My wife and I have just been at Centrelink and we are now very confused. I am about to turn 65 and my wife is 62. I have supported her for the last 10 years as she has not worked. Centrelink is now telling us the I will only get the single pension and that she will have to get Newstart and either get a job or do 15 hours per week voluntary work.
I have read a number of publications and this does not seem correct. According to my interpretation I should be eligible for a couples pension. Does anyone know what the correct answer is as Centrelink are very confusing?
A. Provided by Centrelink
If you are a member of a couple, you may be eligible for the partnered rate of Age Pension. This is the case even if the other member of the couple is not receiving a Centrelink payment. Age Pension is income and assets tested, and I've included a link to more information about the payment rates for Age Pension.
Centrelink website - Pension rates for Age Pension
To be eligible for Age Pension, you need to meet certain criteria. Based on the information you've provided, your wife is not eligible for Age Pension as she has not reached the qualifying age. A person who is not eligible for Age Pension may be eligible for other Centrelink payments, for example Newstart Allowance.
Qualifying ages for Age Pension differ for men and women - basically, the qualifying age is 65 for males and varies slightly for females according to the year they were born. For example, a woman born between 1 July 1944 and 31 December 1945 would reach the age pension qualifying age at 63, however, a woman born after 1 January 1949 wouldn't be eligible until she is 65. Here's a link to the eligibility rules for Age Pension.
Centrelink website - Eligibility for Age Pension
It may also be useful to note, Centrelink has a Financial Information Service which offers confidential, free, independent and expert information to assist in planning for your future and retirement. You can make an appointment with a FIS Officer by calling Centrelink on 13 2300. Here is a link to information regarding FIS.
Centrelink website - Financial Information Service
If you are unsure about the rate of payment you may receive if you claimed Age Pension, I strongly recommend that you contact Centrelink to discuss your individual circumstances. You can either call Centrelink on 13 2300 or visit your local Customer Service Centre.
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