End of year help for age pensioners

This year has been challenging for age pensioners and retirees, and the help provided by the federal and state governments in the form of coronavirus supplements and other measures has been very well received and, in many cases, absolutely necessary.

With December comes the end or scaling back of some supplements or, for the luckier ones, extra cash instalments in eligible recipients’ accounts. With December also comes Services Australia office closures and changes to reporting and payment dates. After all, our Centrelink and Services Australia workers have had a tough year, too, and deserve some time off!

YourLifeChoices asked Services Australia boss Hank Jongen how Services Australia plans to support older Australians through the summer. Here’s what he had to say.

December can be a busy time and with everything 2020 has thrown at us, this holiday period may be particularly challenging.

Here are some of the ways Services Australia can help support you over this time.

Economic Support Payment
As announced in the October Budget, we’ll be paying a further Economic Support Payment of $250. This is for people who received payments including Age Pension, Carer Payment and Disability Support Pension on 27 November 2020. If you were on any eligible payment on that date, you’ll get the $250 in your bank account in December. The full list of eligible payments can be found on our website.

The good news is this will be paid automatically, so you don’t need to do anything to receive it.

Work Bonus
Although this is a year like no other, some age pensioners may still do temporary jobs in December, like helping in a local shop or even being the Mr or Mrs Claus at your local shopping centre. With our Work Bonus, it’s possible that your extra income doesn’t have any impact on your rate of Age Pension at all.

The Work Bonus reduces the impact of income from wages or from self-employment on your pension. It only applies to income that has come from your own active participation, not to investment income like dividends or rent.

With the Work Bonus, we don’t count the first $300 a fortnight of your earned income. So, if you’ve earned $400 in the fortnight, only $100 would be included as assessable income.

On top of that, every fortnight you didn’t earn an income from wages or self-employment, that $300 is set aside and continues to build up until it reaches a maximum Work Bonus Balance of $7800. What this means is that if you do some work in the future, that income goes against your Work Bonus Balance first. The great thing about that is your pension will not be affected until that balance is all used up.

So, if you tell us you’ve earned some money over December, don’t be surprised if your rate of Age Pension doesn’t change.

Are you happy with the support governments have provided this year? Do you have a question for Mr Jongen? Why not send it to [email protected] and we’ll try to get you an answer?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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