Time to claim an Age Pension

John and his wife have found themselves in the unfortunate position of urgently needing financial assistance, but are reluctant to approach Centrelink.

Q. John
I need your advice to guide my wife and I, who are both over 70 years of age, through the complications of receiving an Age Pension and other government support.

Since June of this year my work as a consultant to small business has declined rapidly, to the extent that what meagre savings we had accumulated have virtually dried up.

We have no assets. Our liabilities include credit cards and store cards totalling about $40,000 and a car that is under a leasing finance arrangement. We currently rent an apartment. It is expensive, but we don’t have the financial means to set up more affordable accommodation, or even pay for removalists. Our next rent of $4,000 is due on 15 November.

We take full responsibility for finding ourselves in this awkward position – however the fact that my wife had to stop work over five years ago because of ill-health and a major operation, plus associated medical expenses, has not helped.

Neither of us are earning any income and we’re in desperate need of some assistance.

A. I’m sorry you have found yourself in an unfortunate position and that your past dealings with Centrelink has made you reticent to seek assistance.

Based on what you have said, you and your wife should both be entitled to the Age Pension and possibly rent assistance. You will, however, need to submit your full details to Centrelink for your claim to be properly assessed.

The Age Pension, as you are no doubt aware, is subject to an asset and income test, as well as residency requirements. Assuming you both meet the residency requirement, are earning below the income limits for a couple and have no assets as you say, then you should start the claim process as soon as possible. For your information, below are links to the current asset and income limits.

Asset test tables

Income test limits for pensions

If you’re still earning an income, then the Work Bonus may mean that you are still entitled to claim an Age Pension. You can find out more by clicking the link below.

Will I be eligible for the work bonus?

In terms of rent assistance, there is certain criteria you must meet, which is basically that you must be receiving a government support payment and be paying private rent of a certain amount. You can find out more by visiting Centrelink at the link below.


I hope this gives you a brief outline, but you will need to contact Centrelink to progress your claim. You should call 13 2300 to make an appointment. Don’t forget to ask for a complete list of documents you should take so as not to hold up your claim.

Written by Debbie McTaggart