, keep abreast of any changes that may affect your entitlements. Government policies and eligibility criteria can change, so it’s important to keep up with the latest updates to ensure you don’t miss out on anything.
The Age Pension is a lifeline for many Australian seniors, but the eligibility process can be a bit of a maze. By understanding the age requirements, residency criteria, income and assets tests, and seeking professional advice, you’ll be better placed to determine your eligibility.
Remember, planning for retirement is a journey. Armed with the right knowledge, you can look forward to enjoying this phase of your life to the fullest.
Contact us for more information.
* Based on KPMG Super Insights 2023 Report as at May 2023 KPMG Super Insights 2023 Report