Retiring from the workforce

Can you get the Age Pension if you stop working before 65?

Retiring from the workforce

Lorraine is being forced to give up work, even though she’s not quite of Age Pension age and would like to know to her entitlements.

Q. Lorraine
I have finally retired from work at age 63, having worked all bar five years of my life. I was advised that, due to the stress of my lifestyle and job, I need to slow down. My husband is still working and he turns 63 in September. I am not using any of my superannuation as both of us started with very little and I want to keep this until we have both retired. I am also going to look into self-managed superannuation funds as our accountant advised us that we could do better than what we have currently. Can you please advise me if I am eligible for any government entitlements, such as a card which gives me a discount on public transport, etc.? I am loath to go to Centrelink without being armed with information.

A. As you are over 60 and not working full time, you should be entitled to a Seniors Card. These cards are distributed by state governments and as such, the eligibility criteria, concessions and discounts available do vary. You can find details of your nearest office and how to apply by clicking the link below.

In terms of Centrelink, you may be entitled to the Newstart Allowance. Although this is commonly granted to those looking for employment, as you are over 55, you can meet the work test requirements by volunteering the 15 hours per week needed to qualify. You can find out more by clicking the link below.

Also, I am unsure exactly who advised you to stop work, or for what reasons, but you may be entitled to claim a Disability Support Pension if you meet the requirements. You can find out more by clicking the link below.

I hope this gives you some basic information for you to work with, but any entitlements will depend on you meeting the eligibility criteria. You can make an appointment to speak to a Centrelink Financial Information Services Officer at any time on 13 2300.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    22nd Aug 2014
    Good luck trying to phone Centrelink, what a joke. I have been trying to phone them to make an appointment to see a financial advisor for months. The line is always engaged no matter when you try to phone them. If you are lucky enough to get your call answered, you basically get a recordered message and a 'computer' that doesn't know what the hell you are on about. It would make sense to be able to send them and email to book an appointment , but this feature doesn't appear to exist.
    24th Aug 2014
    Hi 41Alpha, You must ring them right on 8.00am. It is the best time and you only have a very short wait. Usually I have rung them, dealt with my issue and finished the call within 20 minutes on average. It really is the only time to ring. Good luck!
    22nd Aug 2014
    Centrelink are either hopelessly understaffed, or hopelessly inefficient, it's probably time for the government to consider privatising it.
    22nd Aug 2014
    As for 'Seniors Card' What a laugh. I live in Northern NSW and if you can find anyone to take Seniors Card it will be a miracle. Just look in the Northern NSW booklet that comes out and add the places where you can show it !!!!. Brumby's used to but they have closed down in our area
    22nd Aug 2014
    Totally agree with you - the seniors card in northern nsw especially where I live at Valla Beach is not worth a brass razoo - a complete waste of time and effort.
    1st Sep 2014
    Seniors card give very good discounts for movies....better than Health card!
    East of Toowoomba
    22nd Aug 2014
    Would she get a disability support pension when her husband is working? As she has Super available won't it also affect her eligiblity to receive a pension?
    22nd Aug 2014
    Why on earth would she be entitled to a Disability Support Pension ?? Herein lies the problem with this great country . She elected to retire , she was not forced and as far as I can tell she is not confined to a wheelchair . Talk about a welfare state .
    Rob B
    22nd Aug 2014
    My wife has permanent residence in Australia, living here permanently since 2009. She has never earned any income in Australia, is 67 years old, and after serious back operations has great difficulty getting around. Would she qualify for an aged pension?
    22nd Aug 2014
    It is indeed difficult to contact Centrelink by phone. The Financial Information Service officers also run regular seminars on topics of interest. The link to the seminars can be found in the Centrelink/Human Services website. At the seminars, they have handouts, and their business cards with phone numbers and email address, which makes it easier to contact them.
    Another good source of free information is NICRI (National Information Centre for retirement and investment). They are very knowledgeable and most important, independent.
    Judy in the hills
    22nd Aug 2014
    Try ringing first thing in the mornings .... my husband says he's never had much of a problem but always rings early.
    22nd Aug 2014
    I think Centrelink is really trying to encourage people to do their research and information gathering on line. If not computer savvy and personally calling into a Centrelink office is difficult, I have found sending a hand written letter to the manager of the nearest Centrlink office asking for advice on the best way to make an appointment, useful. Besides letter writing normally requires a response in most professional organisations. Telephoning is a waste of time.
    24th Aug 2014
    When life gives you lemons . . . Congratulations Lorraine. You are now eligible to join your local U3A (University of the Third Age). For a minimal annual membership you will be eligible to join any of their classes and interest groups. They are also a great place to volunteer and share your knowledge with other people. If you don't have a local U3A, start one. Any State U3A network will give you advice on how to do it. Good luck.
    25th Aug 2014
    I needed to take care of some Centrelink business for my elderly parents recently. After being frustrated by the busy tone or the incredibly long wait time on the phone I decided it was best to visit my local Centrelink.
    First thing on my agenda was to get the forms processed that allowed me to act on their behalf. Mum has dementia so dad has Power of Attorney therefore he had to sign on her behalf. After a reasonably short wait I saw a Customer Service person. She happily processed dad's form to enable me to act on his behalf. I then presented mum's form and explained that dad had signed on mum's behalf. Her response to this was that dad could no longer sign on mum's behalf because he had assigned me to act on his behalf. I argued that she couldn't possibly be correct because dad was the only one who had POA and therefore was the only person that could sign on her behalf. After consulting her supervisor she insisted that she was correct. In order for dad to sign on her behalf he needed to write a letter to revoke me acting on his behalf. Catch22! I left bewildered still convinced that this advice was incorrect. I decided I would endure the wait time on the phone to get a second opinion from Centrelink. They confirmed that the advice given was incorrect (BS). I asked them to contact the local Centrelink Office to confirm this but told me to tell them that Technical Support had advised me that they were wrong. Rather than antagonise the local Centrelink staff I decided to visit the next closest Centrelink. This time I'm happy to report that mum's form was processed no questions asked.
    The moral of the story is that when it comes to Centrelink there is no point in whinging you've just got to hang in there. In spite of this frustrating experience my more general experience is that if you can afford the time to visit the Centrelink Office then I find the staff very willing to help and it's so much easier to have a face-to-face conversation.
    9th Sep 2014
    My understanding of the pensions/welfare system is that if you have any assets, spouse income, etc you will not be eligible for any form of assistance, unless that is that you are permanently incapacitated in some way. Welfare is intended for those who have little or no assets and/or income. Their guideline are quite draconian and you would need very experienced and competent medical support to make any sort of claim.
    1st Oct 2014
    I am 65 in 10 weeks time. Centrelink now seem to have put my "newstart" payment 3 weeks apart. Is this the new way. I have written to them but I am sure I will never hear back. I volunteer at the Local Information Centre, will be teaching at U3A, am ambassador for Artists for Orphans, offer my services for fundraisers. But this latex thing of having to now wait 3 weeks for my Newstart payment is a bit scary. I can survive on $250 ish a week, but that is because I don't eat out, go out, shop anywhere other than op shops.
    1st Oct 2014
    Oh, and as for the Job Service Non-providers. What a joke that is. I apply for jobs regularly but the Job Service non-providers have NEVER actually sent me for a job interview.
    20th Nov 2016
    Please bear in mind if you do contact Centrelink by phone you may end up being referred to another person because the custom service officer may not be qualified to answer your question.Always best to visit a Centrelink office.It is very hard to access the disabilty pension.You will need a certificate from your doctor and you will need to do a medical assessment via Centrelink psychologist.Best of luck
    24th Nov 2016
    Ahh the joys of living in a large regional city. We have our own Centrelink office with short queues and the staff are great. Will diligently deal with your issue and pass on to the appropriate area for action. I have given up trying to ring - even at 8am - the phones are never answered. Apparently there has been a staff freeze so very short staffed. Cant understand why anyone would want to live in the city! :)

    I agree about the Seniors Card. Not much good to us country folk.

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