Time to claim an Age Pension

John needs urgent financial assistance but is reluctant to approach Centrelink.

Time to claim an Age Pension
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John and his wife have found themselves in the unfortunate position of urgently needing financial assistance, but are reluctant to approach Centrelink.


Q. John
I need your advice to guide my wife and I, who are both over 70 years of age, through the complications of receiving an Age Pension and other government support.

Since June of this year my work as a consultant to small business has declined rapidly, to the extent that what meagre savings we had accumulated have virtually dried up.

We have no assets. Our liabilities include credit cards and store cards totalling about $40,000 and a car that is under a leasing finance arrangement. We currently rent an apartment. It is expensive, but we don’t have the financial means to set up more affordable accommodation, or even pay for removalists. Our next rent of $4,000 is due on 15 November.

We take full responsibility for finding ourselves in this awkward position – however the fact that my wife had to stop work over five years ago because of ill-health and a major operation, plus associated medical expenses, has not helped.

Neither of us are earning any income and we’re in desperate need of some assistance.

A. I'm sorry you have found yourself in an unfortunate position and that your past dealings with Centrelink has made you reticent to seek assistance.

Based on what you have said, you and your wife should both be entitled to the Age Pension and possibly rent assistance. You will, however, need to submit your full details to Centrelink for your claim to be properly assessed.

The Age Pension, as you are no doubt aware, is subject to an asset and income test, as well as residency requirements. Assuming you both meet the residency requirement, are earning below the income limits for a couple and have no assets as you say, then you should start the claim process as soon as possible. For your information, below are links to the current asset and income limits.

Asset test tables

Income test limits for pensions

If you're still earning an income, then the Work Bonus may mean that you are still entitled to claim an Age Pension. You can find out more by clicking the link below.

Will I be eligible for the work bonus?

In terms of rent assistance, there is certain criteria you must meet, which is basically that you must be receiving a government support payment and be paying private rent of a certain amount. You can find out more by visiting Centrelink at the link below.

www.humanservices.gov.au

I hope this gives you a brief outline, but you will need to contact Centrelink to progress your claim. You should call 13 2300 to make an appointment. Don’t forget to ask for a complete list of documents you should take so as not to hold up your claim.





    COMMENTS

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    Jurassicgeek
    5th Nov 2013
    10:17am
    John, get in there and claim your pension...Centrelink are sometimes a little cumbersome with their system but just stick with it and these days it is pretty quick and painless ..for me it took a cuppla weeks and I had my first payment...A lot will depend on income and assets so have some documentation to show them..It is sad to hear you have been living on your savings and you wont get any kisses and bouquets from centrelink for doing this...
    Abby
    5th Nov 2013
    10:51am
    Yes John
    I must agree the sooner you claim your entitlement you the sooner you will find yourself in a better situation
    Nan Norma
    5th Nov 2013
    10:52am
    John, you appear to have quite bit of debt that will be difficult to manage on a pension. I would also suggest you see a financial counsellor at Lifeline or someone like them. It is free. Get to centrelink has quickly as possible. All the best
    dougie
    5th Nov 2013
    11:24am
    John, Lodge your inquiry and even do it by telephone if you can. They may take a little time but it is well worth while. I have always found Centrelink staff in the latter years to be most understanding and easy to deal with.

    The old adage holds well "if you don't ask, you will never know."

    Like many of us John you have done the work - paid the taxes and it is now your turn to receive the benefits of your labours over the years.
    Pammie70
    5th Nov 2013
    11:34am
    JOHN i also found myself in a horrible situation similar to yours, due to the economy I had spent most of my savings. I am a single aged pensioner. My bank who I was have problems paying things suggested I go to see a*Financial Advisor* at the Salvation Army in your area. They were fantastic to me. They worked out a budget any bills that were urgent they rang the companies and set up payment plans. Companies listened to them. Swallow your pride John, somethings we just can't do on our own to fix things. Its taken me almost 1 year to pick myself up, but I was prepared for it because I knew that I had support on my side. If you feel you cant face them at this time give Centrelink a phone call (early in the mornings, waiting time isn't too bad) Make an appointment with the Salvo's by the way their services are FREE. Go together to the appointments if you can. I wish you all the best with it all. Just remember you have paid your taxes, by law they have to help you. I got a good deal from them, At least the stress has gone, and I don't lay awake all night wondering how to juggle things. Also take a good attitude and a lovely smile with you. I found out very quickly you don't get good service from anyone these days, unless you meet them half way. Good luck John and take the plunge and I will be watching your progress, keep us posted. Pammie
    Foxy
    5th Nov 2013
    1:23pm
    John - regarding your credit cards and store cards......they can be wiped almost immediately at no cost whatsoever to you (even if they are maxed out to the limit)....believe it or not - you actually have "age" on your side regarding these matters.

    You need to contact "MoneyHelpline" which is an Australian Government Dept. for people exactly like yourself and whom are in financial difficulty! The people there will give you the correct advice - they will put you in touch with someone in your area who will act as a mediator for you regarding your debts....it is entirely CONFIDENTIAL in case you have concerns about that. I think you will also find that they will tell you NOT to make one more payment on any credit or store card! Banks and Stores are not interested in chasing debts from people your age - ring "MoneyHelpline" it's all FREE- (have what you owe - and to whom - laid out in front of you) and get it sorted ASAP - else the stress will kill ya! :-)..........or just go Bankrupt! (ask them about that when you call also...although I'm pretty sure it will get sorted without that extreme! ) Don't be embarrassed - they are wonderful people and deal all day every day with folks in your position ... GOOD LUCK!
    Redhead
    5th Nov 2013
    2:19pm
    I am afraid that I don't agree with Foxy telling John to go Bankrupt, after all he has had all the goods and services that he charged on the cards. I do wonder why you didn't apply before now before spending all your savings.
    Foxy
    5th Nov 2013
    4:20pm
    ...I did say "going bankrupt would be extreme" - my point was if you read John's question at the start....basically what does he have to lose? He is renting - is in debt - leases a car - has no assets - nothing - so going bankrupt would free him of everything (and as you probably know there are many Sections/Parts of bankruptcy these days.) The people are in dire straits - what stands out to me however is the $4000 rent due in 10 days!! ? What happens there? Family/friends help or homeless? Awful !

    Centrelink and MoneyHelpline are of utmost urgency !!
    surfer
    5th Nov 2013
    4:49pm
    Dead Right Redhead. Foxy is wrong as usual. She should butt out. Fancy advising anyone to go bankrupt. She must come from the far left.
    Foxy
    5th Nov 2013
    5:33pm
    Surfer boyyyy - instead of "slagging" me yet again - why don't you come up with some constructive criticism and try to help people - you apparently know it all ??????????.......and don't mention me again on here ok? Just another "post" I have on file from you - you nasty cyber-bully!!!!!!!
    surfer
    6th Nov 2013
    7:25am
    FOXY Stop talking rubbish, I am giving constructive advice and not slagging you. You must have feelings sticking out all over the place. But I am not going to sit idly by while you advise poor people like John to go bankrupt. So pull your head in and stop insulting people. Do you have any brains left????????
    Foxy
    6th Nov 2013
    4:04pm
    ...another "nasty" post (above) for my "cyber-bully" file !
    Pardelope
    5th Nov 2013
    2:56pm
    From the first sentence in Debbie's answer, it would appear that John feels he has had a bad experience with Centrelink.

    Many moons ago, I worked in Centrelink, and I can tell you that it is a VERY stressful job (dealing with all types including druggies, nutters, cheats, and downright rude people). Unfortunately, staff at Centrelink are human and they do have "off" days like all of us, and sometimes they do find it hard to put the last difficult/rude customer out of their minds before they deal with the next person. Do not be put off by your past experience. They will normally treat you well - if you treat them well. If you feel you are being treated in an unprofessional manner, ask to talk to a supervisor. Remember, they are only allowed to do what the Government of the day has legislated.

    Phone Centrelink or go and visit them today. Ask for the application forms and complete them asap. Lodge the "claim form" immediatly - even if you don't have all the other information ready. The pensions are (probably still) backdated from the payday after the claim form is lodged. It may take some time for the decision to be made, but you would get an arrears lump sum back to that date.

    Make an appointment to see one of Centrelink's own financial advisors (bur do not delay lodging the claim form).
    genimi
    5th Nov 2013
    9:14pm
    thank you Pardelope! I too worked for Centrelink - and Social Security before that. I must admit that I grow tired of hearing people criticise the staff of Centrelink without knowing the stress they go through. I have worked with good and bad - just like any other industry/occupation.

    I do wonder why John has left it so long before doing anything about his situation - surely there were signposts along the way that action needed to be taken? if he has been in such dire straits for so long why wait until he cant afford a moving truck to get out of $1000 per week accomodation? For goodness sake swallow your pride, get off your bot and lodge a claim with Centrelink claims are dated from the date of lodgement so if it takes a couple of weeks you will get backpaid. Also, get to a financial counsellor and start sorting out your debts and your lifestyle - you have obviously been used to a lifestyle which is simply far beyond the means you can now expect.
    Janpeter
    5th Nov 2013
    4:35pm
    John,

    Ring Centrelink today and start your Age Pension claim immediately over the phone, this will date your claim from today, they will then send you a pre populated claim form for you to check and to complete and bring in together with your identification papers, bank a/c statements etc, to your local Centrelink office. When you bring these in, please tell the person you see that you and your wife are in hardship and ask that your claim be prioritized because of that.

    If you turned age pension age before 20/9/2009, have worked at least 960 hours each year since then, have not claimed a payment since this date, have not gifted assets or money, you may be entitled to a backdated registration into the Pension Bonus Scheme, meaning that you may be entitled to a tax free lump sum amount when you claim the age pension. Please ask about that when you ring.

    Centrelink does not have financial advisors so there is no one there who can give you advice, they do have financial information officers who you can discuss money matters with, to understand your options. They can also explain the Pension Bonus Scheme to you and your eligibility for the age pension, these folks are available on the phone, 132300.

    You will not eligible for the Work Bonus if you were working as a self employed consultant. The Work Bonus is only available to people working as employees, and what it is about is exempting an amount of your wage income each fortnight, it is not available to self employed people.

    Debbie means well, but gets most of her Centrelink stuff mixed up and unfortunately writes a lot of just plain wrong information in her answers, the part of her answers you can believe is the part that says, contact Cenntrelink and discuss your circumstances with them.

    If you are in financial diffuclty with debts then a financial counsellor may be able to help you.
    genimi
    5th Nov 2013
    9:16pm
    so do you, pension bonus scheme went out a long time ago
    Janpeter
    5th Nov 2013
    4:35pm
    John,

    Ring Centrelink today and start your Age Pension claim immediately over the phone, this will date your claim from today, they will then send you a pre populated claim form for you to check and to complete and bring in together with your identification papers, bank a/c statements etc, to your local Centrelink office. When you bring these in, please tell the person you see that you and your wife are in hardship and ask that your claim be prioritized because of that.

    If you turned age pension age before 20/9/2009, have worked at least 960 hours each year since then, have not claimed a payment since this date, have not gifted assets or money, you may be entitled to a backdated registration into the Pension Bonus Scheme, meaning that you may be entitled to a tax free lump sum amount when you claim the age pension. Please ask about that when you ring.

    Centrelink does not have financial advisors so there is no one there who can give you advice, they do have financial information officers who you can discuss money matters with, to understand your options. They can also explain the Pension Bonus Scheme to you and your eligibility for the age pension, these folks are available on the phone, 132300.

    You will not eligible for the Work Bonus if you were working as a self employed consultant. The Work Bonus is only available to people working as employees, and what it is about is exempting an amount of your wage income each fortnight, it is not available to self employed people.

    Debbie means well, but gets most of her Centrelink stuff mixed up and unfortunately writes a lot of just plain wrong information in her answers, the part of her answers you can believe is the part that says, contact Cenntrelink and discuss your circumstances with them.

    If you are in financial diffuclty with debts then a financial counsellor may be able to help you.
    Janpeter
    6th Nov 2013
    5:52am
    Genimi.

    You are wrong. On the 20/9/09, the Pension Bonus scheme closed for those turning age pension age after that date, and the Work Bonus was introduced for both Service Pensioners and Age Pensioners working as employees.The Pension Bonus Scheme still exists. There are many members of the scheme still working and accruing Pension Bonus Years. And those who turned Age Pension age before the 29/9/09 and have worked 960 hours per PBS year since then and are still working have until 1/1/15 to apply for a back dated registration to the scheme so their years of working since age pension age can be recognized. These folk need to prove to Centrelink that they have meet the PBS work test every PBS year since turning age pension age and to explain that the reason they have not registered before is that they have only just found out about the scheme, which is true as there is a lot of confusion in the community about these schemes a la this thread.

    Kind regards
    genimi
    6th Nov 2013
    10:18pm
    my apologies, they must have extended the registration date.
    Janpeter
    6th Nov 2013
    5:54am
    Correction to date in my last post, gremlins in computer this morning, effective date is 20/9/09 not 29/9/09 as inadvertently posted.apologies.
    gr82do
    7th Nov 2013
    2:45pm
    If my husband has a pension from state super, but I have no income of any sort and haven't had for 3 years, I'm 64, am I entitled to anything? We are still paying of our home.
    gr82do
    7th Nov 2013
    2:47pm
    Can you put and edit button on the comments? John I wish you luck. One you get over the mountain of paperwork, I think you will get a pension and life will be a lot easier.
    Pardelope
    12th Nov 2013
    4:25am
    You may be entitled to pension - depending on your combined income and assets - and other entitlement criteria. Even if you don't qualify for a full pension, it is worth getting the concessions.

    Ring CentreLink and ask for application forms for you and your husband to fill in. This is the only way you can be certain of your eligibility (or not) for a part or full pension.


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