Forgiving a loan and the pension

Ken lent money to his son, but thinks it is unlikely to be repaid. What does that mean for his pension?

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Q. Ken
As a retiree I always read your eNews, especially the various material you publish about Centrelink. It took me a year to get a part pension – quite appalling really, as it forced me to eat into my super to keep up with our living expenses. I reached retirement age before my wife who has to wait another year to access her super.

I receive a part pension under the assets test, and I wondered when Centrelink calculated the part pension I receive. Is the resulting fortnightly payment for a couple or just myself? Does she have to apply for the pension when she reaches the right age, which is 66 and a bit?

Also we gave our son a business loan of $200k and his business went bust four years ago. We have no hope of ever recovering any of that money, but it is counted as an asset by Centrelink all the same. Can I now apply for a reassessment of our/my pension?

A. When you reach the Age Pension age and your wife has not, you will still be assessed under the income and assets test as part of a couple, and will receive the couple’s rate of Age Pension, one member eligible.

With regards to the loan, a loan no longer exists for income support purposes when it has been forgiven. If you forgive a loan, this means that there is no longer any expectation that the money will be repaid to you. 

Forgiving a loan will lead to the loan amount being regarded as a gift.

A gift is any money or property that you give away for which you do not receive adequate financial consideration. 

Gifts affect your pension or payment because they either directly or indirectly reduce the assets available for your personal use.

The maximum amount you can give away, regardless of whether you are a single person or a couple, is $10,000 per year, or $30,000 over a rolling five-year period.  

The rolling five-year period is the current financial year plus the previous four financial years. 

If you give away more than $10,000 in a financial year, the amount in excess of $10,000 is counted as a financial asset for five years from the date that you gave it away. This excess amount will also be deemed to be earning income under the income test for the period of five years from the date that you gave the asset(s) away.

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website 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 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 Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Ben

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