Age pensioners to benefit from changes outlined in government white paper

Age pensioners and welfare recipients will be permitted to earn more before losing government benefits in a plan outlined by federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers.

The aim is to ease the nation’s skills and labour shortages.

The details were announced in the Employment White Paper and build on changes to the Age Pension Work Bonus that were announced after the 2022 jobs summit.

Work Bonus

The Work Bonus is designed to enable pensioners to earn a certain level of income – $300 per fortnight – without having their pension payments cut.

In addition, any unused portion of the $300 fortnightly amount can be deposited into a Work Bonus Income Bank to offset future income from work that would otherwise affect pension payments.

The maximum Work Bonus Income Bank amount that could be accrued had been $7800 per year. That changed in September 2022 when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that a bonus of $4000 would be credited to all Work Bonus accounts as an interim measure until 31 December 2023. That took the Work Bonus Income Bank maximum to $11,800.

That change has been locked in. From 1 January 2024, all Age Pension recipients, both new and existing, will have a starting Work Bonus bank balance of $4000, and the maximum balance will remain at $11,800 instead of reverting to $7800 as scheduled.

The change will cost $42.4 million over three years.

The government is seeking to draw on the 2.8 million people who want to work, or to work more hours than they do, so that “everyone who wants a job should be able to find one without searching for too long,” the white paper says.

Concessions to be extended

Another significant adjustment is the extension of concessions associated with welfare payments for those who find work. Previously, individuals who found jobs could retain their concessions for 12 weeks. That will be extended to 24 weeks.

Dr Chalmers says: “It is designed to address concerns that losing access to concession cards, childcare subsidies and other supplementary payments, or having to reapply and wait for income support if things don’t work out, acts as a discouragement to taking up work, particularly short-term, casual and gig economy work.”

The government plans to start the change on 1 July 2024 and anticipates it will benefit about 138,000 individuals annually at a cost of $42.8 million in the first three years.

While these changes have garnered support from some quarters, the Opposition has advocated for even more expansive measures, such as allowing the unemployed to earn an additional $150 per fortnight before their benefits are reduced. The government has, however, expressed reservations about the effectiveness of that proposal, citing that many JobSeeker payment recipients do not currently earn labour income.

The Employment White Paper also outlines several other policy decisions aimed at boosting workforce participation. These include exploring the idea of a national skills passport, a $40 million investment to expand TAFE training in areas such as emissions reductions, the care sector, and digitisation, and a commitment to increase Indigenous employment.

How do these strategies affect your desire to find part-time work? Are they a step in the right direction or is much more needed? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also read: More wealthy Aussies reaping benefits of super tax concessions

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


  1. I’m 72, got a casual 10 hours a week bookkeeping job with a small company, in Jan 2023, happy doing it but my boss knew that if the work bonus was not extended, I would have to knock it back to just 6 hours a week. He only said this morning ‘that’s one less thing for me to stress about’. I’ve brought in procedures, many written, that has allowed another full time worker to cut her hours in half (which she wanted). Many of my similar aged friends would love to work but face a closed door with many employers hugely discriminating against seniors. These same employers have signs up desperate for staff.

  2. Why don’t governments do something for people on disability how they treat people with cancer is shameful especially if a woman is older like I am 75 years my husband is 64 who hasn’t got much time left.To watch your love one go through fighting it is very very hard treat us with respect.Stop the pensions for politicians once they are out there out they get another job get paid for that job plus there pension so wrong.Seniors and pensions are put on the crap heap.So wrong

  3. How can anybody say “a cost of $42.8 million in the first three years “? We’re not asking for the pension to be increased – just simply asking to be allowed to keep what we rightfully earn. I can just sit around, doing nothing but wait for happy hour every day, and still get my pension. OR – I can go out and work where it is desperately needed, pay tax and spend the money in the local economy, and then lose my pension because I’m over the threshold meaning I’m effectively working for 50 cents in the dollar. Please tell me how that makes sense?🤪

  4. For our “Trainee Treasurer – Here’s an idea!!

    SAVE $42 million – Put it into education, low cost housing – or even GIVE IT TO PENSIONERS – as a “pay rise”!


    1. We then pay tax on what we earn,
    2. We are healthier
    3. We are motivated
    4. We are respected
    5. We bring life and work experience that doesn’t exist anywhere
    6. We can help the business make a profit
    7. We can pay for our own health insurance
    8. We can teach young staff life lessons and manners
    9. We have a reason to get up ecah morning
    10. We can spend money that we earn that we can’t at present


    • Peter,you sum up beautifully my feelings of frustration and futility with not being able while I can to pay off a credit card debt before I become not able to.
      NSW is desperate for casual teachers . I am in social housing, fit to work 3 days a week, willing to do it.
      However you can imagine the damage I do when the pay is $500 a day. For 3 days a fortnight teaching, I lose the entire pension,my rent is greatly increased each week and I then after a year have to payback the tax office upto $6000.00 at tax time. The way you desire the government to let us keep what we earn is the only solution if I increase my days the extra bonus would only take 4 weeks of work to finish the extra amount. A vow of poverty!!!

    • You have nailed it. The money we earned and saved towards our retirement has literally devalued over time. There was no $80-$100k jobs when I was working unless you were a top exec. I never earned over $35k my whole working life and I wasn’t allowed to join superannuation until I was 25, despite almost being due for Long Service Leave, why, because I was a woman and expected to leave the workforce to get married and have a family. Later in life I became a full-time carer for my Mum who had dementia and mobility issues, lived off my money for 18 months before getting a Carer’s Pension but then became very ill myself and ended up on a disability pension. The work restrictions are even worse for DSP recipients to the point it’s virtually not worth the bother financially because they take so much off the pension and monitor every hour you work. No incentive at all

    • Hi Peter – You are correct!
      Problem is the sheer ARROGANCE of our politicians of whatever political persuasion stick together like thieves and do not care about anyone on an Aged Pension.

      If only we could persuade the MEDIA channels to back us up instead of pushing Pensioners aside – how do we do that !!!

  5. Much as I appreciate the help that this could be to an OAP, it still just highlights their advantage over the situation of a SMR who may be not that far over the cut of threshold so misses out on the added benefits coming with the OAP.

  6. Im 68 and still working long hours. Not going to retire anytime soon. Why not the government gives some credit to old workers 🤔 like concessions card even though we are still employed full-time . As everyone knows medication cost plus doctor fees just for prescription. Maybe the government have to look after those in pension age but still in the work force. 🤔

  7. Will only affect the 3% of age pensioners who have a job, and I can’t see many more than that rejoining the paid work force. Many are doing valuable voluntary work and without them those organisations would struggle to keep going.

  8. It is about time the government looked at the idea of a UNIVERSAL PENSION. for pensioners and disabled persons. It would ease the workload on CENTRELINK who say they are working under pressure to meet all the needs of welfare recipients. The INCOME AND ASSETS test are a blot on all pensioners. Wake up Albo and your apprentice Treasurer.

  9. I agree Pensioners should be allowed to earn as much as we want
    Whether we pay tax or not
    Most pensioners would spend the money anyway
    Its only a few who rort the system and hog the money You can guess who
    not the average person in the street
    I’m 72 and 18 years ago I was told in an Interview that according to the interview I was not fit enough for the job
    So Basically for us older folk there is really no hope no matter what the employers and officials say

  10. Working whilst on an Aged Centrelink Pension means you pay more Income Tax !!!!

    I sincerely believe more retirees in their seventies plus would be ready to join the work force if only stupid politicians did not tax the pension portion of earnings. Only what is earned in the workforce should be taxed.

    The most disadvantaged Pensioners are those who no longer own their homes and have to pay exorbitant rent and are therefore forced to seek work other than trying to survive on the pension.

    Is it true that a single pensioner can earn up to $30,000 a year before having to pay Tax??

    Anyway, there is nothing worse than having a bunch of politicians who keep spruiking ideologies rather than practical solutions. Unfortunately, most of our current government ministers have grown up in a ‘union’ environment where there is no need for work experience if one located at the union head office.
    It is now time we EDUCATED ALL arrogant politicians to realize that WE the PEOPLE of AUSTRALIA pay their salaries etc and should they duck and dive when they have big budget blowouts, they must be held accountable and not play the blame game!!!!!!
    They should not be permitted to employ spin doctors to cover up for laziness and total arrogance.

  11. It’s alright for the people that are able to work they get extra money but what about the people that can’t work due to medical conditions. I for instance have a stuffed back and can’t bend twist or lift things because those things throw my back out, also because I cannot wear safety boots because of problems caused by type 2 diabetes so people like me have to struggle on while those who can work help push prices up.

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