Why must I reapply for my pension?

Chris did some part-time work and both his and his wife’s Age Pensions were cancelled. He is frustrated that he had to start the application process for both of them all over again.



Q. Chris
I’m 70 and I do seasonal casual/on-call contract work as a lookout during the fire season. My spouse and I both received the Age Pension. We reported all income to Centrelink when it was received and for the past six years, our pensions were either reduced or removed based on my income.

Last season was a particularly dangerous and long one with me working up to 10 hours a day for 13 days. I received a letter from Centrelink stating that I had exceeded the income limit for 12 weeks and that my spouse and I would no longer receive the Age Pension, and that we would both have to reapply.

When we spoke to Centrelink and explained the situation we were told that all we needed to do was notify them that our income stream (contract) had ceased and that they would reinstate the pensions. Centrelink has now advised us that we need to reapply in full, using their difficult-to-navigate online application process.

It has now been 12 weeks since we submitted the application and we still have not heard anything. We have had to live off our savings for that time.

The questions I would like answered are:

  • If Centrelink already has all my eligibility details, why did I have to reapply?
  • Why did my spouse lose her pension when she did not earn any income?
  • Why does Centrelink not have a process that can cater for seasonal workers like myself?
  • When I reapplied, my cash assets, as advised to Centrelink, were at a particular level. They are now reduced quite significantly due to the delay by Centrelink. Does Centrelink take this into account when assessing eligibility? If not, why not?

A. Centrelink requires you to reapply so that it can be sure it has all your up-to-date details and ensure that any new rules are applied. This is frustrating when you have already given the details, but it is simply the process it applies.

You and your spouse are assessed as a couple and therefore the couples’ asset and income thresholds are applied. When you exceed these thresholds, you both lose your Age Pension payments. A couple can earn up to $304 per fortnight combined and receive full Age Pensions. A part-Age Pension cuts out when a couple’s combined income hits $3040.40 per fortnight.

Centrelink applies the Work Bonus to your income, which allows you to earn $250 per fortnight before your Age Pension is affected or you can bank it to a maximum $6500 in a year. This is how Centrelink manages seasonal employment.

You can also update the value of your cash assets at any time by logging on to your Centrelink account.

If you have a Centrelink question, send it to [email protected] and we will do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.

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Financial 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.

Janelle Ward
Janelle Wardhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/janellewa
Energetic and skilled editor and writer with expert knowledge of retirement, retirement income, superannuation and retirement planning.
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