What to tell us if you get the social security age pension

Last updated: 
1 July 2020

This page explains the sort of events or changes in circumstances people who are paid age pension by DVA need to tell us about in case their entitlements are affected. The need to tell DVA about these events or changes in circumstances is commonly referred to as ‘obligations’. This page is not exhaustive. For more information about your obligations please refer to ‘You and Your Pension’.

What are obligations and to whom do they apply?

The social security law requires that age and wife pension recipients and claimants be notified of their obligations in relation to their pension or benefit. These obligations require you to advise DVA within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) of any event or change of circumstance that might affect your rate of pension or your eligibility to receive that pension. If you become aware that you have received or are to receive a compensation payment you are required to tell us within 7 days. It is important for DVA to be kept advised of a person’s circumstances to make sure the right rate of payment is made, from the right date.

The obligations apply to:

  • age  pensioners;
  • agents and trustees of age and wife pensioners;
  • age pension claimants;
  • people who have requested reviews of age pension either by the Authorised Review Officer, or by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal; and
  • people in receipt of fringe benefits.

When you are granted an income support pension, and periodically after that, you will be notified of your obligations. These obligations apply equally to trustees.

Usually an overpayment of pension will not occur when you have met your obligations. However, sometimes even if you have met your obligations, an overpayment can occur because we have not been able to process the change before the next payday. We do our best to avoid this occurring, but it is not always possible. To provide you with your exact entitlement we are obliged to recover overpayments of pension where they do occur.

Changes to Personal Circumstances - Obligations

Changes in your personal circumstances can affect your eligibility for pension and your rate of pension.

The sorts of things you would need to tell us about within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) are if:

  • you marry or remarry;
  • you enter a de facto relationship;
  • you separate from your partner either because of illness or other reasons;
  • you and your partner divorce;
  • your partner dies;
  • the person for whom you are a trustee or carer dies; or
  • you plan to travel overseas for any period.

If you receive a child related allowance, you would need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) if the child or student:

  • leaves your care;
  • stops being a student;
  • starts receiving payments under an education scheme; or
  • stops being dependent on you.

Changes to Residential Circumstances - Obligations

Changes in your residential circumstances can affect the amount of your pension.

If you own your home (including a caravan, mobile home or houseboat), the sorts of things you would need to tell us about within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) are if:

  • you sell your home;
  • you start to pay rent for other accommodation;
  • you leave your home for any reason to live elsewhere;
  • you rent or sub-let all or part of your home;
  • you take in boarders or lodgers;
  • you transfer the title of your home to someone else; or
  • you leave your home for any period exceeding 12 months.

If you live in a retirement village, the sorts of things you would need to tell us about within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) are if:

  • you intend leaving the retirement village for more than 12 months;
  • you move from one type of accommodation to another within the retirement village (for example, from a self care unit to hostel or nursing home facilities);
  • you sign a new agreement or contract in the retirement village; or
  • there are any changes to the service fees you pay.

If you pay rent for your accommodation, the sorts of things you would need to tell us about within 14 days are if:

  • the amount of rent you pay changes;
  • you stop paying rent;
  • you start paying rent to a government housing authority;
  • you move into a retirement village or other accommodation;
  • you enter respite care; or
  • you leave Australia temporarily or permanently.

If you receive remote area allowance, the sorts of things you would need to tell us about within 14 days are if:

  • you are away from your permanent address for more than 8 weeks;
  • you move; or
  • you go overseas.

Changes to Financial Circumstances - Obligations

Changes in your financial circumstances may affect the amount of pension you receive.

If you receive the maximum rate of pension, the sorts of things you would need to tell us about within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) are if:

  • your total income from all sources exceeds the income free area (refer to Income test) by more than $2.00 for singles or $4.00 for couples per fortnight;
  • your total financial assets exceed $252,800.00 if you are single or $401,500.00 combined for couples, and you have no other direct income such as superannuation; or
  • you give away $10,000 or more (singles or members of couples) in a financial year or $30,000 or more in a rolling 5 year period. For more information refer to Giving Away Income or Assets.

If you receive a reduced rate of pension, the sorts of things you would need to tell us about within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) are if:

  • your total income from all sources increases or decreases by more than $2.00 for singles or $4.00 for couples per fortnight;
  • your assets increase above your prescribed asset amount (you will find this in our last letter to you); or
  • you give away $10,000 or more in a financial year or $30,000 or more in a rolling 5 year period (singles or members of couples). For more information refer to Giving Away Income or Assets.

*Note: - If your pension is assets tested and you give away assets equal to or less than either limit, your pension may increase. It is in your interests to advise us of any gifts in excess of $500.

If you receive a reduced rate of pension and your only source of income is from bank, building society or credit union accounts, the sorts of things you would need to tell us about within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas) are if:

  • your total bank, building society or credit union balances change by more than $20,800 if you are single and have financial assets of less than $53,000;
  • your total bank, building society or credit union balances change by more than $2,311 if you are single and have financial assets of more than $53,000;
  • your total bank, building society or credit union balances change by more than $41,600 if you are a couple with financial assets of less than $88,000; or
  • your total bank, building society or credit union balances increase by more than $4,622 if you are a couple with financial assets of more than $88,000.