Financial benefits for seniors

One of the joys of getting older – apart from wisdom and grandkids - is the ability to tap into a whole raft of financial benefits that let seniors enjoy their retirement. 

A variety of financial benefits for seniors

Let’s take a look at what’s available to help you in retirement.  

The age pension

The idea of the government funding our retirement may sound appealing but the reality isn’t quite so simple. The age pension is designed as a safety net only. In other words, it may put food on the table but don’t expect it to be your only financial income stream during retirement.

And the pension isn’t handed out without question. You will need to be age 65 and a half or over and satisfy both an income test and an assets test.

As a guide, a single senior who earns less than $172 per fortnight may be eligible to receive the full pension. For a couple, their combined income must be below $304 per fortnight.[1] Bear in mind this income includes returns on your investments and any income from super. 

Even if you meet the income test, you’ll still need to pass the assets test. A single retiree who has assets (other than their home) valued less than $258,500 may be eligible to receive the full pension. For couples their combined assets (other than their home for homeowners) must be worth less $387,500.[2]

Your rate of age pension will be the lower of the outcome under the income or asset test.

What about a part pension?

If you fail the test for a full pension, you could be eligible for a part pension. 

For instance, a single senior who earns less than $2,005 per fortnight (couple $3,067 combined) may be eligible for a part pension. [3]

It is important to note that the benefit is not limited to the extra cash you receive. As a pensioner, you may be eligible for a Pensioner Concession Card, which lets you tap into valuable discounts including reduced cost medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) [4], potential savings on power bills, council rates and more.

Seniors Card – a world of savings

Even if your income or asset levels mean you’re not eligible for a Pensioner Concession Card, you could still apply for a Seniors Card.

Each state and territory has a Seniors Card scheme and some reciprocal arrangements are in place for using your card in other states. The Seniors Card is free, and it provides a variety of concessions on transport, fares and discounts with participating businesses. 

To be eligible you need to be aged 60 or over and not working more than a set numbers of hours per week in paid employment, although eligibility criteria and benefits vary slightly between states and territories. [5]

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is issued by the Department of Human Services and you need to have reached Age Pension eligibility age to apply. There is no assets test, but your annual income must be below $54,929 if you’re single, or $87,884 for couples combined.[6]

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card provides discounts on PBS prescription medicines, with other savings available through bulk billed doctor appointments, cheaper out of hospital medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net, concessional rail travel on some services and more.[7]

Next: Aged care

[1]  https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/enablers/income-test-pensions/30406
[2] https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/enablers/assets/30621
[3]  https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/age-pension/eligibility/income-test-pensions
[4] https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/pensioner-concession-card
[5] https://www.australia.gov.au/content/seniors-card
[6] https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/commonwealth-seniors-health-card/eligibility
[7] https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/commonwealth-seniors-health-card/eligibility/income-test

Ageing is a natural part of life and just as we plan for early milestones like buying a home or the arrival of kids, it’s worth laying foundations for old age.
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Taking the time to lay some foundations for retirement can help you enjoy a rewarding lifestyle once you hang up your work boots. And the time to start is now.

This article has been written by Tim Howard, Advice Technical & Strategy Specialist and the information in this publication is current as at 20 March 2019. This information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to these factors before acting on it. This information provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. This information may contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material. Any tax considerations outlined in this publication are general statements, based on an interpretation of the current tax law, and do not constitute tax advice.  The tax implications of super investments can impact individual situations differently and you should seek specific tax advice from a registered tax agent or registered tax (financial) adviser. Superannuation is a means of saving for retirement, which is, in part, compulsory. The government has placed restrictions on when you can access your investment held in superannuation. The Government has set caps on the amount of money that you can add to superannuation each year on both a concessional and non-concessional tax basis.  There will be tax consequences if you breach these caps.  For more detail, speak with a financial adviser or visit the ATO website.