Age Pension payments rise today, as advocates blast loss of purchasing power

The biannual indexing of Centrelink benefits take effect from today, with the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension (DSP) and Carer Payments all increasing by $37.50 a fortnight for singles and $56.40 a fortnight for couples.

That takes the maximum fortnightly pension payment, including the pension and energy supplements, to $1064 for singles and $1604 or couples.

It’s a 3.7 per cent increase and follows a 4 per cent rise last September. While no-one is saying an extra $18.75 per week is not welcome, inflation is running at 7.8 per cent – higher than in September last year and despite 10 successive cash rate increases by the Reserve Bank.

The cost of many grocery basics over the past year has soared. Prices at Woolworths and Coles climbed higher in the December quarter, to an average of 9.2 per cent, compared with an  average of 8.2 per cent in the September quarter, according to research by UBS.

And unfortunately, price tracking found that inflation was steepest in the fresh food category, led by dairy and meat. Fresh food inflation was running at 9.6 per cent in the December quarter and dry grocery items at 9 per cent.

Which means an extra $18.75 a week has to be carefully spent – especially when skyrocketing energy prices and increases to private health funds are added into the budget.

That catchphrase, dignity in retirement, is a dream for too many.

What would help – apart from a significant boost to the base rate of the Age Pension, and other payments? Four indexing reviews per year instead of two.

Advocates lobby for change

The problem is that twice-yearly reviews never allow pensioners to catch up, pensioner advocates say.

Paul Versteege, policy manager for the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA), says indexation responds retroactively to the economic climate. Today’s increases compensate pensioners for cost-of-living increases between July and December last year. They provide no buffer for the increases that have already occurred this year.

He says: “People on just the pension have had to deal with a significant loss in their pension’s purchasing power, which we estimate at between $300 and $375 from 1 July 2022 to March 2023.”

National Seniors chief advocate Ian Henschke says the twice-yearly indexation is a game of catch-up.

He says it’s critical during times of high inflation that the pension be adjusted four times a year instead of two.

“For pensioners struggling to cover necessities such as food, fuel and electricity, how often is as important as how much.”

Both the CPSA and National Seniors are lobbying the government to not just increase indexation amounts, but to also increase indexation frequency.

Rent Allowance ‘out of sync’

The CPSA is also calling on the government to review the Rent Allowance, which Mr Versteege says is “out of sync in a big way with actual rents”.

Rental assistance will go up by $5.60 to $157.20 per fortnight for a single person with no children and up $5.20 to $148 for a couple with no children.

Median rent prices in capital cities across Australia in December 2022 ranged from $460 in Melbourne to $670 in Canberra, according to Mozo. The average was $520 and represented an 8.3 per cent increase compared with December 2021.

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia chief executive Patricia Sparrow says small increases to the pension simply aren’t enough for many people.

“Every little bit helps, but we need to be looking at how we can support older Australians better,” she says.

Disqualifying limits

Asset and income disqualifying limits also change from today. The Age Pension will cut out when assets reach $634,750 for a single homeowner, $859,250 for a non-homeowner (increase $12,500); couple combined homeowner $954,000, non-homeowner $1,178,000 (increase $19,000).

Income disqualifying limits increase by $75 per fortnight for a single person to $2318, and by $112.80 per fortnight to $3544 for a couple combined.

Big lift in Jobseeker sought

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says the indexation increases don’t address the inadequacy of income support, especially for anyone on JobSeeker.

The JobSeeker rate is increasing by $1.77 a day for people under 60, from about $47.75 to $49.50 a day.

This is 57 per cent below the minimum wage and 34 per cent below the Age Pension.

ACOSS acting chief executive Edwina MacDonald told the ABC she wants the government to raise JobSeeker payments to the same level as the Age Pension amid rising inflation.

In case you were wondering, the hotly debated superannuation tax concessions cost the Federal Budget $52 billion a year and the Age Pension costs $55 billion annually.

Can you see the federal government ever agreeing to four pension reviews per year – at least during times of high inflation? Do you have to budget carefully? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

Also read: Age Pension payment rates: 20 March 2023 to 19 September 2023

Janelle Ward
Janelle Ward
Energetic and skilled editor and writer with expert knowledge of retirement, retirement income, superannuation and retirement planning.


  1. if u want to treat pensoners fairly then start off with hand outs when the virus started
    The govt were paying people on the dole between $200 and #$400 /fn more than aged /disabled and carers THEY also received more than $5000 in bonuses than the aged/disabled and carers and looking into it i found that the govt would not even discuss treating us equal.$THEgovt gives a whopping $ 37.50 increase which hardly covers the electricity and gas increases
    I also point out that all increases the govt gets %10 off.GST
    i might also point out shopping has increased more than %20 in the last 12 months so whatever the govt says about true inflation is a lie .
    i have seen certain items go up over %100 since the govt allowed this virus into the country’
    Personly i think the govt could not care ledss about the elderly as this virus mainly kills the elderly and it is a pension saver for them

  2. It will do nothing for us.
    Our rent just increased by $50 per week and we are currently paying 55% of our pension on rent so we get $6-7 to cover the increases in power, foodstuffs and anything else plus cover all the increases from the past six months., Whoopee!

  3. Yes these are very difficult times, most of us are finding it hard to stretch the dollar a little further, I know I am. Fruit, veg, meat, absolutely outlandish prices and just about a luxury these days. However, any increase in the pension should be gratefully accepted and not whinged about. If you feel $2 or $3 a day is an insult, simple don’t accept it. If enough people do that, then others who do appreciate things, will get a pretty decent increase. Anyone whinging about rent subsidies (which I don’t believe should be paid in the first place, taxpayers have got enough problems without supporting strangers) should take a good hard look at themselves. All should plan for their future, pensioners of 65 and over should own their own homes and if they are renting and can’t afford the rent, MOVE. If your living in a blue chip suburb move to an outer suburb, if you can’t afford that move to a country town and so on until you find an appropriate place that you can afford. Live within your means. The old adage, The World Doesn’t Owe You A Living. I believe the Government’s of the day can do a hell of a lot better regarding Health. This is where money should be spent, not on increasing the jobseeker allowance, as there are thousands of jobs up for grabs that nobody wants, so why would you pay people more money to sit on their asses. I think the Government does ok attempting to keep the price of medicines down, however ALL Doctors Surgeries should be required to bulk bill a very minimum of 25% of their patients and Specialists, especially Specialists the same. And we won’t even begin to start on the underfunding of Hospitals and absolute disgrace. Bottom line is, be grateful for what you have, your health is the main thing and it gradually deteriorates from there. Jacka.

  4. We paid taxes all our lives and years ago a portion of those taxes went toward our pensions during the 80s that money which was in the millions was put into general revenue, that tax still happens to people today although never declared by any of our Governments so they are doing us any favours for our pensions we well and truly paid for it.
    The pension should be revised every 3 months as most of us are struggling to survive after working all our lives.
    Politicians should be made to live on a pension for a few months and see how they survive.
    As for Airbus Albanese, he should never receive the huge pension as he hasn’t earned it instead his Government have almost sent Australia into recession.

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