The Age Pension and separation

Michael is considering the financial implications of separating for the Age Pension and wants to know what it takes to be considered separated.


Q. Michael
My wife is a recent permanent resident to Australia. I am on the Age Pension. The policy related to married couples with one partner working seems to be punitive and non-productive. My pension is significantly reduced now that I’m married, and almost everything my wife earns gets 50 per cent cut off my pension.

We are considering the financial benefits of separating and maintaining two dwellings, one in her name and one in mine. Do we need to divorce to convince Centrelink that we are separated? Are we allowed to be ‘friends’ after separation? What is your advice?

A. If your separation is legitimate you don’t have to be divorced to be considered separated, but I would strongly advise against trying to manipulate this situation under false pretences. There are very stiff penalties for claiming false relationship status. Consequences can include jail time and being forced to pay back any benefits to which you were not entitled.

If a couple claim to be separated they must establish that:

  • they are living apart either permanently or indefinitely, and
  • there has been an estrangement or breakdown in their relationship.

Generally, a physical separation as well as an emotional separation between the couple is required.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

Written by Ben


Can you keep investment properties and claim the pension?

David is suffering MS, but is worried he won't be able to get the disability pension.

What support is offered to pensioners who need assistance?

Jock is having trouble around the home and wonders if he qualifies for a special pension.

Will overseas trip to visit mum affect Age Pension?

Sandra is desperate to visit her mother overseas, but fears that will delay pension.