Government changes that could affect your retirement

Increase to Age Pension rates
The rate of a full Age Pension, including Pension Supplement and the Energy Supplement (formerly known as the Clean Energy Supplement), increased from 20 September. It is now $967.50 per fortnight for singles and $729.30 per fortnight for each eligible member of a couple.

Under the income test, your pension payment is reduced by 50 cents for every $1 of assessable income over the current limit to qualify for a full Age Pension, which for singles is $178 per fortnight. Once your assessable income is more than $2115.00 per fortnight, you will lose your Age Pension. Under the assets test, your Age Pension is reduced by $3 per fortnight for every $1000 you exceed the assets limit for a full Age Pension.

The Work Bonus, which was introduced in 2009, is designed to encourage people to work past the qualifying age for the Age Pension. Under the Work Bonus, the first $300 of income per fortnight derived from employment is exempt from the income test.

The next anticipated increase in Age Pension rates is 20 March 2022.

Read: Age Pension increases: 20 September 2021

Centrelink debt notices
More than 11,000 people were issued with unexpected debt notices from Centrelink after lodging their tax returns for the 2020–21 financial year. The notices claim discrepancies between income reporting and the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments, with more than $32 million claimed to be owed.

If you received a notice and believe the debt has been raised in error, you can call the number listed on your debt notice or your regular income reporting line or the Centrelink Debt Recovery line.

If you need legal help to appeal a Centrelink decision, Legal Aid in each state may be able to help and free Centrelink-specific legal advice is available through Economic Justice Australia.

Read: What can you do if you receive a Centrelink debt notice?

COVID Disaster Payments
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment, which replaced JobKeeper and was costing the federal government around $1 billion a week, is being phased out.

It was rolled out as a way to replace the JobKeeper payments, to help those who were affected by lockdowns when the COVID-19 Delta variant swept through the nation.

At 70 per cent vaccination rate in each state and territory, residents need to reapply for the payment each week, and at 80 per cent the payments begin to taper off.

Proof of vaccination
Showing proof of your vaccination status is key to your ability to move around Australia, and with this in mind Services Australia has made it easy for this to be displayed on your device.

Once you have had all your required doses and your immunisation record has been updated, you can get your COVID-19 digital certificate.

You can add your certificate to your Apple Wallet or Google Pay using either the Express Plus Medicare mobile app or your Medicare online account through myGov. You can find a ‘how to’ here.

Read: What you need to do to be vaccination passport ready

Super fund change
A change that came into effect on 1 November 2021 means your super fund will follow you to new employment. This has been dubbed ‘stapling’ and will avoid the creation of unintended multiple super accounts when you change jobs.

Which changes will most affect you? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Janelle Ward
Janelle Ward
Energetic and skilled editor and writer with expert knowledge of retirement, retirement income, superannuation and retirement planning.
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