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.

From 1 July 2017, you can start to receive the Age Pension once you reach 65 years and 6 months of age. After that, the Age Pension age will go up 6 months every 2 years to 67 years by 1 July 2023. To find out when you can apply, check the table below.

To get Age Pension you need to have been an Australian resident for at least 10 years in total. For at least 5 of these years, there must be no break in your residence. Other conditions apply and can be found on the Department of Community Services website.

At what age am I eligible for the Age Pension?
If you were born... Women Men
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.

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, remembering that the first $250 work income is excluded from this.

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.

From 1 January 2017, your payments reduce if your assets are more than the amounts below^1. 

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

Part pensions

From 20 March 2017, part pensions will be cancelled when your assets are more than the amounts below^1.

If you're: Homeowners Non-homeowners
Single $546,250 $746,250
in a couple, combined $821,500 $1,021,500
Illness separated couple, combined $967,500 $1,167,500
One partner eligible, combined $821,500 $1,021,500

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.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Your card is valid for 1 year and a new card will be issued each year in August, if you remain eligible.

You must meet an income test to get the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which is reviewed on 20 September each year in line with the Consumer Price Index. There is no assets test.

To pass the income test, you must earn no more than:

  • $52,796 a year if you’re single
  • $84,472 a year for couples
  • $105,592 a year for couples separated by illness, respite care or prison

Add $639.60 to these amounts for each child in your care.

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 two cards, the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and Low Income Health Care 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.

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 the minimum amount of rent (shown in 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.

For every $1 of rent you pay above this amount, you will get $0.75.

Rent assistance rates for when you do not have dependent children^1
If you are Minimum rent you need to pay each fortnight You will get the full amount if your fortnightly rent is more than... Full amount you can get each fortnight is...

Single

$117.80

$294.07

$132.20

Single, sharer

$117.80

$235.31

$88.13

Couple

$191.00

$357.13

$124.60

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. 

The no additional cost seminars offer a great opportunity for you to talk to our experienced team.

I want to attend an upcoming seminar
  1. Source: Department of Human Services