Centrelink Q&A: Part-time employment and the Age Pension

Eleanor is finding information about the Work Bonus confusing and wants some help understanding how it will apply to her and her husband.

Q. Eleanor
I have a question about the Age Pension and part-time employment. We are a married couple with a combined income of \$740 per fortnight (\$140 in deeming rates, the rest from my husband’s employment). As a married couple we are allowed a combined income of \$316 per fortnight, plus my husband is eligible for the \$300 Work Bonus.

What I am trying to establish is if the \$316 is deducted from the \$740 income as well as the \$300 Work Bonus (\$740-\$316 = \$424-\$300 = \$124), which would mean that our combined income is \$124 above what we are allowed, thus our pension would be reduced by \$62.

It is very confusing, and I can’t seem to get any answers from local Centrelink staff! They are just deducting his Work Bonus. But if that is the case, what is the point of the \$316 allowable income? I hope someone can shed some light on it, because it is driving me crazy trying to get answers.

A. The Work Bonus operates in addition to the pension income test free area.

The Work Bonus increases the amount an eligible pensioner can earn from work before it affects their pension rate. From 1 July 2019, the first \$300 of fortnightly income from work is not assessed and is not counted under the pension income test.

The Work Bonus only applies to individual pensioners and cannot be shared by a couple.

In your situation, your husband earns \$600 per fortnight from work income. Under the Work Bonus, the first \$300 of his income is not assessed. Your combined assessed income of \$440 is \$124 higher than the income test free area (\$316 a fortnight for a couple, as you have mentioned), which means that your combined pensions will be reduced by \$62 a fortnight (\$31 a fortnight each). Which is exactly as you have calculated it yourself.

Do you understand the Work Bonus? Have you ever had any issues regarding the Work Bonus? How were they resolved?

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Related articles:
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/news/tax-changes-for-older-workers
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/news/actuaries-back-super-fund-changes

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

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