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Factsheet IS05 - Social Security Age Pension Overview

Purpose

This Factsheet explains what an age pension is, what the eligibility criteria are, who can receive the age pension through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), and provides information on associated benefits.  For more information on specific topics contact DVA.

What is an age pension?

An age pension provides a regular income for people with limited means.  An age pension is paid to a person who has reached pension age, and is subject to income and assets tests.

The age pension is paid fortnightly, based on daily entitlements.  The rate of age pension is reviewed twice-yearly, in March and September, in line with movements in the cost of living and/or average wages.

Who is eligible?

An age pension is payable to a person who has reached pension age (see the paragraph titled ‘What is pension age’ in this Factsheet); and

  • has 10 years qualifying Australian residence; or
  • has a qualifying residence exemption for an age pension; or
  • was receiving a widow B pension, a widow allowance, a mature age allowance or a partner allowance, immediately before reaching that age; or
  • if the person reached pension age before 20 March 1997- the person was receiving a widow B pension, a widow allowance or a partner allowance, immediately before 20 March 1997.

Age pension available through DVA

Certain veterans and their partners who receive a disability pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs can also have their social security age pension paid by DVA.

Age pension and service pension

You cannot receive an age pension as well as a service pension from DVA or any other social security pension or benefit (except child-related payments) from Centrelink.

What is pension age?

Your pension age depends on your date of birth.

Age pension age will increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 on 1 July 2023.  Your pension age is determined by the following table:

Male and Female Non-Veterans
If your date of birth is on or between: Then your pension age is:
Before 1 July 1952 65 years
1 July 1952 to 31 December 1953 65 years and 6 months
1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955 66 years
1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956 66 years and 6 months
On or after 1 January 1957 67 years

Who is eligible to have an age pension paid by DVA?

You are eligible to receive an age pension from DVA, if you:

  • are an Australian veteran who has rendered eligible war service;
  • receive a DVA disability pension;
  • are at least pension age (refer to the section titled ‘What is pension age’ mentioned earlier in this Factsheet);
  • receive a social security age pension, or are eligible to receive it; and
  • do not receive a service pension from DVA or any income support pension other than the Age Pension from Centrelink.

An age pension may not be payable because of your income and assets, even if you are eligible (see the section titled ‘Income and assets tests’ in this Factsheet).

Eligibility for age pension to be paid by DVA - partners

Age pension may be paid by DVA to partners who are:

  • legally married to and living with a veteran;
  • legally married to but separated from a veteran; or
  • living in a de facto relationship with a veteran
  • where the veteran is receiving, or is eligible to receive the age pension through DVA.

Female partners are eligible if they:

  • receive a social security age pension or wife pension, or are eligible to receive an age pension; and
  • do not receive a service pension from DVA, or any income support pension other than the age pension from Centrelink.

Male partners are eligible if they:

  • receive a social security age pension or are eligible to receive an age pension; and
  • do not receive a service pension from DVA or any income support pension other than the age pension from Centrelink.

How do I transfer from Centrelink to DVA?

If you are currently receiving an age pension from Centrelink, but would prefer to receive your age pension through DVA, you can apply for payment by lodging Form D0664 Claim for transfer of payment of Centrelink age pension to DVA at your nearest DVA office.  DVA will verify your personal details with Centrelink and arrange for Centrelink to stop your payments.

How do I claim?

To claim an age pension through DVA you need to:

  • complete a Claim for Age Pension; and
  • complete any other forms in relation to your personal, residential and financial circumstances; and
  • provide us with sufficient documentation to prove your identity.  For more information refer to Factsheet DVA06 Proof of Identity Requirements; and
  • provide us with your tax file number.

To apply for the age pension contact your nearest DVA office, where an application form will be tailored to suit your circumstances.

Rates of age pension

There are two different rates of age pension:

  • a singles rate — payable to single pensioners, widows, and widowers; and
  • a couples rate — payable to each member of a couple where the couple is  living together, whether legally married or living in a de facto relationship.

If only one member of a couple receives an age pension, the couples rate of pension is paid.  If a couple needs to live apart because of ill-health or during a period of respite care, each member of the couple may be paid at the singles rate.

Income and assets tests

The amount of age pension you receive depends on your income and assets.  The pension is calculated under two separate tests, the income test and the assets test.  The test paying the lower rate of pension is the one that is applied.

Factsheets IS87 Income Test Overview and IS88 Assets Test Overview provide information on how the rate of age pension is calculated using the income and assets tests.  They also provide information on how your pension will be affected if you give away your income or assets.

What is the work bonus?

The work bonus is an incentive to encourage older pensioners who are able, to continue working.  Under the work bonus rules, the first $300 of work bonus income earned per fortnight is excluded from the income test.

Example:  A work bonus eligible pensioner receives wages of $600 per fortnight. When their income is calculated for the income test, the first $300 is disregarded, so the assessable wages income is the remaining $300.

Additionally, a work bonus bank allows eligible pensioners to accrue any unused amounts of the $300 fortnightly exemption to a maximum of $7,800.  Any credit in this ‘bank’ can then be used to offset employment income that would otherwise be assessable in the future.

To be eligible you must be over qualifying age/pension age (refer to the section titled ‘What is pension age?’ in this Factsheet).  For more information on Work Bonus refer to Factsheet IS99 Work Bonus.

Disability pension

The disability pension you receive is income for social security purposes.

However, if your pension is reduced or not payable because of disability pension paid to you or your partner, you may be entitled to Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA).

For more information refer to Factsheet IS19 Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA).

What if I have too much income or too many assets?

If you have a high level of income or assets that prevents you from receiving the age pension, you may be able to receive age pension through the Pension Loans Scheme.  For more information refer to Factsheet IS116 Pension Loans Scheme.

If your income is within the limits that would allow you to receive payment of the age pension, but your assets exceed the cut-off limit, you may qualify under the hardship provisions.  For more information refer to Factsheet IS117 Hardship.

If you are not receiving an age pension and your income is within the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income limits, you may be eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.  For more information refer to Factsheet IS126 Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

Tax file number

You need to provide your tax file number to DVA.  If you do not have a tax file number and are not eligible for an exemption you will need to apply for a tax file number through the Australian Taxation Office.

Pension Supplement & Allowances

There are a number of allowances payable to eligible pensioners:

  • pension supplement — payable to all age pensioners, to help with the cost of prescriptions, rates, telephone and internet connections, energy, water and sewerage
  • rent assistance — payable as part of the pension to age pensioners who pay private rent for their accommodation, subject to minimum rent limits
  • remote area allowance — payable as part of the pension to age pensioners who live in designated remote areas of Australia
  • child-related payments — paid by Centrelink to age pensioners with dependent children.

What happens when my claim is decided?

DVA will work out if you are eligible for payment and how much age pension you will be receiving, depending on your income and assets.  When a decision has been made you will be notified by letter.  This will include the date of grant and amount of age pension you will receive.  Your Pensioner Concession Card will be issued at the same time.

What if I am not happy with the decision?

If your claim for an age pension is not approved, or you are not happy with the rate of the age pension, you can contact the DVA office and talk about it.  We can check that all the facts have been considered and tell you why a decision was made.

If you still disagree, you can contact an Authorised Review Officer (ARO) who can:

  • take a fresh look at the case;
  • change the decision if it is incorrect;
  • tell you how you can appeal if you still disagree; and
  • tell you how you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Remember, if you do not ask for the decision to be reviewed within 13 weeks of being told about it, you can only get back payments from the date you ask for the decision to be reviewed.

Pensioner Concession Card

All age pensioners receive a Pensioner Concession Card.  This card entitles pensioners to a range of Australian Government, State and local government benefits and concessions.  These concessions vary from State to State, and are determined by the authorities providing the concessions.

Is my age pension taxable?

Basic age pension is considered to be income for taxation purposes and is therefore taxable.  If your pension is taxable, you will receive a payment summary from DVA at the end of each financial year.  Generally speaking, if the age pension is the only income you receive, you will not have to lodge a tax return.

Age pension allowances are not taxable payments.  Disability pension and allowances and war widow’s or widower’s pension are not taxable payments.

Obligations

When you are granted an age pension and periodically after that, you will be notified of your obligations.  You will be required to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) of any event or changes to your circumstances that might affect the rate of age pension you receive or your eligibility to receive that pension.  If you become aware that you have received or are to receive a compensation payment you will be required to tell us within 7 days.  These obligations apply equally to trustees.

You need to tell DVA within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) if:

  • your residential situation changes;
  • your marital situation changes;
  • you receive the maximum rate pension and your income exceeds the income free area and/or your assets exceed the assets value limit;
  • you receive a reduced rate pension and your income and/or assets exceed the limits stated in our most recent letter to you about your age pension;
  • you move or travel overseas; or
  • there is any other change that would affect the rate of your age pension.

There may be penalties applied in respect of failure to fulfil obligations.  In addition any overpayment caused by a person’s failure to fulfil obligations within the prescribed period are considered recoverable and a penalty interest may be applied.

Can I apply for an increase in my age pension?

If you receive a reduced rate pension, you may apply for an increase in your rate of pension at any time there is a change in your circumstances.  You can do this by contacting us by phone, in writing, or in person.

Can I receive my age pension overseas?

Yes.  In most circumstances payment of your age pension will continue while you are overseas.  However, you must notify DVA of your intention to travel, even if you are going overseas for a short period.  We will assess your eligibility for continued payment prior to your departure.

Arranging my affairs

It is advisable to keep all your important papers, such as wills, birth certificates, and mortgage papers, in a safe place known to family and friends.  A folder containing information to assist you in arranging your affairs, called Planning Ahead — A Guide to Putting Your Affairs in Order, is available from DVA or ex-service organisations such as the R&SL or Legacy.

Bereavement payments

Additional financial assistance, in the form of a bereavement payment and/or a funeral benefit, may be provided to the surviving partner or to a pensioner’s estate immediately after the death of a pensioner, or to the parent(s) in respect of the death of a dependent child.

Freedom of information

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 you may seek access to documents held by DVA, including information about yourself.  This means that you can look at any of the files relating to you held by DVA and ask for copies of documents.

You need to apply in writing and there is an application fee of $30.00.  However, the fee does not apply if the documents you need relate to claims for, or increases in, your pension.  The Form D8601 Freedom of Information Application is available at DVA offices and on our website.

Privacy and Confidentiality

The Privacy Act 1988 governs the collection and handling of personal information by Australia Government agencies, including DVA, and the process is overseen by the Privacy Commissioner to ensure the rights of individuals are protected.

Under confidentiality rules which apply to age pensioners, your personal information is treated as confidential, and it may only be released to your partner or a third party with your consent.

More Information

DVA General Enquiries

Phone: 1800 555 254 *

Email: GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au

DVA Website: www.dva.gov.au

Factsheet Website: www.dva.gov.au/factsheets

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.

Related Factsheets

Related Forms

Disclaimer

The information contained in this Factsheet is general in nature and does not take into account individual circumstances.  You should not make important decisions, such as those that affect your financial or lifestyle position on the basis of information contained in this Factsheet.  Where you are required to lodge a written claim for a benefit, you must take full responsibility for your decisions prior to the written claim being determined.  You should seek confirmation in writing of any oral advice you receive from DVA.

 

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20 September 2019