Financial benefits for seniors

Client resource

One of the joys of getting older – apart from wisdom and more free time - 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 source of income during re­tire­ment.

And the pension isn’t simply handed out without question. You will need to be at least 66 or older, and satisfy both an income test and an assets test.

As a guide, a single senior who earns less than $178 per fortnight may be eligible to receive the full pension. For a couple, their combined income must be below $316 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 $268,000 may be eligible to receive the full pension. For couples, their combined assets (other than their home for homeowners) must be worth less $401,500.[2]

Your rate of Age Pension will be the lower of the outcome under the income or assets 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 $2,083.40 per fortnight (for couples $3,188.40 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 $55,808 if you’re single, or $89,290 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: Your guide to aged care

References

[1] https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/topics/income-test-pensions/30406
[2] https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/topics/assets/30621
[3] https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/topics/income-test-pensions/30406
[4] https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/pensioner-concession-card
[5] https://info.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/benefits-and-payments/older-australians/seniors-card
[6] https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/commonwealth-seniors-health-card/who-can-get-it
[7] https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/commonwealth-seniors-health-card/who-can-get-it/income-test

Take the next steps

There are many benefits to receiving a pension or even a part pension, but there are limits to what level of income or assets you can have, to be eligible.
Client resource
Super death benefits are subject to the transfer balance cap rules where a death benefit income stream is paid. Child pensions also have special rules.
Technical resource
Residential aged care can be expensive, but before clients pay the accommodation costs for a parent they need to be aware of the impact on other fees.
Technical resource

FOR ADVISERS USE ONLY

This information has been prepared by BT, a part of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL 233714 (Westpac), for financial advisers only and must not be made available to any client or any other person, or attributed to Westpac or any other company in the Westpac group.

The information is an overview only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. Any graph, case study or example is for illustrative purposes only and is not an indication of future performance or result. Where past performance is used, please note that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any taxation information is a general statement based on current laws and their interpretation. The article is current as of the date of the article unless stated otherwise. The article does not contain, and should not to be taken to contain, any financial product advice and it does not take into account any person’s financial situation, needs, objectives or taxation situation. Because of this, you should, before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your clients, having regard to their financial situation, needs and objectives, and your clients should seek independent professional taxation advice on any taxation matters. It is not the intention of Westpac or any member of the Westpac group that the information be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training and should therefore not be relied on for the purposes of making any financial recommendations or an investment decision. To the maximum extent permitted by law: (a) no guarantee, representation or warranty is given that any information or advice in this website is complete, accurate or up to date or fit for any purpose; and (b) no member of the Westpac group is in any way liable to you (including for negligence) in respect of any reliance upon such information.

This page may also contain links to websites operated by third parties (‘Third Parties’) who are not related to the Westpac Group (‘Third Party Web Sites’). These links are provided for convenience only and do not represent any endorsement or approval by the Westpac Group of those Third Parties or the information, products or services displayed or offered on the Third Party Web Sites.