Australian pensions lag behind

Today is the International Day of Older Persons. So it is depressing to learn that we rate 61st in the world for income security.

HelpAge International today released its Global AgeWatch Index, ranking 96 countries (90% of the world’s population) according to four key indicators for the economic and social wellbeing of older citizens.

Whilst Australia ranked 13th overall, this was due to our strong health (5th) and capability (2nd) ratings. When it comes to income security we ranked 61st and for ‘enabling environment’, 25 other nations were ahead of us.

Read HelpAge International’s full report here.

Pension poverty worsens

So it’s official. We’re the third meanest country when it comes to pensions and now the worst in our region for income security.

As we head towards 2050 when there will be more people aged over 60 than under 15, it is a cause for great concern to learn that Australia is the lowest ranking country in our region for income security  (61st out of 96 countries) with the highest old age poverty, according to HelpAge International. Those who keep a close eye on the rate of the pension, and how sustainable an income stream it is, will hardly be surprised.

So what does this mean in practical terms for the 4.4 million Australians living on a full or part Age Pension?

The fact that Australian Age pensioners are the worst-funded in our region is particularly ironic when they are being told to be ‘lifters not leaners’ and to cheerfully accept cuts to the pension and an increased pension age.

And there are few prospects of this improving anytime soon, with a social security bill currently scheduled in the Senate which will change the access age of the Age Pension (from 67 to 70) as well as indexation and deeming rates – further reducing the purchasing power of the pension and the number of people who qualify.

My ‘Open letter to Joe Hockey’ (from YOURLifeChoices latest Retirement Update) questions why, as the second nation in the world to introduce an Age Pension, we are now going backwards when it comes to offering income security for those aged 65 and older.

And it seems likely that the opinion of older Australians will be expressed strongly at the ballot box in 2016.

What do you think?

Are you surprised to learn how low on the scale we are for retirement income security? Or do you accept this is needed to help balance the Federal Government’s budget? Will this affect how you vote in the next federal election?

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