The government's Age Pension and Seniors Health Card may be available to help you cover expenses and access discounted essentials.

Age Pension

The Age Pension is currently available to any Australian who is at least 65 and can satisfy a financial means test and residency requirements.

What money you have in super when you’re ready to retire can impact your government pension entitlements, so it’s important to understand how it all works.

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The Age Pension is both a regular income stream paid to your bank account every fortnight, and a way of accessing discounts and concessions on life and health essentials.

A Pensioner Concession Card gives you access to discounts on:

  • Prescription medication
  • Property and water rates
  • Utilities bills
  • Public transport fares
  • Vehicle licensing and registration

What you are entitled to receive depends on your financial situation.

As of 20 March 2017, the maximum amount you can receive per fortnight is $888.30 for a single person, and $1,339.20 for a couple combined.

If you still do occasional casual work, you may be able to earn an extra $250 per fortnight, up to a maximum of $6,500, that won’t be counted towards your assessable income, under the government’s Work Bonus scheme.

How early you can access the pension is slowly increasing from 65 to 67 years of age over the next two years. To find out when you can apply, check the table below.

To be eligible, you also need to have been an Australian resident for a continuous period of at least 10 years, or for a number of periods that total more than 10 years with one of the periods being at least 5 years. Exemptions to this apply, such as being a refugee. You must also be in Australia at the time of applying.

At what age am I eligible for the Age Pension?
If you were born... Women Men
Before 1 January 1949
64 and 6 months
Between 1 January 1949 and 30 June 1952 65 65
Between 1 July 1952 and 31 December 1953 65 and 6 months 65 and 6 months
Between 1 January 1954 and 30 June 1955 66 66
Between 1 July 1955 and 31 December 1956 66 and 6 months 66 and 6 months
After 1 January 1957 67 67
You are eligible for the Age Pension at age...
You are eligible for the Age Pension at age...
You are eligible for the Age Pension at age...
You are eligible for the Age Pension at age...

When Centrelink assesses your eligibility for the Age Pension, they look at both your assets and income in two separate tests.

Whichever test results in the lower pension amount will be the test that is applied.

When they apply the income test, they will take into account your work income, excluding the first $250.

You can earn up to $164 as a single person or $292 as a couple per fortnight, before your income impacts what you’re eligible to receive.

For every dollar you earn in excess of that, your payments will be reduced by 50 cents whether you are a single person or a couple.

When applying the income test, they will consider your income stream, super (including defined benefit pensions), bank deposits, term deposits, loans, and your share portfolio.

The level of assessed assets you can have and still be eligible for the pension are outlined in the table below. These figures are as at 1 January 2017. 

Family situation Homeowners Non-homeowners
Single $250,000 $450,000
Couple combined $375,000 $575,000
Illness separated couple combined $375,000 $575,000
One partner eligible, combined assets $375,000 $575,000
I want to learn more about the 1 January 2017 asset test changes

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

If you don’t qualify for the Age Pension but you’ve reached your pension age, you may be entitled to a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (seniors card). This card entitles you to discounts on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescriptions and some other medical expenses.

If you have a seniors card, you may also be entitled to receive the quarterly energy supplement.

To be eligible you must be an Australian resident and you’ll need to meet the requirements of the income test. There is no assets test.

You should have an annual income^1 of less than:

  • $52,796 if you are single
  • $84,472 for couples combined

Age Pension recipients who lose their entitlements as a result of the asset test change coming in from 1 January 2017 will now qualify for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. This means that you don’t have to meet the income test requirements for these cards.

For more information on the asset test changes, including how assets over the new threshold will affect your payments, visit changes to the pension asset test on the Department of Human Service website.

Pensioner Concession Card

To be eligible for a Pensioner Concession Card, you must be receiving a certain income support payment, such as the Age Pension, and you must meet age and work requirements.

This card entitles you to discounts on approved PBS medicines, bulk billing for doctor's appointments (at doctor’s discretion), refunds for medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net, assistance with hearing services through the Office of Hearing Services website, and discounted mail redirection through Australia Post.

Your Pensioner Concession Card will be cancelled but you will automatically be sent a non-income tested Low Income Health Care Card. This card will give you access to cheaper prescription medicines, and various concessions from government and private organisations.

Rent assistance

You may be entitled to rent assistance if you receive a Centrelink payment, such as the Age Pension. To be eligible for rent assistance, you must be paying more than the minimum amount of rent (shown the table below) for:

  • rent, other than to a state or territory housing authority
  • service and maintenance fees in a retirement village
  • lodging or board 
  • fees paid to use a caravan site or other accommodation that you occupy as your principal home
  • fees paid to moor a vessel you occupy as your principal home.
Rent assistance rates for when you do not have dependent children
Family situation
(updated 20/03/17)
Maximum payment per fortnight No payment if your fortnightly rent is less than Maximum payment if your fortnightly rent is more than
Single, with no children $132.20 $117.80 $294.07
Couple, with no children $124.60 $191.00 $357.13
I want more information on Rent Assistance or to lodge a claim

Useful links

  • Centrelink: If you’d like more information about the Age Pension or your Centrelink benefits, contact Centrelink on 132 300 or visit the Department of Human Services website.
  • Government financial education seminars: The Department of Human Services runs free financial education seminars for retirees who want to understand the pension and other options.
  • First State Super seminars: We run regular ‘transition to retirement’ and ‘retirement planning’ seminars. 

Seminars are free and they offer a great opportunity for you talk to our experienced team.

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