The rules associated with retirement income, and the Age Pension in particular, are complex. It is vital that you fully understand how they will be applied to your situation.
Retirement is definitely a time for careful planning and being well informed about what is available.
Whatever your situation, it is important that you know the options available to you and the services that can assist you. It is also important that you carefully consider the decisions you may need to make in retirement.
There is income support, health and aged care, seniors’ cards, financial planning, superannuation, housing and rent assistance – to name just a few. And to find out about each topic, you have to contact a different government department or service.
Research and planning will assist you to make the most of the entitlements and responsibilities that come with retirement.
Centrelink is one of the agencies (Medicare and Child Support the other two) that operates under the banner of Services Australia and is responsible for assessing eligibility and the payment of social security benefits.
Older Australians have the right to claim income support as they age. Eligibility for payments is subject to certain criteria. A person’s age, residency in Australia and level of income and assets is taken into account in determining eligibility and the rate of payment. For couples, combined circumstances are taken into account.
The Age Pension is a fortnightly payment providing income support to eligible Australians.
For some, the Age Pension is the sole source of income in retirement. For others, the Age Pension can be used to supplement other sources of income, such as from superannuation or employment.
Recipients of the Age Pension may be able to receive additional payments such as Rent Assistance, the Pension Supplement and the Clean Energy Supplement. These are fortnightly or lump sum payments to help with rent and bills.
Recipients of the Age Pension are entitled to concessions through the Pensioner Concession Card.
People receiving the Age Pension may be eligible for more than one type of payment. For example, you may be eligible for both the Age Pension and the Carer Payment.
You can find out more about Age Pension eligibility on the YourLifeChoices website.
The Carer Payment is an income support payment for eligible carers providing constant daily care in the home of a person aged 16 or over with a severe disability, a medical condition or who is elderly and frail.
The Carer Payment is intended for people whose care responsibilities mean that they are unable to work in substantial paid employment.
Recipients of the Carer Payment may be eligible to receive additional support through Rent Assistance, the Carer Supplement and the Clean Energy Supplement. These are fortnightly or lump sum payments to help you pay rent and bills. Recipients will also be entitled to a Pensioner Concession Card.
The Carer Allowance is a supplementary payment for eligible carers who provide daily care in their home or in the home of a person aged 16 or over who has a disability or medical condition, or who is elderly and frail.
The Carer Allowance is different to the Carer Payment because it is not means tested, therefore your income and assets do not affect your eligibility. This means that if you are eligible, you will receive the Carer Allowance no matter what other income you receive. It is available to people who are working, self-funded retirees and people receiving income support payments. These can include the Age Pension, the Carer Payment or a pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Grandparent Child Care Benefit
The Grandparent Child Care Benefit is available to eligible grandparents who are the primary carers of a grandchild or grandchildren. The benefit covers the full cost of childcare for up to 50 hours for each child in approved care each week.
To be eligible, a grandparent will need to be the natural, adoptive or step grandparent of the child, a great-grandparent or their partner and the primary carer of the grandchild. You must be in receipt of an income support payment such as the Age Pension or Carer Payment.
You may be entitled to Rent Assistance if you pay rent for private accommodation and receive a Centrelink payment, including the Age Pension or Carer Payment. Rent Assistance can be provided to people in residential care facilities if these facilities are not already subsidised by the Australian Government.
Pension Loans Scheme
The Pension Loans Scheme (PLS) allows people of Age Pension age to access a regular income from a loan that is secured against any property you own. While the overall maximum you can receive is 150 per cent of the maximum rate of the Age Pension, your actual limit will depend on your age, how long you intend to receive payments, whether you are single or have a partner, the value of your home and how much Age Pension you receive. The formula is conservative to ensure participants do not borrow more than their home is worth.
The PLS is an alternative to a commercial reverse mortgage or equity release scheme.
A Seniors Card offers concessions on a variety of goods and services, including government services, transport and shopping within your state or territory. You can use the Seniors Card across Australia, but some restrictions may apply. The card is free, but you must apply.
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is for Australians who have reached Age Pension age, but do not receive a Centrelink payment. Eligibility depends on your annual income. This card may entitle the holder to additional refunds for medical expenses and greater discounts on prescription medicines.
Pensioner Concession Card
The Pensioner Concession Card is for recipients of the Age Pension. It is also available to people receiving some other payments, including Carer Payment and the Disability Support Pension.
A Pensioner Concession Card entitles you to reduced-cost medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
You may also be entitled to various concessions from the Australian government. These could include:
- bulk billing for doctor’s appointments (this is your doctor’s decision)
- more refunds for medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net
- assistance with hearing services through the Office of Hearing Services
- discounted mail redirection through Australia Post.
You may also be entitled to various concessions from state and territory governments and local councils – these could include:
- reductions on property and water rates
- reductions on energy bills
- reduced fares on public transport
- reductions on motor-vehicle registrations
- free rail journeys.
Pensioner Concession Card concessions are different in each state and territory and vary between local councils.
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Disclaimer: All content in the Retirement Affordability Index™ is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your