How will a year-long trip hit my pension?

Marilyn is planning on travelling around Australia for 12 months but is worried about her pension.

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Q. Marilyn
My husband and I are thinking of renting out our home so we can travel in our caravan for 12 months. Both of us are on the Age Pension. We think we could earn $450 a week in rental income. How would this affect us? We have no investments and only a very small amount of superannuation left.

A. Centrelink uses two ‘tests’ to determine your eligibility for the Age Pension; the assets test assesses all your assets apart from your own home and the income test which assesses all sources of income including rental payments.

If you are temporarily absent from your principal home, it can still be considered an exempt asset for up to 12 months. Any longer than that, then you will have to have your home included in the assets test. This should be taken into account when you are signing a lease as most contracts run for 12 months.

You can return to your home and live there and resume travelling later and your 12 month period will be reset again if you resume travelling.

We have had a few inquiries as to how long you must return to your home before you can resume travelling and Services Australia has advised that as each person’s circumstances are different the best course of action is to contact a Centrelink financial services information officer for clarification.

If you decide to rent out your home while you’re travelling, you need to let Centrelink know straightaway as the rental income will be assessed under the income test. As long as your combined income remains below $3297.60 per fortnight, you will still be eligible for a part pension, but the amount of your pension payment will most likely be reduced somewhat, once you add in your additional income.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

Related articles:

Investment properties and pension
Which payment is best?
Will trip affect Age Pension?

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 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 Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Ben Hocking

Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.

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