Should I now get a single pension?

Peter’s wife’s Newstart Allowance has been stopped as she’s overseas so he would like to know if this means he should now be paid a single Age Pension.

Q. Peter

I am 67 and on an Age Pension, my wife is 59 and on Newstart Allowance.

We recently travelled overseas for four weeks and my wife continued on over there to visit and assist with her elderly father. She will be there for approximately four to five weeks and she will have left the country for approximately nine weeks in total, of which she informed Centrelink.

Centrelink has stopped her payment immediately and also her Opal Card has been suspended.

As we are treated as a couple for payments and her Newstart Allowance has ceased, should I not then revert to a single Age Pension for that period?

Also, what payment, etc., would my wife be entitled to if she were not to continue with voluntary work and also didn’t go onto job search? What rate would my Age Pension then be?

A. The rules that apply to Newstart Allowance and the Age Pension are quite different. As Newstart Allowance is essentially a job seeker’s benefit, it is stopped once you leave the country. As your wife’s Newstart Allowance is not assessed as income under your Age Pension payment, then there is no allowance for you when her payment stops.

If your wife does not receive Newstart Allowance then there is no other payment she is entitled to until she reaches Age Pension age.

Your Age Pension payment will remain the same, as you will continue to be assessed as a couple, with the same level of income and assets that you have currently.

I hope this answers your initial questions, however, the information is general in nature and it may help to confirm your circumstances with Centrelink.

Related articles:
Age Pension eligibility
Newstart rates and thresholds

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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