Will I get a pension?

YOURLifeChoices member Noel is struggling to continue working due to ill health, but isn’t sure if he and his wife meet the criteria for the Age Pension.

Q. Noel
I turned 65 years of age in December and am quite unwell now and wondering if I would be entitled to the Age Pension so that I could finish working.

My wife is a cleaner, but because of the downturn in work has not worked since the end of September. She is trying to find alternative employment but it is so hard at the moment.  She did go to Centrelink to try to obtain a pension, but could only get $22.00 a fortnight because of my wage.  I currently earn $40000 per year.

We own our own home and my superannuation balance is $125000 as at yesterday.  I own my own car valued at approximately $5000 and we have the furniture etc in our home, which would be worth approximately $50,000.  I have about $100 in savings as all of my wage has been being used to just survive with my wife being out of work.

Can you please advise if I am eligible for the Age Pension and would she also be eligible for Newstart until such time as she gains employment?  She has no savings either and has a car which is valued at approximately $3000.

A. I think you would benefit from an appointment with a Centrelink Financial Information Services Officer (FISO) as the information you have provided would indicate that you are entitled to at least a part Age Pension. You can make an appointment at any time by calling 13 23 00.

Your eligibility for the Age Pension is based on assessment of your income and assets. Based on your current income, you should be able to claim a part Age Pension if you continue to work. If you are planning to stop work, then your income is not a barrier. However, if you are planning to draw a pension from your superannuation, then this income will be assessed and may reduce your Age Pension payment. It is also worth noting that you will be assessed as part of a couple and therefore any income your wife earns will be used in assessing your eligibility. You can view the current income limits by reading Income test limits for pensioners.

In regards to your assets, your home is exempt from the asset limits and you appear to have assets within the current limits. This means your assets should not exempt you from receiving an Age Pension. You can view the current limits having a look at the Asset test tables.

If you are eligible for an Age Pension, then your wife should receive Newstart Allowance as your assets and income are below the limits, however, her payment may be reduced depending on this assessment.

You can view the eligibility criteria for Newstart reading YOURLifeChoices helpful article on Newstart Allowance, which explains the ins and outs of this (slightly complicated) payment. 

Assessment for the Age Pension and Newstart Allowance is based on many factors and you should discuss these with a FISO. As you are considering giving up work and drawing a pension from your superannuation, then you should also seek independent financial advice from a qualified planner.