Unlike recent years, the good news for retirees coming out of this year’s budget is no negative changes to pensions or superannuation rules. But a raft of proposals were announced for older Australians. Here’s a snapshot of what may be coming.
In response to increasing electricity prices, the government will provide a one-off payment of $75 for singles and $125 for couples to help pay energy bills. This will apply to Australian residents who are eligible for the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payment Single, the Veterans’ Service Pension, the Veterans’ Income Support Supplement, Veterans’ disability payments and War Widow(er)s Pension. The payments are expected to be deposited into the bank accounts of up to 3.5 million people before June 30.
Reinstating the pensioner concession card
If you were hit by asset test changes in January this year and lost your pensioner concession card, you’ll be pleased to know the card will be reinstated. This will give more than 92,000 pensioners access to discounts and state and territory based concessions that were previously withdrawn.
Seniors’ health will receive a boost through an injection of an additional $1.2 billion into programs such as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Home support services
The government also plans to provide $5.5 billion for home support services for the elderly as Australia’s population continues to age. So if you’re receiving in-home care such as personal services and Meals on Wheels, you could benefit from a proposed $5.5 billion extension to the Commonwealth Home Support Program over two years from 2018.
Increased Medicare levy
If you pay tax on your pension payments, this will increase from 1 July 2019 when the Medicare levy is proposed to increase by 0.5%.
And if you’d like to downsize your family home, the government is proposing to allow those aged over 65 to make a non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 into their superannuation from the sale of their family home.
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