Centrelink Q&A: does my wife have to apply for the Age Pension separately?

A YourLifeChoices reader already on Age Pension payments wants to know in more detail about when his wife applies. 


Q. Paul

I’m on a part Age Pension and have been for some seven-plus years and it is based on half the joint pension. 

I am 72, my wife turns 67 this year. My pension is asset means tested and includes my wife’s account and our joint accounts. She has no super and no income. While I have a myGov account, she does not. On my pension card her name is shown in small letters with a CRN.

My query is: does she have to apply for the Age Pension or is it just calculated automatically as Centrelink has all our financial details anyway? 

Do they write to us 13 weeks before her birthday when she turns 67 and is eligible for the Age Pension?

A. Despite Paul being on the Age Pension already and the fact that he and his wife will be paid as a couple if she is approved, his wife will still have to apply separately. 

This is because, while in this case she seems to have no superannuation, until the younger member reaches pension age, their super is not counted as an asset under the Age Pension assets test. Centrelink uses the assets test and income test to work out if you are eligible for the Age Pension and how much you are entitled to. So Centrelink will want to know of any assets or income she has, or has not, in her own name.

The CRN on Paul’s pension card denotes the customer reference number, and means his wife already has a Centrelink account, which should make it easier to apply as they will already have some of her details on record. She will also need a CRN to link her Centrelink number to a myGov account and update or record any information.

When you can apply

Centrelink will only contact you 13 weeks before you are eligible for the Age Pension if you are on another Centrelink payment. This will be to offer you the choice to stay on your current payment or transfer to the Age Pension. 

However, if you are not receiving any Centrelink payments, you can still apply 13 weeks before you become eligible. It’s a good idea to start well before then, as the paperwork can be quite onerous. You will have to supply evidence to prove your age, your bank account details, residency status, and usually most difficult, evidence of your income and assets. 

There is currently a backlog of applications, so it could take longer than the advised 13 weeks. If you are not approved on your birthday, Centrelink will backdate any payments to your birthday when you are approved. 

Find out more about how to apply here.

Have you recently applied for a Centrelink payment? How long did you have to wait? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Centrelink Q&A: how would shared housing affect the Age Pension?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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