How long does it take to process Age Pension applications?

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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 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. First, 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

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Total Comments: 13
  1. 0

    I think I saw somewhere it’s about 2 weeks max if everything provided at time of lodgment.

    • 0

      Dream on McDaddy,
      We applied in early February, got a request for updated info in late March, (responded to by us within 2 days), and have not heard anything since. it is now 4 months to the day.

      2 weeks max? What a (sick) joke.

      Next stop? a Politician to complain.

    • 0

      I did say ….if everything provided, two weeks. Why have you had no contact in 4 months? Have you phoned, gone into office? Is anything still outstanding?

    • 0

      McDaddy – I wish I lived on your planet. I applied 2 years ago, with absolutely all the correct paperwork. Took it in to my local branch. Being a little paranoid about Centrelink and delays, I photocopied every page I gave them, and got them to sign an acknowledgement receipt. (habit of being a bookkeeper). Had not heard anything after a month, so went in to the office.
      First they said they would contact me about the progress. I insisted I had waited a month to hear about the ‘progress’ and pushed for more assistance. Finally they admitted the delay was because I had not provided the correct information – my application was missing some relevant paperwork. I pulled out all my copy paperwork and the excuses started flying thick. I then made a complaint to the actual Minister, I never received so much as a ‘sorry’ from the office staff.
      All up it was just under 10 weeks. Yes they back paid, but that wasn’t the issue. It was their incompetence. Since then, I have avoided any dealings with Centrelink as much as I can. If I have to lodge anything on line, I always keep a copy, and their receipt.

  2. 0

    I may have just been lucky, started my application for aged pension In March at the beginning of the Covid 19 rush and had approval two weeks later. Just a couple of minor hiccups with the online program that Centrelink promptly rectified.
    I have nothing but compliments for the help offered by Centrelink staff.

    • 0

      Ajay Centrelink are not there to help you CES were, Centrelink will take the forms of you and say these will be sent through to where ever,
      next please

    • 0

      Your experience is more the norm these days if everything uploaded with claim and Identity confirmed, then it can be very quick. The exception would be if someone had more complicated financial circumstances though, time will be added then. A better experience overall.

  3. 0

    I just can’t wait until 14th November 2022 when I can apply for the Age Pension. I’m currently on DSP, and have many travel restrictions imposed on me – only 28 days overseas in any rolling 12 month period. After that, it’s cut off and I may not be able to automatically get it back when I arrive back home. The Age Pension has a 6 week full rate, and then a lower rate after that until you arrive back home.

    It took 4 months in 1999 to transfer from the Parenting Payment Single (PPS) to DSP, but I was fortunate enough to already be receiving a payment, so it didn’t worry me. To get the PPS, it was assessed in front of me, as I had an appointment and took all my documentation with me to the appointment, but this was in 1994! How things have changed!

  4. 0

    The qualifying ages are 18 months, but they have an additional 6 months at the end of every cycle to finalise all the claims, then the next age bracket starts. The above table isn’t full. There should be an additional column named: ‘Applications start at’ and then the January dates are inserted.

    Application dates –
    01/01/2018 – 30/06/19 (01/07/19 for 31/12/53 birthdate)
    01/01/2020 – 30/06/21
    01/01/22 – 30/06/23 (01/07/23 for 31/12/56 birthdate)
    01/01/2024 on

  5. 0

    I had to go to the centrelink office with all my forms and proof of documents. The girl went over them and said ok . Photo copied the docs I needed back and put them to the side of her desk . Said goodbye and that was it . I have the app on my phone where you can see “if you have a claim in progress “ well nearly 5 weeks has passed and still no update on that . Only plan is to wait and go again to the office and see if the forms are still on her desk lol . I would have done it online but certain documents were needed to be seen . Wish me luck people !

  6. 0

    I applied online June 19th – 89 days out from my 66th. birthday.

    On July 7th I received an email from Centrelink stating that my LIHCC would be cancelled on November 2nd because I would be over the 8 week retention amount – their systems can see 4 months into the future!

    I’m guessing that notification was sent because once I get the pension I would be over the LIHCC limit.

    Other than that I have had no notification from Centrelink at all about my age pension claim and when I use the Express Plus Centrelink app my claim does not even show.
    If I logon using myGov the claim is at the bottom of the list with a status of “Completed”

    When I phoned Centrelink the other day I was told that I would be notified 2 weeks before my birthday about my claim.

  7. 0

    I am 67 years old and on14 September 2020 I went into Centrelink with my application. I had a trust set up in May 2011 for my daughter to mature when she was 18 years old in July 2020. The trust has been paid out and finished before I claimed the pension with all transparency given to Centrelink, however I was told it had to go to the legal department to check that I was legitimate. I have rang and visited Centrelink a few times but have no progress reports just given hope that it will be processed soon.

  8. 0

    I am 71 yo and I have applied for age pension recently. Last year I survived on my redundancy payment ( not very much). I have a saving and a Super fund which is not exceeding 200 K. if I don’t get any pension soon. I will have to live on my overdraft facilities ( 5.84 %) and using my saving to live on. Son suggested , perhaps I might want to use the saving to invest together with my son. But with this idea, for sure I wont get any income soon, because its kind like a strawberry farm. Would i be able to join this business and report to them later on ? Thanks



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