Negotiating Australia’s entitlement system can be a confusing minefield.
In today’s episode some clear information on eligibility for the aged pension, the Commonwealth Health Card and other entitlements.
Lex Marinos speaks with Financial Information Service Officer Justin Bott from Services Australia. Note, Services Australia used to be the Department of Human Services. It now administers Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency.
Justin Bott explains that the aged pension is an income and asset tested payment for people aged 66 and over, but from July 1st the age rises to 66 and a half. From July 2023 it will be 67 years. As a guide, if you are a single person on an income of $54,168 then your income is too high for a pension. If you are in a couple, the combined income is $82,898 is too high.
Whether you own your own home and have assets is also taken into account when assessing whether you are eligible.
It’s important to note you can retire at any time depending on your financial circumstances and retirement is not related to the pension age.
The other main federal government entitlement for people over pension age is the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which is income tested but not asset tested.
It focuses on health concessions, such as reduced prescription costs and bulk billing depending on your doctor. You need to be 66, or after July 1 you must be 66 and a half to get the card.
There are also Carer’s payments and allowances, and the Disability Support Pension which people over pension age can stay on rather than switching to the age pension. You will be asked in advance if you want to do this. The rate of payment is very similar and concession cards are the same however it differs in some small details so get advice.
The Aged Pension comes with a Pension Concession Card which is also supplied with Carer’s payments and the Disability Support Pension. Each state also has their own concession cards for seniors with varying eligibility.
A person may not be eligible for an aged pension, therefore not receive the Pension Concession Card but they can still get their transport concessions through their State Government transport agency and other discounts.
Justin Bott advises the best way to find out more information about your eligibility is from Services Australia – look at the payment and services finder online. You can use a simple tool to work out your eligibility. You can also call and speaker to a Seniors Officer, or attend a Services Australia office in person.
- Call Services Australia on 132300 – say ‘Financial Information Service’ when you are asked why you are calling or stay on the line and ask for Older Australians Officer who can help with your application.
- What payments am I eligible for?
- The Aged Pension – eligibility and how to apply (information available in several languages)
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
- Moneysmart Guide to the Age Pension and Government Benefits