- Age rules
- Residency rules
- Means tests
- Age pension rates
- What happens if only one member of a couple is eligible for the Age Pension?
- How do I apply for the Age Pension?
- Eligibility for rent assistance
- Letting Centrelink know about changes in your circumstances
- The bottom line
Your eligibility for the Australian Age Pension depends upon your age, residency and whether you pass what is known as the “means test”.
The Age Pension is one of the ‘three pillars of retirement income’ in Australia – along with superannuation and private savings. It plays a critical role in retirement income for many. In 2018, around 66% of Australians over the Age Pension eligibility age received this government payment, with 41% on the full pension and 25% on a part-pension.
The first requirement that you must satisfy to be eligible for the Age Pension is reaching the minimum age. It is currently 65 years and 6 months for both men and women. However, this age is progressively increasing over the next four to five years, depending on your date of birth. By 1 July 2023, the pension age will be 67 years for everyone, as outlined in the table below.
|Date of birth||Pension age||Date pension age changes|
|Born between 1 January 1954 and 30 June 1955||66 years||1 July 2019|
|Born between 1 July 1955 and 31 December 1956||66 years and 6 months||1 July 2021|
|Born from 1 January 1957 onwards||67 years||1 July 2023|
Source: Department of Social Services
What is your Age Pension (and Preservation) age?
The tool below can help you calculate your Age Pension age. All you need to do is enter your date of birth.
This tool also calculates your preservation age (which is the age you can access your super if you meet a condition of release, such as retiring or turning 65 years of age). Like the Age Pension eligibility age, your preservation age depends on your date of birth.
Your date of birth:
|wdt_ID||Year||Month||Day||Birthdate||Gender||Preservation age||Date reaches Preservation age||Age Pension age||Date reaches Age Pension age|
|1||1927||January||1||1 January 1927||Female||55||01/01/1982||60.0||01/01/1987|
|2||1927||January||2||2 January 1927||Female||55||02/01/1982||60.0||02/01/1987|
|3||1927||January||3||3 January 1927||Female||55||03/01/1982||60.0||03/01/1987|
|4||1927||January||4||4 January 1927||Female||55||04/01/1982||60.0||04/01/1987|
|5||1927||January||5||5 January 1927||Female||55||05/01/1982||60.0||05/01/1987|
|6||1927||January||6||6 January 1927||Female||55||06/01/1982||60.0||06/01/1987|
|7||1927||January||7||7 January 1927||Female||55||07/01/1982||60.0||07/01/1987|
|8||1927||January||8||8 January 1927||Female||55||08/01/1982||60.0||08/01/1987|
|9||1927||January||9||9 January 1927||Female||55||09/01/1982||60.0||09/01/1987|
|10||1927||January||10||10 January 1927||Female||55||10/01/1982||60.0||10/01/1987|
Learn more about Age Pension age
You also must be an Australian resident to qualify for the Age Pension, along with meeting at least one of the following criteria:
- You have been an Australian resident for at least ten years (and at least five of those years must have been consecutive).
- You have been a female Australian resident for the past two years and you are the widow of an Australian resident.
- You were receiving an Australian widow’s pension or allowance (or a partner allowance) immediately before you reached your pension eligibility age.
There are some limited exceptions to the above criteria. For example, Australia has an arrangement with New Zealand that their citizens who are Australian residents can receive an Australian Age Pension, provided that they also meet the age eligibility requirement and they pass the means tests.
In addition, refugees, former refugees and their family members have a qualifying residence exemption. This allows them to qualify for the Australian Age Pension if they meet all of the other eligibility requirements.
Learn more about Age Pension residency rules.
Means tests for the Age Pension include both an assets test and an income test. You need to pass both tests to be eligible for the Age Pension, and they affect how much Age Pension you’re entitled to receive.
The market value of any assets that you or your partner own will be assessed by the Department of Human Services to determine your potential eligibility for the Age Pension.
Your residential home is not included in the Age Pension assets test, but nearly all of your other assets will be, including your superannuation.
There are limits on the value of the assets you (and your partner combined) can own to be eligible for either a full or part-pension. The limits depend on whether or not you own your own home, as well as your living arrangements (including if you have a partner and whether they are age-eligible for the pension or not). These limits are outlined in the table below.
Assets limit for the full pension
|Couple separated due to illness||$387,500||$594,500|
|Couple (only one partner age-eligible)||$387,500||$594,500|
Source: Department of Human Services
Once you exceed these limits, your pension reduces by $3 per fortnight for every $1,000 of excess assets. For example, if your assets exceed your limit by $30,000, your fortnightly pension payment would decrease by $90 per fortnight (i.e. 30 x $3).
Learn more about the Age Pension assets test.
The Department of Human Services will also assess your income from all sources (including your superannuation and other investment income) to determine your eligibility for the Age Pension. It’s important to understand that they use a “deeming rate” to standardise their analysis of the likely return you’ll get from different types of investments you may have, regardless of whether you actually earn that rate or not.
Once your income reaches certain limits, the amount of your pension will start to progressively reduce, as shown in the table below, until it cuts off altogether.
|Fortnightly income limit||Amount that fortnightly pension reduces by above this limit|
|Single person||$172||50 cents for each dollar over $172|
|Couple||$304||50 cents for each dollar over $304|
Source: Department of Human Services
The work bonus
Age Pensioners can earn up to $250 per fortnight if they are still working and not have this amount included in their income test for the Age Pension. This amount is known as a “work bonus” and is due to increase to $300 per fortnight from 1 July 2019.
This amount can be accumulated up to an amount of $6,500 to offset against any future employment income that would be assessable under the income test. You don’t need to apply to have this done. The Department of Human Services will apply the work bonus to your income test.
Are the income and assets test limits combined to reduce your pension?
No. If you pass the thresholds in both your income and assets tests, your pension will not be reduced by the combined amount calculated using both tests. However, you must pass both tests and the amount of Pension you are paid is based on the lower amount from both tests.
This is best explained using an example.
Sarah is a single homeowner who is eligible for the Age Pension. She has $320,000 worth of assets. She therefore exceeds her full pension asset limit by $61,500. This reduces her fortnightly pension entitlement by $184.50 using the “$3 per $1,000 of excess assets” rule (i.e. 61.5 multiplied by $3).
Sarah also exceeds the Age Pension income test limit for a single person because she earns $200 per fortnight (after having her $250 work bonus applied to her income test). This is $28 over her limit (i.e. $200 – $172) and her pension would be reduced accordingly by $14 using the income test calculation method (i.e. 50 cents for every dollar she earns over her limit).
In Sarah’s situation, her pension will be reduced by the greater reduction that resulted from her asset test calculation. In other words, her fortnightly pension would be reduced by $184.50. The $14 reduction obtained using the income test calculation method would not be applied to her pension at all.
Age pension rates
The maximum current fortnightly pension rates for singles and couples who are eligible for the Age Pension are outlined in the table below. In addition, the amounts for Age Pensioners who also qualify for the Pension and Energy supplements is also shown.
Age pension rates (from 20 March 2019 to 19 September 2019)
|Type of payment||Single||Couple (each)||Couple combined||Couple living apart due to ill health (each)|
|Maximum basic Age Pension||$843.60||$635.90||$1,271.8||$843.60|
|Maximum pension supplement||$68.50||$51.60||$103.20||$68.50|
Source: Department of Human Services
Note that single Age Pensioners and couples living apart receive the same amount – higher than couples who are living together.
If you exceed the asset test or income test limits you may be eligible for a part Age Pension. The amount you receive progressively decreases depending on the value of your assets and income, and you receive the lower amount based on both tests.
Find out the latest Age Pension rates.
What happens if only one member of a couple is eligible for the Age Pension?
This is a common question. Does the person who is eligible receive the single rate or half of the combined couple rate?
The answer is half the combined couple rate and it’s best illustrated with an example.
Bill reached the current pension age of 65 years and 6 months in January 2018. He meets the age pension residency requirements and passed both the asset and income tests, not reaching the limits of either one. He is eligible for the maximum age pension. However, his partner Sue is only 62 and she is therefore not yet age-eligible for the age pension.
Using the age pension rate table provided above, Bill would be entitled to the maximum age pension of $635.90 for each person in a “couple” living arrangement. He would also be entitled to the maximum pension supplement of $51.60. He would not be eligible for the energy supplement, because this is only available for people that had a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card prior to 20 September 2016.
How do I apply for the Age Pension?
When you apply for the Age Pension claim you’re joining a long queue, and making mistakes can cause a lot of delays and frustration. Follow our step-by-step guide to applying for the Age Pension and get it right the first time.
Eligibility for rent assistance
If you’re an Age Pensioner you may also be eligible for rent assistance. How much rent assistance you can get depends on your living arrangements (including whether or not you have any dependent children), as well as how much rent you actually pay.
Current rates are outlined in the table below.
|Living arrangement||Minimum fortnightly rent to be eligible||Fortnightly rent to be eligible for the maximum rent assistance||Maximum rent assistance amount|
|Single person sharing||$121.20||$241.91||$90.53|
|Couple separated due to illness||$121.20||$302.27||$135.80|
|Couple temporarily separated||$121.20||$291.87||$128|
Source: Department of Human Services
If you’re receiving the Age Pension, you must let Centrelink know about any changes to your circumstances that could affect your entitlements within 14 days.
These changes could include:
- Income changes (either your own or your partner’s)
- Asset changes (either your own or your partner’s)
- If your living arrangements change (e.g. you stop living with your partner)
- If your partner dies
- If you marry or start living with a partner.
Failure to notify Centrelink of these changes could result in you being overpaid. If you are, you’ll be required to repay the money, including interest.
Your eligibility for the Age Pension depends on your age, residency and whether you pass the assets and income tests. The amount of Age Pension you’re entitled to also depends on your living arrangements. If you’re receiving an Age Pension, you must keep Centrelink informed of any changes to your financial circumstances or to your living arrangements.
The information contained in this article is general in nature.