Centrelink Q&A: When can I apply for the Age Pension?

Apply for the Age Pension

A YourLifeChoices reader nearing the end of her working life wants to know the best time to apply for the Age Pension.

Q. Claire

I am approaching retirement and after years of casual work, I do not have a lot in the way of superannuation or assets (I rent). I have heard some horror stories about how difficult it is to apply for the Age Pension. Can I apply before I am eligible, or do I have to wait until my birthday? Some friends waited until their birthday and then had to wait months for approval.


A. Claire, your friends are right, it can take months of waiting to be approved for the Age Pension, so you are best to get started as soon as you can.

Thankfully, Services Australia recognises this delay and allows people to apply up to 13 weeks before you reach Age Pension age.

To approve your claim, Centrelink will want evidence of your age, as well as your bank account details, tax file number, residency status, relationship status, and income and assets. For those last two, to be approved for the Age Pension, Centrelink make you jump two major hurdles, the income and assets tests. These two requirements are the major eligibility requirements for the Age Pension, so it’s important to provide the correct documentation.

Not surprisingly, with those requirements you will need a lot of documents to support your claim.

The amount of documentation required is long, but you can find all the details on the Services Australia website here and here.

Once you have successfully submitted all the paperwork, it doesn’t stop there. If Centrelink needs more information it will contact you via your myGov inbox or by letter. Your claim will be on hold until Centrelink is satisfied you have provided the correct information.

And be smart about it. If you don’t supply the requested information within 14 days and can’t provide a reasonable excuse for the delay, Centrelink may reject your claim outright and you will have to start again.

Back pay

If you lodge a claim after you are eligible, Centrelink will not back pay to your birthday, but only to your lodgement date.

If you don’t believe you would be eligible for the Age Pension or part pension, it still may be worth applying for the Commonwealth Senior Health Card. Cardholders are eligible for cheaper healthcare and other concessions.

Find out if you are eligible and how to apply here.

If you are already receiving payments from Centrelink, they will write to you 13 weeks before you reach Age Pension age. The letter will outline what you need to do to transfer to the Age Pension.

You can apply for the Age Pension via your myGov account and link it to Centrelink. If you do not have one, you can apply here.

If you can’t claim online you can make an appointment with your nearest Centrelink office, print and complete the Claim for Age Pension form and the Income and Assets form or call Centrelink on the Older Australians line.

Find your nearest Centrelink service centre or mobile service here.

Have you applied for the Age Pension lately? How long did it take? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Centrelink Q&A: Can I give my son money and still keep my payments?

Written by Jan Fisher

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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