Retirees set to suffer

The age of entitlement is over, we were told as the first Abbott/Hockey Budget was delivered two weeks ago. But inherent in this statement is the assumption that the Age Pension, amongst other payments, is an entitlement. Yet when the bill passed the House of Representatives way back in 1908, it was described, not as an entitlement, but as a reward, with comments by one member, Mr. Reid, who stated “I wish to heartily commend the character of this measure … in so far it removes the idea of old-age pensions from any suggestion of a charitable allowance. An old man, who has done his duty as a citizen for 25 years (is) as much entitled to a pension as a commander-in-chief or a chief justice.” The pension legislation passed the house in a unanimous vote.

So how is ‘our reward’ faring today? If suggested budget cuts were to be passed, it would further reduce a meagre allowance which simply does not keep pace with the cost of living. For those who wonder if they could live on an Age Pension, the YOURLifeChoices quarterly Retirement Update publishes Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) retirement updates, which reveal what it takes to live a modest existence. When compared to the current Age Pension, the pension lags behind by $1371

See the most recent retirement living costs here and calculate how you are going with our handy budget spreadsheet.

Can you survive on the pension?

This blog is not an opinion piece, but a call for comments. The facts in the preceding news piece tell us that the full Age Pension is insufficient to cover basic living costs for singles or couples. So what do the thousands of people on a full Age Pension do to make up the shortfall? If you are living on a full Age Pension, we are keen to know how you manage. What do you do without in order to make ends meet? We hear a lot of anecdotal stories about pensioners who are forced to choose when it comes to ‘heat or eat’ – energy bills v. full meals. Is this your situation? And if so, do the extra planned fees for medical co-payments mean you have to give other things up as well?

You may also have a point of view on whether an Age Pension is an entitlement, or whether it is a reward, or whether it will need to be made harder to access for the good of future generations. We value your thoughts and feedback.

Written by Kaye Fallick