While we’ve known for sometime about the 1 January 2017 changes to the asset thresholds, retirees may not find out until just before Christmas if their Age Pensions will be affected.
The asset thresholds that will apply have been finalised since 20 September 2016 but thanks largely to the complex rules surrounding Age Pension payment calculations, there’s still some uncertainly as to who will be affected and by how much. Human Services has an Age Pension estimator on its website to give people an indication of how their payment will be affected.
For those who are likely to be affected or who find themselves just outside the threshold, a letter should arrive within the coming few weeks. However, confirmation of individual cases will not be received until early December – just in time for Christmas and only a couple of weeks before the changes take effect.
Federal cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos said anyone who is unsure of their circumstances can contact Centrelink for clarification. “Any pensioner who has an issue should get on to Centrelink now and get it clarified, and they’re waiting to answer their (pensioner’s) questions.” Clearly Senator Sinodinos has never had to call Centrelink for clarification on any matter.
Announced in the 2015/16 Federal Budget, the changes have been modelled to show that approximately 416,000 age pensioners will be affected. Of this number, 170,000 will be better off, with 50,000 currently receiving a part Age Pension expected to receive a full Age Pension once the thresholds have been changed. A further 120,000 on a part Age Pension can expect their payment to increase by $30 per fortnight. These changes will also see 91,000 lose their Age Pension entitlement and about 235,000 see their part Age Pensions reduce.
Those who lose their Age Pension will receive a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which will be exempt indefinitely from the associated income test.
You can find out more about the changes and the new thresholds at HumanServices.gov.au