When Services Australia considers your eligibility for a payment, most real estate you own is included in the assets test. That includes property you rent out, leave vacant, have as a holiday home or let someone live in free.
The only real estate we don’t include is your principal home, which we define as the home you live in, as well as the first two hectares of land it’s on.
We assess any real estate you own in addition to the exempt family home on the current market value, but we don’t count any mortgage amount that is secured against the property. So for example, if you own a holiday home worth $350,000, but have a mortgage secured against the holiday home for $200,000, then the assessable value of the asset is $150,000. However, if you used a mortgage secured against the family home to purchase the property, then the full value of the property will be assessed.
When you claim a payment, we’ll ask you to estimate the present market value of the property. We’ll also ask you to give us details of the property, such as whether it’s brick or timber, tiled or corrugated iron, how many bedrooms it has and so on. This information is used to help us confirm the valuation. We can also request an independent valuation of the property at no cost to you.
Over time, real estate values can change. With that in mind, we index the value of a residential property each year to keep it up to date. Sometimes we may need to arrange a valuation if we can’t index your property’s value that year. If the new valuation affects your rate of payment, we’ll let you know.
In most cases, you won’t have to pay anything back, but you may have to if you haven’t told Services Australia about significant upgrades that could affect your property’s value.
Of course, if you don’t agree with a valuation, you can ask for a review and we will arrange a formal valuation. This may require an independent professional property valuer assessing the property in person. Services Australia will organise that at no cost to you and the property valuer will arrange a time that is convenient for you to complete the valuation assessment.
myGov is changing
If you use myGov, you may have noticed it’s changing. While the homepage and layout may look a little different, many things are still the same. You don’t need to download anything, create a new account, change your password or set up your linked services again.
All your personal information remains safe and secure. Just sign in as you normally would to start accessing government services. You can also explore information on payments and services relevant to where you’re at in life.
These updates are the first step towards a simpler way to connect with government online services.
Is there any area of the Age Pension or other Centrelink benefits that you find difficult to understand? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
Hank Jongen is general manager at Services Australia.