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News for Seniors

Home Equity Access Scheme

On 30 March 2022, legislation passed to introduce a No Negative Equity Guarantee under the Home Equity Access Scheme (formerly the Pension Loans Scheme). The amendment also introduced two lump sum advances in any 12-month period, of up to 50 per cent of the maximum rate of pension. Based on current rates, this equates to an advance of around $12,840 for singles, and $19,355 for couples combined.

The changes will come into effect on 1 July 2022. For more information on the scheme and how to apply, go to the Services Australia website.

Cost of Living Payment

On 29 March 2022, the Australian Government announced around 6 million eligible payment recipients and concession card holders will receive a one-off, tax-free Cost of Living Payment of $250. More than half of recipients will be pensioners.
Payments will be made progressively from 28 April 2022, through Services Australia. Eligible recipients, including Age Pension recipients, do not need to contact Services Australia – the payments will be made automatically. For more information go to the Services Australia website.

Indexation

From 20 March 2022, Age Pension rates increased by $20.10 to $987.60 a fortnight for single pensioners or $25,677.60 a year. The maximum rate for pensioner couples combined increased by $30.20 to $1,488.80 a fortnight or $38,708.80 a year. This represents a 2.1 per cent increase to their payments.

Pensions will next be indexed on 20 September 2022.

Deeming Rates

On 1 May 2020, the Australian Government reduced the lower deeming rate to 0.25 per cent, and the upper rate to 2.25 per cent.

This benefited around 565,000 Age Pension recipients who were expected to receive, on average, an additional $313 from the Age Pension in the first full year the reduced rates applied.

Work Bonus

The Work Bonus provides an incentive for pensioners over Age Pension age to work by allowing them to keep more of their pension when they have income from working.

The first $300 of fortnightly income from work is not assessed and is not counted under the pension income test.  Any unused part of the $300 fortnightly Work Bonus exemption amount accrues in a Work Bonus income bank. The maximum Work Bonus income bank amount that can be accrued is $7,800. The income bank amount offsets future income from work that would otherwise be assessable under the pension income test.

The Work Bonus operates in addition to the pension income test free area. From 1 July 2021, for single pensioners, the pension income test free area is $180 a fortnight for singles and for couples combined it is $320 a fortnight. For example, this means a single pensioner over Age Pension age with no other private income could earn up to $480 a fortnight from work and still receive the maximum rate of pension.

For more information go to the Work Bonus factsheet.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to be retired to access Age Pension?

  • There is no requirement to be retired to access Age Pension, as long as a person meets the eligibility criteria and has income and assets below certain limits. For more information, go to the Services Australia website.  
  • Pensioners who work while receiving the Age Pension can access the Work Bonus, which allows them to keep more of their pension when they have income from work.

Will Age Pension recipients be placed on the Cashless Welfare Card?

  • No. Age Pension recipients cannot be placed compulsorily on to a cashless welfare card, with the exception of the Cashless Debit Card in the Cape York region, consistent with long-standing Income Management arrangements with the Family Responsibilities Commission.

Do social security recipients need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to receive payment?

  • There is no requirement to be vaccinated to receive social security payments. Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary and this will apply to any COVID-19 vaccination that may become available.

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