Let’s take a look at what’s available for you to dip into as a senior.
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 many luxuries.
And the pension isn’t handed out without question. You will need to be age 65 or over and satisfy both an income test and an assets test.
As a guide, a single senior who earns less than $162 per fortnight may be eligible to receive the full pension. For a couple, their combined income must be below $288 per fortnight. 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 $205,500 may be eligible to receive the full pension. For couples their combined assets (other than their home for homeowners) must be worth less $291,500.
Contact the Department of Human Services for more details.
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 $1,909 per fortnight (couple $2,922 combined) may be eligible for a part pension.
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), potential savings on power bills, council rates and more.
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.
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 $52,273 if you’re single, or $83,636 for couples combined.
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.
If you are a woman who has recently lost your husband and you were born on or before 1 July 1955, you may be eligible for the Widow Allowance. It’s only available if you have no recent workforce experience and you have become widowed, divorced or separated since turning 40. An asset test and income test applies.
This information is current as at 15/08/2016.
The information provided is factual only and does not constitute financial product advice. Before acting on it, you should seek independent financial and tax advice about its appropriateness to your objectives, financial situation and need.
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