How long does it take to process Age Pension applications?

How long will it take for my Age Pension application to be processed?

How long does it take to process Age Pension applications?

How long does it take to process Age Pension applications?
You would be surprised by how often we get this question and, unfortunately, there is no fixed answer. We have certainly heard cases where people have waited eight months or more before they have had their pension processed. There have also been cases at the other end of the spectrum where people have had their application assessed within weeks.

The Department of Human Services says that the median time to process an Age Pension application is usually 49 days.

We asked the Department of Human Services for a guide on what it believed to be acceptable for successfully concluded applications and queries.

A spokesperson said: “The Department of Human Services processes millions of claims every year and we work hard to do these as quickly as we can.

“The Government recently announced measures to boost workforce numbers by 2750 to improve call wait times and enhance service delivery.

“The nature of Age Pension claims has changed over time and are increasingly more complex. Nearly 60 per cent of rejected claims are because an applicant failed to respond to requests for additional information or documentation.

“People experiencing severe financial hardship should let the department know as soon as possible so we can prioritise their claim.”

There are some things that you can do to try and make the process as quick as possible, however. Firstly, you should make sure that you meet the basic eligibility criteria. To be eligible for the Age Pension you must be at least 65 years old, meet the income and asset tests, be living in Australia, normally, for a minimum of 10 years.

Case Study
Colin and Theresa have both reached retirement age. They provide their tax returns and bank and financial statements to Centrelink for assessment. Their combined assets are worth $200,000 and their joint income is $45,000 a year. Their assets are modest, so these don’t affect their pension. However, as their joint income exceeds the minimum threshold, they will only receive a part pension.

When can I first apply for the Age Pension?
Importantly, if you would like your application processed quickly, you can register your intent to apply for the Age Pension 13 weeks before you reach eligibility age. You don’t need all the required documentation to get the application process started. You can register your intent to apply just by providing some very basic details.

How do I apply?
You can apply via the Centrelink website, over the phone (call 132 300) or in person at your local Centrelink office. Once your application is in the system you can track its progress online.

You can complete your Age Pension claim online here or by using self-service terminals at your local Centrelink service centre.

If you do not receive any Centrelink payments and never have, you can submit your claim up to 13 weeks before reaching Age Pension age. How long it takes to assess your claim depends on its complexity and the availability of supporting documents.

If you are receiving an income support payment, you can expect to get a letter from Centrelink nine weeks before you reach eligibility age, inviting you to transfer to the Age Pension. You can do this online.

You can start your claim without having all necessary documents. However, to reduce delays you should ensure you submit all required documents within 14 days of starting your claim. This includes submitting the online claim, and any other documents requested. It’s easy to know what documents are required – a checklist is provided after the questions are answered online.

Retrospective payment of the Age Pension is limited to the date when the application is accepted as complete. It is no longer assessed as the date when notification of intent is lodged for the first time. The legislation relating to this changed on 31 July 2018.

Age Pension Application Process

What if this is your first time dealing with Centrelink?
If you haven’t been a Centrelink customer before, you’ll need to apply for a Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN) and an online account before you can start your claim. You will need to visit a Centrelink customer service centre to prove your identity and be issued with a CRN. Once you have a CRN, you can create a Centrelink online account.

You will need to link your Centrelink account to your myGov account, which you should have already if you have submitted a tax return online or have had dealings with Medicare. If you don't have a myGov account, you can create one by visiting the mygov site.

The online claim system means you can claim at a time and place that suits you. It also features a claim tracker, which enables you to track the progress of your claim through your Centrelink online account or Express Plus mobile app.

Anyone who has difficulty with the online claim form can ask for help. Staff are available in service centres and over the phone on the Older Australians line – 13 2300 – to guide claimants through the process.

It’s also important to note the ongoing changes to the pension eligibility age.

People who were born on or after 1 July, 1952, will need to be aged 65 years and six months before being eligible, and the pension age will then go up by six months every two years until 1 July, 2023, when the Age Pension eligibility age will be 67.

Date of Birth

Qualifying age at

1 July 1952 to 31 December 1953

65 years and 6 months

1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955

66 years

1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956

66 years and 6 months

From 1 January 1957

67 years



    To make a comment, please register or login

    10th May 2019
    I found it quite simple, followed all the guide lines like applying 13 weeks ahead of time which gave me sufficient time to call in all the extra info Centrelink required from me. Was a bit more involved as I was born in a Social Agreement country and C/L wanted to know first how much I would get from them before working out my rate. Had to turn up with additional information 3 times but have had no problems with them since. I am a part pensioner.
    10th May 2019
    I helped a friend. We did it all on line but she had to still go into an Office to have her identity verified. Applied 13 weeks ahead and she was paid correctly and on time. They have picked up a bit in the last six months
    The wolf
    10th May 2019
    In 2015 with all correct documents, it took 2 dayd

    10th May 2019
    I have a friend who left his application to the last minute and, although he was back paid all to which he was entitled, the application took about 8 months. A lot of that time was because Centrelink lost some of his documentation. Because of that I applied about 3 months in advance and all went smoothly. There will be stories similar to mine as well as stories similar to my friend so maybe it's the luck of the draw.
    10th May 2019
    OldMan, you are on the pension? I thought you said you were not or did I surmise that from your comments.
    jug head
    10th May 2019
    if i start my application for A.O.P. now it should be ready for me when i retire in 5 yrs time
    11th May 2019
    Unfortunately, can only start application 13 weeks before becoming elligibile. When applying through the Mygov site, you cannot start to apply even one day before your elligibile date. Found that out personally. By the time you are elligibile, a warning - you better have plenty of money hidden under the bed to live on whilst they process your application. Yes you will get backpay, but that doesn't pay the bills while waiting.
    10th May 2019
    I put my application in 6 weeks ahead of time and I had all the documentation they needed. They gave me an estimate of when it would be done and when it wasn't done by that date, I visited Centrelink a few days later and a note was put on my application. It was approved later the same day.
    10th May 2019
    Obtained the required application form and ensured I gathered all the documentation stated in said form. Completed the form and delivered it to Centrelink exactly 13 weeks ahead of my pension due date, and the payment was in my bank account on that very day. Very impressed!
    10th May 2019
    All in all good outcomes, so if we do the right thing we do not have problems with Centrelink it seems. Only hiccup I had when we moved house when they could not immediately find my letter about selling my previous house and buying a retirement villa. They thought I still had the house but that was quickly sorted out as they found my notice. So a good outcome on this page for C/Link.