How to maximise Age Pension

Carley* will be of Age Pension age in February but is already thinking how the couple’s finances can be sorted to gain the biggest pension payment possible. She asks personal finance specialist Noel Whittaker for help with the numbers.


Q. Carley
I am 65 and about to apply for the Age Pension, so that I can receive it next February when I turn 66. My husband is 63 and will reach Age Pension age in March 2022. We are both now retired and living off my husband’s superannuation. My superannuation is already used up.

We have paid off our small unit (our home) and our caravan and two cars. We have no debts.  That is all we own. My husband’s super is $380,000 at present.

 We will need around $80,000 this year to do some renovations on the unit and buy a new car (mine is 20 years old), so that would leave around $300,000 in my husband’s super when I apply for the pension.

We are currently receiving an income stream of $2000 per fortnight and we will like to stay on this amount. I want to receive as much as possible from the Age Pension.

Should I reduce the amount to $1000 per fortnight and withdraw the other $26,000 in a lump sum each year (to make up the current yearly figure in cash and keep it under the mattress to pay the bills when they arrive? This way under the income test, I would receive more each fortnight.


We don’t have private health cover but are both in good health and expect (hope) to live to around 85 years.

It is hard to know what to do and any guidance would be appreciated. Thank you.

A. The major issue appears to be whether your husband’s superannuation is in accumulation mode or pension mode. If it’s in pension mode, it will be fully assessed by Centrelink; if it’s in accumulation mode it will not be assessed until he reaches pensionable age. I suggest you take advice and have someone do the numbers to ensure you are maximising your position. It would appear you are more likely to be asset tested than income tested.

Do you have a question for Noel? Send it to [email protected] and put Noel Whittaker in the subject field.

* Not her real name.

Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. His advice is general in nature, and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions.

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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.

Noel Whittaker
Noel Whittaker
International bestselling author, finance and investment expert, radio broadcaster, newspaper columnist and public speaker, Noel Whittaker is one of the world’s foremost authorities on personal finance. He is currently an Adjunct Professor and Executive-in-Residence with the Queensland University of Technology, as well as a committee member advising the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.
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