Centrelink Q&A: Can I apply early for the Age Pension?

Jenny has limited savings and is concerned about possible processing delays.

Can Jenny request pension early?

Jenny is concerned about how long it may take for her application for an Age Pension to be approved given recent reports that some people have experienced lengthy delays.


Q. Jenny
I have read alarming accounts of people applying for the Age Pension once they reach the appropriate age, but then having to wait for sometimes up to six months before they know whether they will be approved. Do I have to wait until I am 65 and eligible, or can I get the process started earlier? I don’t have much in terms of savings and I’m concerned that any delays will be particularly hard for me.

A. You can apply for an Age Pension 13 weeks before you reach pension age. If you are happy to submit an online claim, you must have a MyGov account linked to Centrelink. If you can’t claim online, you should print and complete the Claim for Age Pension and Pension Bonus form and the Income and Assets form, or call Centrelink on the Older Australians line, or go to a service centre.

You might also find this online video explanation helpful.

The Department of Human Services advises that it processes millions of claims every year and that it “works hard to do these as quickly as we can”. A spokesperson said: “The median Age Pension processing time was 49 days in 2017–18.

“The Government recently announced measures to boost workforce numbers by 2750 to improve call wait times and enhance service delivery.

“The nature of Age Pension claims has changed over time and are increasingly more complex. Nearly 60 per cent of rejected claims are because an applicant failed to respond to requests for additional information or documentation.”

If you are applying for an Age Pension and experiencing severe financial hardship, you should let the department know as soon as possible so it can prioritise your claim.

If you have a Centrelink question, send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.

Will you be one of the 70 per cent of Australians who receive an Age Pension or will you miss out? 


    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 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 financial and legal circumstances.


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    22nd Oct 2018
    If you have limited savings and no other income, you must let Centrelink know this. They used to issue a hardship payment if pension allocation was delayed. I am not aware if they still do this but hope they would.
    22nd Oct 2018
    I did the paperwork a little earlier as I knew it would be a trial. Over 30 pages and still they got it wrong but thankfully the person in the financial area eventually got the earlier decision overturned and it was all straightened out. Time taken in total 12 months
    22nd Oct 2018
    My suggestion is to go in to Centrelink well before the 13 weeks period, and ask them exactly what you need. There is no need to wait until the 13 week time frame to find out what is required - that is only the time frame TO apply. That is what I did. Yes it is lengthy, complicated and can be a bit daunting for many seniors.
    First of all - set up your MyGov account - well beforehand.
    Mine was a little bit complicated, but I got a thorough list of what I needed. So the very day I could apply - I did. Within 4 days, they contacted me saying they needed more info on one detail - was supplied that day.
    I was notified my Pension was accepted 8 weeks later. I have also assisted 2 other people (non computer literate people, 1 of whom I am the nominated Centrelink contact), and both were accepted within 8 weeks also.

    22nd Oct 2018
    If Jenny is not 65 now she will have to wait longer for the pension at any rate. First check your eligibility date and then apply 13 weeks ahead of the time. A lot of delays are caused by incomplete applications like missing documents. I worked in different countries in my younger years and I had to list them all and I still had no wait time when I got to 65. Mind you they might have less staff now to process everything. With computerization it should have gone speedier not slower.

    22nd Oct 2018
    At least six months in advance unless you have plenty to get by on.... you can always run down your accumulated assets in keeping with the policy fart of the leaners in the LNP - who think you should have nothing in return for a lifetime of effort and often self-sacrifice....

    We're gonna need a row of bigger guillotines...

    Of course, if you put in the paperwork six months in advance, the Good Colonel C'Link will tell you that it's too early to process - and then when time comes due -they'll tell you to re-submit anyway.

    The privilege of being judge, jury and executioner of the unemployed, the frail and the aged.... put them all on the trains to the new territories for re-settlement... you don;t think Centrelink is there to provide a service, do you? They hold the 'power' of dollars!
    22nd Oct 2018
    Like the row of guillotines - but it would be cheaper the Iranian way. Building crane with a crossbeam with 12 nooses hanging from it. Saw that done in Tehran on TV, very effective in focusing on jobs for future politicians.
    22nd Oct 2018
    Re the new 'workers' actually goi g to be Centrelink workers or just another group of call centre employees?
    22nd Oct 2018
    Don’t count on Centrelink to contact you if they haven’t got everything they want- or in the form they want; don’t expect to be clear on exactly what they want when they ask for more information; there is some information (eg names of banks and account numbers that they won’t accept in handwriting (I don’t know if this is written in their rules); and don’t send any documents to them via snail mail, despite their directions stating this is an acceptable way to supply them, they won’t reach them, and when you finally contact C’link to ask where the process is up to, they will laugh (sympathetically) when you say you posted the docs, because apparently these never arrive. Good luck - we applied in April 2018 and as far from being accepted as we ever have been I think.
    22nd Oct 2018
    Thank heavens I turned 65 three years ago. It was a relatively simple process then, and I did it all online from memory, and in the week I turned 65 or a few days later I received my age pension payments. Mind you, I had been in the system on Newstart for a few years, so perhaps that made it easier.
    22nd Oct 2018
    Newstart would have been a help for sure, I was on a low income health care card with
    a lot of information on it - but then with all the info required from overseas doing on line was not a good option as I had to have all kinds of documents. My case was 5 years ago and relatively easy, started to gather all these mentioned documents at 64 years of age. Since then occasionally I had my card cancelled when going overseas and immediately supplied with a new one upon return. I think they stopped that now.
    Karl Marx
    22nd Oct 2018
    I would suggest that anyone coming up for retirement within 12 months to start going to the seminars that centrelink hold. These are free and a wealth of information & you can ask as many questions as you want. You can also attend as many seminars as you want, just book online.
    22nd Oct 2018
    A pension is not welfare.

    Now is the season for discontent, so do something about it!
    It is time to kill off this insane hugely expensive pensioner whacking bureaucracy.

    It is time for all of us (yes that means you) to rant at our MPs and Senators daily to take action for human decency and a huge stress reduction for pensioners

    A pension is not welfare.

    Most economist say we will save taxpayers money by dropping asset testing because of the massive overheads cost in running Centrelink and the 10,000 conflicting rules.

    Hiring more Centrelink staff will only increase taxpayer’s costs for processing the creeping insane red tape monster system politicians and well paid bureaucrats have created.

    Help scrap it now. Become a hero.

    Even poorer New Zealand has a NO ASSET pension so it is cheaper and user friendly.

    Why worry that few million$ earners get it too. That is peanuts to them, not enough for a good vintage champagne.

    Do retired and retiring people really look forward and want 100++ visits to/from Centrelink and be part of 3 million waiting queues and lost calls?
    23rd Oct 2018
    Absolutely. Better still, Universal Pension. All need to get off their backsides and write to their MPs with threats to throw them out if they don't listen. No one deserves to deal with this monstrous Govt Dept after working for decades paying taxes.
    28th Oct 2018
    I agree they can save a lot of money, complications and stress, if they just go for the basic income for all. The system is broke and they need a better system.
    22nd Oct 2018
    Already being on the DSP, hopefully the application process would be much smoother for me.

    I remember when I transferred from the Single Parent Payment to the DSP it was a complete (64 pages) application, including the Treating Doctor's Report/s. Most of the information they wanted they already had on the system, AND I still needed to do the 100 points check, even though I was already on a payment.

    23rd Oct 2018
    The response ignores the part of the question "Do I have to wait until I am 65.....", as if you are still not 65, you will not get it a that age, as currently the age is being increased to 67.

    All must fight for Universal Pension - at Age 65 and if at least 15 years Residency, and scrap this need to deal with this under-staffed monstrous Govt Dept. Write to your MPs, and vote them out if they don't listen.
    28th Oct 2018
    It depends on your birth year, some can still get at 65. Not sure what year it starts at 67, I know I have to wait until 67.
    28th Oct 2018
    Here's the birthdates and ages you can apply:

    If you were born between You qualify for age pension at age
    1 July 1952 to 31 December 1953 65 years and six months
    (you are eligible from 1 Jan 2017 to 30 June 2019)
    1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955 66 years
    (you are eligible from 1 Jan 2020 to 30 June 2021)
    1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956 66 years and six months
    (you are eligible from 1 Jan 2022 to 30 June 2023)
    From 1 January 1957 67 years (you are eligible from 1 Jan 2024)
    28th Oct 2018
    Thanks for posting the details SuziJ, very helpful.
    28th Oct 2018
    They make it hard because they do not want you on a pension, and also because they want to sell off centrelink.

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