Will Suzie’s retirement see her hubby lose his pension?

Suzie is approaching retirement age and is worried her husband will lose his Age Pension.

Suzie is approaching retirement age and is worried her husband will lose his Age Pension once her superannuation is considered an asset.


Q. Suzie
My husband receives a part Age Pension from Centrelink and also draws an amount from his superannuation fund. I turned 64 recently and because of the amount of super I have, I understand that I will not qualify for a pension when I reach retirement age and that my super will then count as an asset and my husband will lose his part pension.

I understand I need to “spend” about $350,000 before I reach retirement age for him to keep that part pension and maybe even for me to receive a part pension. We will probably move within the next five years to be closer to medical facilities, etc. Should I buy a small unit in the city now for us to move into later?

A. If you own your current residence and are not planning on selling it straight away, you will still have a large asset that could preclude you from receiving the pension.

However, if you are planning on selling your current residence and buying and residing in a new property closer to the city that is worth $350,000 more than the sale price of your current residence, you may become eligible for an Age Pension as your primary place of residence is exempt from the assets test.

Before making any decisions, I think it would be worthwhile to make an appointment to see an independent financial adviser so you can maximise your income options in retirement.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

Are you eligible for an Age Pension? Do you know your rights? The RetirePlanner™ tool has all the information you need.


    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.


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    21st Jan 2019
    I’m not sure where anyone finds an “independent financial adviser “ these days as they all have their own agenda and commissions. You should make an appointment with Centrelink FIS officer to discuss personal circumstances, and you can do it by phone too if you prefer. It’s FREE.
    Karl Marx
    21st Jan 2019
    do it by phone lol, if you can get through. Best to go direct to Centrelink & demand a customer service officer, even waiting an hour or 2 is better than being on hold for maybe longer.
    21st Jan 2019
    You really want the Centrelink Financial Services Officer. Our local guy is great but you need to make an appointment
    21st Jan 2019
    I’m sorry but some people like you Suzy I find greedy. You may not be wealthy but even if you have 350k that you need to spend to get under a threshold you need to spend that for a few years and then go for your pension. Better still downsize make more money from sale and leave the pension to those less fortunate like single elderly. Good luck for saving hard but now it’s time to spend not hoard and bludge.
    21st Jan 2019
    I have to agree with you MJM.

    That $350,000 is a good 10 years of living costs (or near as damn it) off the pension. And even at that stage, you would still have a nice amount PLUS probably a part pension when that time comes.

    That is exactly the purpose of super, to support yourself in retirement!
    21st Jan 2019
    Agree MJM & KSS! Why worry about the pension if you have funds to enjoy your retirement lifestyle & do it while you both have good health as no one knows what's coming up health wise! Not everyone has been fortunate enough to have a job for so long to accumulate that amount. Leave the pension to the definite needy - super is to fund retirement not the pension.
    21st Jan 2019
    We're not talking about spending down $350k - we're talking about how much $350k can bring in over any prescribed period....

    At bank rates of 3% (rough shot in the dark) - that's around $11,500 pa - not enough to live on, and not a pension rate.....

    Even if it's four times that - 12% return pa (hmmmmm) ... that's $46,000 (is this for a couple or a single?) - which under normal income conditions would mean part pension.....

    Sounds like territory for a part pension to me....
    Karl Marx
    21st Jan 2019
    My sister who retired at 61 is in the same boat. She accepts the fact that her husband may lose his small part pension & they both will not qualify.
    They do a lot of their overseas & domestic travel now while her husband's health still enables them to. But she isn't worried about trying to spend as much as possible just accepts that is what it is & being happy & doing what they want, when they want, how they want is more important than stressing out on Centrelink.
    21st Jan 2019
    That’s how we feel too. I see Centrelink as the safety net.
    21st Jan 2019
    Use C/Link as a last resort ,we may qualify for a part pension but have chosen not to apply just a pain for such a small return.We were taught to stand on our own two feet.
    21st Jan 2019
    Yes and no Floss. The health card and concessions are worth quite a bit. I’m sure you missed out on baby bonus, childcare rebate, maternity leave, Family tax benefits etc.
    21st Jan 2019
    Yes - retrospective childcare bonus, ppl, and such would net my ex around $150k, and myself around $200k in government payment.....

    I did figures on it once for yez...

    Take what you can get from Colonel C'Link.....

    (Schultz! Vhy are zer prissoners vanting more to eat? Don't zey know zere iss a VAR on?)..
    21st Jan 2019
    Reply to 1984. The assets of a couple are added together and the aged pension that is applicable to a couple is then equally divided between that couple. So the couple will each get the exact same amount, even though one half of the couple may actually have more assets.
    Karl Marx
    21st Jan 2019
    Yes I understand how it works but my sister isn't of pension age at the moment so differnt rules apply
    21st Jan 2019
    Independant advisor,,,, you are paying for a opinion,,,,if you go broke because of one, they will just move on to the next bunny.
    Barbara Mathieson
    21st Jan 2019
    I’m pleased that this couple have options for their future.
    Damn hard being a solo senior female and renting.
    21st Jan 2019
    Totally agree Barbara!
    Gett'n Older
    21st Jan 2019
    Superannuation is not for banking an looking at. The Government gave tax concessions for Superannuation for you to use it to live when you retire....that's how its supposed to work.
    21st Jan 2019
    You use the return from it to live on - you do not touch the capital saved... don't you understand how 'old money' works?

    21st Jan 2019
    System needs an overhaul to approach reality....

    (sounds like one of my short sci-fi stories... as the crystal ship approached light speed, unusual things began to happen... I turned around, moving like glue, and confronted myself in my immediate past.... surely the definition of hell is viewing yourself looking at yourself when about to vanish into a a great unknown.... as we hit Warp One, I waved goodbye and my self waved goodbye back..... adios Old Friend) ...

    Anyway - the answers to the current confusion (calculated policy choice to confuse the issue endlessly and keep the paisans off balance) have been laid out here times many.....

    (bows and leaves stage)....
    22nd Jan 2019
    That's a lot of Super. Super came in in 1992 and only reached 9.5% in the last few years.
    To earn that much super one would have to earn over $120,000 per year for the past 35 years or so.
    22nd Jan 2019
    25 years or so !!
    Karl Marx
    22nd Jan 2019
    Not if you salary sacrificed especially in the later years when you are debt free. Max 25k per annum with only 15% for tax makes that approx $21k per year or $42k per couple is possible & that doesn't include any after tax contributions, would add up pretty nicely over a period of time.
    22nd Jan 2019
    There are many ways to accumulate super. I have friends who have substantial super despite NEVER having employer-funded super at all and never earning much. They had no super until very late in their working lives but had worked for next to nothing for years to create a software product and when they sold the license they chose to put the lot into super because otherwise it would have been taxed at 46%, which was unfair because the income should, in fairness, have been averaged over the years it took to earn it.

    So many judgments here by people who don't have the facts!

    Now, given that my friends only invested most of their personal earnings in super - having lived on next to nothing for years to acquire those savings - why shouldn't they now spend that money on themselves and draw a pension? If they had been paid the same amount but received it week to week, they would have lived on it - a much better lifestyle - and be eligible for a pension now.

    The system is flawed. Don't blame people whose full situation you know nothing about for exploiting the flaws. They may be manipulating unfairly, or they may simply be trying to circumvent unfairness to them by a flawed system.
    23rd Jan 2019
    I started my super in 1975 with CML. Not compulsory I know, but, after crunching the numbers of diminishing workforce and pension payments it was apparent then that pension payments were going to be stressed.
    Happy to be self funded.
    22nd Jan 2019
    The Old Age Pension should be for those who really need it and not for those who manipulate their financial affairs in such a way as to receive a pension. I am not suggesting that we should not manage our affairs in such a way as to be tax efficient with our capital but I find the idea of upsizing/relocation as a means to ensure eligibility for a part pension ethically poor and those undertaking such actions as to be greedy. If we are able to look after ourselves then we should do so and leave Centre Link payments to those who are not able to look after themselves.
    22nd Jan 2019
    Read my comment above, Alan.

    The ONLY way to stop manipulation and make the system fair and economical is to pay a universal pension and tax all retirement income.
    22nd Jan 2019
    Plenty of people have upsized or relocated into more expensive and luxurious homes around every ten years for decades instead of saving for their retirement. They now need the aged pension or to sell the house. They've manipulated affairs to end up with million dollar homes and to get a pension and entitlements.

    Those that stayed in their first home and saved into income producing assets get nothing. I don't think that is a bit fair.

    Some spent everything on fancy education for kids, holidays, dining out , clubbing, hobbies and toys and get rewarded for it by government favour.

    Rainey is right. Everyone should be treated the same way for fairness. All get the pension and all other income taxed according to ATO rules.
    22nd Jan 2019
    We are heading close to a universal pension if Bill Shorten gets his Franking Credit Policy up, with more SFR relying on Centrelink.
    Rainey, I have to say that I'm a convert to universal pension now that I've had the time to drill down and marinate the concept for a little while. It makes perfect sense to remove the complexity and angst for older people formulating a retirement income strategy.
    A universal pension would also disadvantage our politicians as they would struggle to find new ways to disadvantage sub groups of retirees.
    22nd Jan 2019
    Alan, that's a very narrow view of the world.
    Great comments from OGR, Rae & Adrianus, more people need to push their politicians hard for Universal Age Pension as the current system is fully broken and it is hard to repair it with no interest in it for politicians. Absolutely Adrianus, removing this as a football for politicians to bug retirees (allowing them to lead their lives peacefully) would be a big bonus.
    Big Kev
    23rd Jan 2019
    Your existing home is exempt. Why tell them to sell it as it will become a large enough asset to exclude pension.
    25th Jan 2019
    Still too many of you asses wanting to judge and run other people’s finances for them what happened to minding your own and leaving other to theirs.disgusting discriminating humans all of you.
    19th Apr 2019
    Whats amazing is all these discussions about retirement the complications for people who aren't quite wealthy, but seem always to be "not sure" about the future , I know the feeling when balancing a part pension with all the stipulations you are supposed to follow with different incomes.
    In fact with pensions and different avenues of incomes for couples which you have to make as small as you can to get any help, leave you on the breadline just about, it is a strange system we have when hard working people for a lifetime have to be mathematicians and know every rule there is, or you get penalised, that is in a wealthy country like ours. Although our wealth will be slowly eaten away by stupid policies of the party that seems so sure of beating the current government. We have driven ourselves into a hole in Australia , whether its media nonsense and lies or that we really are in dire straights since the Rudd days , we'll be worse off down the track, it feels so uncertain, and it shouldn't

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