Older Australians will benefit from Federal Budget 2023 measures

Many older Australians are the beneficiaries of the May 2023 Federal Budget, with a cash boost for over-55s on JobSeeker, increased Rent Assistance and significant assistance for winter power bills for those on pensions and payments.

It will also be cheaper to see a doctor, with bulk-billing changes hailed by the Treasurer as the centrepiece of the Budget.

The $7.5 billion improvement in Medicare, indicates “the days of raiding the welfare budget” seem to be over, says commentator Laura Tingle.

Aged care workers will receive their biggest pay rise in history and the people for whom they care should also benefit from happier carers.

Dr Chalmers says cost-of-living relief is the Budget’s “number one priority”.

“Our overriding ambition is to help the people who need it most,” he told ABC’s David Speers. “We want to look after people, but we want to do it in a sustainable way.”

He added that he was “very proud” of the $4 billion surplus forecast, along with smaller deficits over the next few years.

“It’s a budget in Labor’s best traditions but also Australia’s best traditions: help for the vulnerable, broadening and extending more opportunities, and investing in the future of our country and its people,” he said.

“In dollar terms, it is the biggest budget turnaround on record, because of our responsible economic management.

“We are now forecasting a surplus this year, smaller deficits after that, and less debt throughout the budget. If this eventuates, this will be the first budget surplus in 15 years.”

How did older Australians fare?

“There are many direct benefits that older Australians will receive in their wallets out of this year’s budget,” says Council on the Ageing Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow.

“Energy relief of up to $500 per year, cheaper medicines, $15 a week more rent assistance, $20 a week more in JobSeeker payments, an additional $46 more a week in JobSeeker if you’re 55 years or older battling ageism when looking for a job for more than nine months.”

JobSeekers better off

JobSeeker recipients will receive an extra $40 per fortnight. But to help support older Australians struggling to re-enter the workforce and older women avoid poverty and homelessness, Australians aged between 55 and 60 who are currently on JobSeeker support payments will receive the much bigger boost.

“The majority of people aged 55 and over on JobSeeker are women, many with little to no savings or superannuation, and who are at risk of homelessness,” said Dr Chalmers.

Around 52,000 single Australians will receive a $92.10 fortnightly boost to their payments, lifting to $745.20. Prior to the announcement, the rate only applied to over-60s.

Rent Assistance has been raised by 15 per cent – a $2.5 billion investment that could equate to around $15 a week

More than 1.1 million households receiving the maximum Commonwealth Rent Assistance will benefit when the government beefs up the rate to 15 per cent.

Bulk-billing incentives will triple for pensioners and concession-card holders

Nearly 12 million Australians visit their doctors free under a boost to Medicare designed to encourage GPs to bulk-bill children under 16, pensioners and other concession card holders.

GPs will be able to claim the higher incentives for face-to-face consultations longer than six minutes as well as some telehealth consultations.

“This $4.9 billion investment will see more GPs bulk-billing pensioners and healthcare card holders without charging a co-payment,” says Ms Sparrow.

More Home Care packages

To enable more senior Australians to age in place, the government is committing $166.8 million for an additional 9500 home care packages.

Cheaper prescriptions

Around six million Aussies with chronic health conditions will be able to buy two months’ worth of medicine for the price of a single script, saving concession card holders up to $43.80 and general patients up to $180 per year, per medicine. The $1.2 billion in savings will be reinvested in community pharmacies.

Energy bill relief

The government will set aside $14.6 billon over the next four years to help alleviate cost-of-living pressures that have continued to escalate over the past year. The ‘Energy Price Relief Plan’ will deliver up to $500 in electricity bill relief for eligible households, affecting around five million households.

The amount of relief received will be dependent on the state in which you live, your financial circumstances, and the pricing arrangements in your state or territory.

Helping older Aussies with disabilities

Around $487 million will be put towards sustainably extending the Disability Support for Older Australian Program, which provides support to vulnerable older people with a disability.

More incentive to work

The government will extend the measure to provide age pensioners a once-off credit of $4000 to their Work Bonus income bank and temporarily increase the maximum income bank until 31 December 2023.

Older Australians doing it toughest, such as renters and those on pensions and payments, will benefit from the increases in Rent Assistance and energy relief.

There are also measures self-funded retirees and some of those nearing retirement should note.

Super measures

The Budget confirmed that tax concessions available to individuals with a total superannuation balance (TSB) exceeding $3 million will be reduced from 1 July 2025.

The headline tax rate for affected individuals will increase from 15 per cent to 30 per cent for earnings corresponding to the proportion of a TSB greater than $3 million.

This will affect some 80,000 individuals in 2025-26, or approximately 0.5 per cent of individuals with a superannuation account.

The halving of the minimum account-based pension (ABP) drawdown rates will end on 30 June and will return to pre-COVID levels from 1 July 2023.

This will particularly affect retirees with account-based pensions in their SMSFs, says SuperGuide writer Harry Chemay.

More money staying in workers’ pockets

From 1 July 2026, to help improve retirement outcomes for all workers, employers will be required to pay their employees’ super on the same day they pay salary and wages.

High income earners earning more than $120,000 will be happy to know the Stage 3 tax cuts will not be wound back as suggested by some economists. Labor has already faced criticism for not “making the tough call” to wind back the cuts, set to cost $20 billion a year when they come into effect in 2024.

That means pensioners can earn up to $11,800 before their pension is reduced, supporting pensioners who want to work, or work more hours without losing their pension.

Budget backlash

For years the Coalition has branded Labor as a party that spends too much and can’t manage budgets. This government was quick to capitalise on the political windfall of delivering the first surplus – albeit minor – in 15 years. But the glow will be short-lived.

Some speculate the Treasurer may have spent more than necessary on cost-of-living measures. Some say the Budget is inflationary and may undo all the sacrifices we’ve made so far to bring inflation back to manageable levels.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the support is meant to be “about helping people struggling to make ends meet while not adding to inflation”.

“It will be about providing affordable, effective and targeted cost-of-living relief, delivering historic investments in Medicare and health, supporting vulnerable Australians, growing the economy and strengthening the budget to make our finances more secure for the future,” he said earlier on Tuesday.

There are also those who say this Budget does little in the way of bringing in money in to pay for some of the promised measures. Ad there are those who say it’s just not enough.

“This Budget takes some important steps forward on many fronts, but a bolder vision is needed to adequately fund health, aged care, income support and other essential services, as well as invest in an adequate safety net and reforms to fairly and inclusively accelerate action on climate change,” says Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“The government is providing an increase of $2.85 a day for people with the least. The Stage 3 tax cuts will deliver $25 a day to people on the highest incomes. We have our priorities wrong.”

Also read: Social media reaction: What Aussies really think about the Budget

What do you think of the Budget? Will you benefit? Is it enough? What would you have liked to see included? Why not share your thoughts with our members?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

12 Comments

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  1. The high-income people should be paying more tax not less. This happens in every budget ever passed down I believe because all governments side with the “Rich” and bugger the poor.

    • That’s because they are in the higher income bracket. Go figure. The south Australian govt will be clapping their hands with glee – the rent relief given to those of us in a co-op house goes straight to them so they will end up with more money, not us. We don’t see a penny of it and haven’t for years.

    • You will never move the poor off social dependency by just transferring earned income ( read your so called rich) from those who have earned it.to those who expect it
      Just wealth transferring propping up the so called poor.
      Also thank god for evil Coal, Gas and Oil, where would we all be without those rivers of gold….??all poor I guess?

      • As an aged pensioner, I do not “expect” it as suggested. Some people seem to forget that we worked for long hours over 50 years paying very high taxes sometimes. Superannuation only came in towards the end of our working life so we did not have time to accumulate very much. We appreciate receiving the aged pension but under the circumstances feel we have “esrned” it.

  2. The budget might be good for some welfare recipients, but does very little for old age pensioners dependent on the AP.

    For many pensioners who already get the energy supplement, it looks like the energy relief’ is a replacement, so it is actually only a minor increase. The money the government has set aside to help alleviate cost-of-living pressures will be dependent on a State-by-State basis and the undisclosed pricing arrangements in each state.

    Being able to buy two months’ worth of medicine for the price of a single script, doesn’t end up as a saving. The $1.2bn in savings that will be reinvested in community pharmacies is coming from those who will forgo their safety net, making cheaper medicine is actually a misnomer. The double issue of scripts and the reduced price for medicines actually means people dependent on medicines will go from reaching their safety net on month 3 of the year, to reaching it in month 11. In the mean-time they may appear to have spent the same amount (the safety net amount) but when you do the maths, they end up spending more.

    I appreciate $15 a week more for rent assistance for those who don’t have their own homes, $20 a week more in JobSeeker payments and an additional $46 more a week in JobSeeker if you’re 55 years or older, but Centrelink pushes people at retirement age onto the Aged Pension. They do this regardless of whether a person is still looking for work, so this is all smoke and mirrors.

    Ageism is entrenched in the system and when older Australians are looking for a job, the people doing the interviews are anti-hiring older people. After nine months, you get pushed into mindless work that pays nothing, but it allows you to keep your JobSeeker right up until you reach retirement age. Then you are pushed onto the Aged Pension, whether or not you can get the full amount. Seems this is more smoke and mirrors from yet another government that doesn’t care about older Australians who have been there for Australia!

    If the government can justify an extra $40 per fortnight for Job Seekers and a bigger boost to support older Australians struggling to re-enter the workforce and older women to avoid poverty and homelessness, why did it not see pensioners in their own (downsized) home are facing significant costs and having to forego basic survival needs such as healthy eating.

    We are Australians and may be over 60, and are not on JobSeeker, but our aged pension that we contributed to for our whole working lives has been ignored. Many worked before compulsory super and often in jobs that did not pay excessive wages, so other than saving what we could and paying off a modest home, but our pension remained as it was, with no budget boost.

    I totally agree with giving women more support, but am confused; politicians decided that women and men should become eligible for the aged pension at the same age, but now have discovered this cohort are disadvantaged. Blind Freddy could have seen this would be the case, so why not really fix it and reinstate younger retirement for women? If the majority of people aged 55 and over on JobSeeker really are women, many with little to no savings or superannuation, and who are at risk of homelessness, a paltry increase in JobKeeper will not help them!

    I applaud the increase in rent assistance, but where were the real measures to increase home availability? Nothing. Some little amounts for ‘build-to-rent’ ignores that with immigration going back to pre-Covid levels, Australia has a shortage of homes and the solution, which has been avoided is to build up, not out. No mention of any support for this!

    The homecare packages to enable more senior Australians to age in place is a joke. It is not available to the 30% who live in apartments after following government recommendations and downsizing.

    With the increase in medium and high-density buildings, the energy efficiencies promised do not translate. People with stand-alone homes get support to become up to 30% more energy efficient, but for the around 30% of Australians who live in apartment buildings, nothing. Talk about marginalizing society. The government encourages downsizing then provides support to those who haven’t, not those who have.

    Likewise, no electric vehicle support for those living in apartment buildings, who often have to raise excessive amounts to create electric charging at home. Likewise, no support for those having to fund conversion from gas to electricity, nothing to help them with the massive increase in insurance they are forced to take on by legislation. There was nothing for controls to the ridiculous premiums being charged and nothing to help eliminate bad building practices that are costing home-owners a significant amount in repairs.

    When you consider many over 65s and many people on JobSeeker live in apartments, nothing was done, not even a minor investment, that would have helped people in this cohort survive.

    Bulk-billing incentives tripling for pensioners and concession-card holders only helps those who have not been able to find a doctor who will bulk-bill. Increasing the fee doctors can charge, may help, but where are the doctors? So many of those who qualify as doctors go on and become specialists, who in most cases do not have controls on their fees and don’t bulk-bill.

    Why wasn’t there some effort to really fix the system. It is fine to say nearly 12 million Australians will be able to visit their doctor free under the boost to Medicare, but this is dependent on their being doctors available in the first place. Great that GPs will be able to claim the higher incentives for longer face-to-face consultations, but wonder where these doctors will come from and why the fees for specialist services were not increased. Most of the ones I visit have come with significant out of pocket costs.

    • we are in the same boat and agree with you 100%
      we already get bulk billing so no benefit there
      we have already had $250 from the government in Victoria for power relief so soubt there will be very much more to come
      paying more to unemployed is outrageous.
      the ordinary pensioners have been cast aside without a thought

  3. Hi, what is not highlighted in the budget is the Govt is ripping $2.2 billion out of the Agedcare Homes on the basis that we encourage people to stay at home.
    Home can advanced dementia people stay at home !
    Getting both old and sick under this smokes and mirrors Govt is not something to look forward to.
    Cheers.

  4. HI WALLY HERE
    JUST A SHORT NOTE ,THE BUDGET ALL THE INCREASES FOR PENSIONER IS GOOD.
    BUT IS THERE A MIS PRINT IN THE PAGE,CENTRELINK PAY IN FORTNIGHTS NOT WEEKLY.

  5. I’m managing, on full AP and social housing. But am very concerned for younger person of my acquaintance. Should be on DSP, but impossible to get, is on Jobseeker. (I lived on NewStart for a while, it’s cruel. I got malnutrition). So this person is forced to do a series of crappy jobs, which are physically beyond their capacity. Can’t afford to rent. Lives with family, but it’s not a happy situation. No hope for the future. I’m concerned for their mental health, which seems to be declining.

  6. hope i’m not being silly, but what dates will most of these measures take place, apart from the ones that have been told, now, soon, later or very later ?
    silly billy boy 😉

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Federal Budget May 2023: Treasurer’s speech

Social media reaction: What Aussies really think about the Budget