Lower Age Pension age back to 65 and increase rate, say Greens

Older Australians would get more money earlier under a proposal to lower the Age Pension age back down to 65.

An earlier retirement may be on the cards for thousands of Aussies, with the Greens announcing a bold plan to return the qualification age for the Age Pension to 65 by 2026, granting almost half a million people earlier access.

The party says the plan is fully costed, and is in addition to a previously announced commitment to raise the rate of the Age Pension to $88 a day.

Read: Has upcoming election forced PM’s hand on pension boost?

The initial plan to raise the eligibility to 67 was introduced by the Rudd Labor government in 2009. Since then, it has risen in small increments and is currently 66 years and six months but will officially rise to 67 on 1 July 2023.

Many people approaching retirement age have limited capacity to work in the type of jobs they used to or may have been shut out of the job market entirely.

With more than one in four older Australians living in poverty, lowering the age would expand access to vital funds for some of the most vulnerable.

Read: Pension thresholds March 2022

Greens spokesperson for family, ageing and community services Senator Janet Rice says both major parties have mostly ignored the growing problem of elder poverty in Australia.

“There are hundreds of thousands of older Australians living in poverty, counting the days until their next birthday so they can finally reach pension age,” she says.

“Thousands of older working people are living pay cheque to pay cheque and can’t afford to retire. Many are working for starvation wages, in back-breaking jobs, people who have worked hard all their lives and are being forced to wait an extra two years to retire.”

Read: Age Pension increases: 20 March 2022

Greens leader Adam Bandt says both Labor and the Liberals have failed low-income older Australians and that if his party secures the balance of power at the next election, it will push to ensure older voters aren’t left behind.

“There is a poverty crisis amongst older Australians, and it’s worse for older women, who are the fastest growing group facing homelessness,” he says.

“Older people who have worked in minimum wage jobs and in manual labour are being forced to look for work instead of enjoying the retirement they deserve. Nobody should be forced to work forever in this country, and nobody should retire into poverty.”

The party says the plan has been fully costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office and that it will be paid for by “making billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax” as well as winding back many corporate subsidies.

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Written by Brad Lockyer