Disabled pensioner fearful

Gina received a compensation payment after successfully taking legal action for child abuse. She wants to know how that will affect her disability pension.

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Q. Gina
In 2016, I was effectively deemed disabled due to abuse as a child by a priest. I took legal action and was awarded about $300,000. This did not affect my disability pension. I then built a house but found the costs were too great and recently sold it for $250,000. I bought a cheaper house for $155,000 but it needs renovating. I was left with about $85,000 and then repaid debts of about $20,000. Am I allowed to have about $65,000? I need at least $20,000 to renovate and for medical needs. I see a psychiatrist and that costs $365 per hour. I get about a $120 rebate but that’s still expensive. Will they take my pension off me? I am very anxious about this.

A: Without knowing your full circumstances, we can offer the following general information.

Your pension eligibility is assessed under the income and asset tests and you are paid under the rules of the test which delivers the lowest payment. For example, if under the asset test you would receive $600 and under the income test you would receive $595, you will be paid under the income test.

A single homeowner can have total assets of $258,500 before the pension is affected – the home is excluded from this. Assets above this will result in your pension being reduced by $3 for every $1000 you exceed the threshold.

Under the income test, you can receive $172 per fortnight before your pension is affected. This income includes money from investments, but not your Disability Support Pension payment. If you exceed this amount, your pension is reduced by 50 cents for every $1 over the $172.

Before making any financial decision, you should seek qualified advice. You may also wish to speak to a Centrelink Financial Information Service officer.

If you have a Centrelink question, send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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