Age Pension Eligibility

Australian Age Pension Eligibility Requirements

Information verified correct on July 1st, 2015

To qualify for the Age Pension, there are age and residence requirements that you must satisfy.

Getting older usually brings with it plenty of life changes. For many Australians, one of the major lifestyle changes which comes with becoming a senior is that you may need to apply for and live off of the pension.

The Age Pension is a scheme which pays out a steady income to eligible Australians, or in the case of those with a larger amount of money, a supplement to help them cope with the costs of living. All the monies that are paid out under this scheme come from different types of tax collections and are the sole responsibility of the Australian government. As with most government payments, it has eligibility requirements and a process which must be followed in order to start receiving payments.

If you are in need of finance, please check our guide to loans for pensioners and seniors

How much pension will you receive?

Please note that finder.com.au is not affiliated with the Department of Human Services or Centrelink. If you would like an indication of pension rates, please use this calculator.

Eligibility requirements for Age Pension

Below are the eligibility requirements that anyone seeking the Age Pension needs to satisfy.

Age requirements for the Age Pension

The age requirements for the Age Pension differ depending on whether you’re a female or male and when you were born and will increase on 1 July 2017 to a qualifying age of 65 and a half years. After this, the age will increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 by 1 July 2023. To find out the age requirements for the Age Pension read the table below.

Born Years of age - Women Years of age - Men
1 Jul 1947 - 31 Dec 1948 64.5 65
1 Jan 1949 - 30 Jun 1952 65 65
1 Jul 1952 - 31 Dec 1953 65.5 65.5
1 Jan 1954 - 30 Jun 1955 66 66
1 Jan 1954 - 30 Jun 1955 66 66
1 Jul 1955 - 31 Dec 1956 66.5 66.5
After 1 Jan 1957 67 67

*Table taken from the Department of Human Services

Residence requirements

In addition to the age requirements, you also have to meet residence requirements in order to be eligible for payments for the age pension, which currently are;

  • Citizenship. If you are an Australian citizen and have been residing in Australia then you can be eligible for the age pension. New Zealand citizens may also be eligible for age pension in Australia as long as they were in Australia on the date 26th February 2001, or were living in the country for at least one year in the two years before this qualifying date. People who have been living in Australia under a permanent residence visa may also be eligible for age pension.
  • 10 year residence requirements. This requirement has to be met by any person who wants to receive an age pension. The 10 year qualifying residence requirement states that you have to be living in the country continuously for a period of 10 years. If you have lived in Australia on and off, then the total of all such periods of residence must be equal to or more than 10 years. Within these smaller periods, there should be at least one period where you have lived in Australia continuously for five years.

Income test requirements

There's also an income test the Government will carry out to assess whether or not you're eligible for the Age Pension. The income test will apply to the following payments and family situations:

  • Age Pension
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow B Pension
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Carer Payment
  • Disability Support Pension

You will be exempt from the income test if you are permanently blind and receive Age Pension or Disability Support Pension and you also do not receive rent assistance.

There are different income cut-off points that apply depending on whether you are single, married, disabled, if you have any dependents, etc.

If you earn enough income your payment is reduced to $0. Take a look at the table below to see what the cut-off point is for your family situation. If you earn below the amount set for your situation you may be eligible for the pension.

Please be aware your payment eligibility will depend on your specific circumstances and this table should just be used as a guide.

Your family situation Maximum you can earn per fortnight
Single $1,810.20
Couple (combined) $2,769.60
Illness separated (couple combined) $3,584.40
Transitional rate pensioners - Single $1,907.25
Transitional rate pensioners - Couple (combined) $3,100.50
Transitional rate pensioners - Illness separated (couple combined) $3,778.50

Figures as of 6th February 2014

If your income is below these limits, then the amount of pension you are eligible to receive will also depend on your income. Check the Human Services website to see up to date information on what you are eligible for.

Asset requirements

There are limits to the amount of assets you can own when receiving the Age Pension. Like the income tests mentioned above, the limit of assets you can own depends on your status, including if you're single, a couple, a couple separated by illness, or a couple where only one partner is eligible for the pension.

In fact, for every $1000 your asset is worth over the limit, your pension will be reduced by $1.50 per fortnight. Assets include cash, gifts, real estate, businesses, farms, vehicles, life insurance policies and more.

Limits are updated each year in January, March and September, so be sure to visit the Department of Human Services for current information.

The following tables outline the asset test limits for allowances, full pensions and past pensions. This table should only be used as a guide and for up to date asset test limits you should visit the Human Services website.

For allowances and full pensions the asset tests are the following:

Family situation Limit for Homeowners Limit for non-homeowners
Single $196,750 $339,250
Couple (combined) $279,000 $421,500
Illness separated (couple combined) $279,000 $421,500
One partner eligible (combined assets) $279,000 $421,500

*Figures as of 6th February 2014

For part pensions your assets must be less than the following:

Family situation For homeowners For non-homeowners
Single $784,250 $890,750
Couple (combined) $1,110,500 $1,253,000
Illness separated (couple combined) $1,382,000 $1,524,500
One partner eligible $1,110,500 $1,253,000

*Figures as of 6th February 2014

If you are a transitional homeowner your assets will need to be less than the following:

Family situation For homeowners For non-homeowners
Single $663,750 $806,250
Couple (combined) $1,032,500 $1,175,000
Illness separated (couple combined) $1,213,000 $1,355,500
One partner eligible (combined assets) $1,032,500 $1,175,000

*Figures as of 6th February 2014

How to apply for the Age Pension

If you’re eligible for the Age Pension, you can apply; however, the rate at which you will be paid the pension will be determined by the assets that you own as well as the income that you are earning. Hence, the results of your income and assets test are vital to the rate of Age Pension you will receive.

  • Income test for age pension in Australia. If you are a single person and your income from all sources is equal to or less than $156 every fortnight, then you will be eligible to receive the full age pension from the government. However, if your income exceeds this limit, you will not get the full rate of age pension but can receive part pension. The minimum income requirements for a couple are lower than for single people. Hence, if you are living as a couple, you should be earning a combined income of less than $276 every fortnight in order to receive full rate of age pension.
  • Assets test for age pension in Australia. Apart from the income test, the asset test will also determine the rate at which your age pension will be paid. If you are a single person and you own a home in Australia, then your total asset value should be lower than $196,750 in order to qualify for the full rate of payment of age pension. If you do not own a home, your asset value should be lower than $339,250. This amount differs for a couple and also depends on whether you own a home or not.

Can I get the Age Pension while living overseas?

Australia is an expensive country, so it's easy to see why many Australians reaching pension age or already receiving a pension may consider countries with cheaper living costs such as Thailand or Bali.

If you've already been receiving the Age Pension for greater than two years while in Australia you can move overseas and receive the pension. The amount you'll receive depends on how long you'll stay overseas and how long you lived in Australia since being 16.

Living overseas for greater than 26 weeks will see your pension reduced to an amount in proportion to the number of years you were an Australian resident once over the age of 16. If you've lived in Australia for greater than 25 years you'll receive the full amount.

If you've lived in Australia for less than 25 years you'll receive an amount in proportion to the years as a resident.

If you've come back to Australia and have started receiving the Age Pension in the last two years you won't be able to receive the Age Pension overseas. In these cases you must live in Australia for at least two years since your last arrival for residence.

Remember too that countries like Austria, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Greece, Italy and the USA have social security agreements which will in some cases continue your payments, so be sure to check on the Department of Human Services for more information regarding this.

Did you know?

Remember, those who are blind and have reached the minimum age for age pension, may not be required to fulfil any asset or income requirements in order to get the Age Pension.

Age Pension benefits at a glance

Recipients of the Age Pension receive different amounts depending on whether or not they’re single, a couple or a couple separated due to illness.

The payment rates are as follows:

Status Maximum basic rate per fortnight
Single $733.70
Couple $553.10 each or $1,106.20 combined
Couple separated by illness $733.70 each

Transaction accounts and the Age Pension

One of the ways to receive your Age Pension is directly to your bank account. This will involve the Department of Human Services paying your pension into what’s usually your transaction account. From here you can access your pension to pay for groceries, medical expenses and any other expenses you may have.

How to compare transaction accounts

If you don’t yet have a transaction account and would like one to receive your Age Pension, or if you have one already and want to ensure it’ll provide you with the features you need when receiving the Age Pension, consider the following points:

What interest rate does it earn?

Most transaction accounts will earn little interest, but some have higher interest earning capabilities. Decide whether or not you want your transaction account to earn interest or you might also want to consider opening a savings account.

What are the monthly fees you’ll pay?

Some transaction accounts will charge a monthly fee which they’ll waive if enough money is deposited into the account each month. For most accounts, this threshold is $2,000, but be sure to check with any accounts you’re interested in. There are also accounts with no monthly fees whatsoever, regardless of the amount which is deposited into it.

How can I access my money?

Most transaction accounts can allow access through the internet and over the telephone, but some transaction accounts are offered by online providers, meaning they might not have large branch networks. If you like to do your banking in person, this might be an important consideration. If you regularly withdraw money from the ATM, you might want to ensure that the institution you have an account with has a number of ATMs near your home, so you can avoid fees.

You can compare a selection of transaction accounts below.

Transaction account comparison

Rates last updated July 1st, 2015
Maximum Variable Rate p.a. Standard Variable Rate p.a. Bonus Interest p.a. Fees Min Bal / Min Deposit
Citibank Plus Everyday Account
Enjoy international money transfers from Australia to any account, anywhere in the world. No monthly fees, no ATM fees.
0.00% 0.00% 0.00% $0 $0 / $0 Open More
ING DIRECT Orange Everyday Account
A transaction account with no monthly fees, plus 2% cashback offer available.
0.00% 0.00% 0.00% $0 $0 / $0 Open More
ANZ Access Advantage
Enjoy unlimited transactions using ANZ ATMs and ANZ phone & internet banking.
0.00% 0.00% 0.00% $5 $0 / $0 Open More
HSBC Day to Day Transaction Account
Enjoy no monthly account keeping fees and a Visa debit card to access your money.
0.00% 0.00% 0.00% $0 $0 / $0 Open More
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
Earn Qantas Points for your daily balance and eligible purchases, plus access to Australia's largest bank ATM network.
0.01% 0.01% $6 $0 / $0 Open More
Bankwest Easy Transaction Account
No monthly account fees when you deposit at least $2000 per month (e.g. salary). Plus $0 ATM fees at all major bank ATMs Australia wide. Fees, T&C's apply.
0.00% 0.00% $6 $0 / $0 Open More
Westpac Choice
Access funds through a Debit MasterCard and enjoy 24/7 online and mobile banking.
0.00% 0.00% $5 $0 / $0 Open More
QT Mutual Bank Everyday Account
Get a $50 cash back when you open an account before 31 July 2015. First 100 customers.
0.00% 0.00% $6 $2,000 / Open More
BankSA Complete Freedom Account
Free unlimited transactions, plus linked Visa debit card.
0.00% 0.00% 0.00% $5 $1 / $1 Open More
St.George Complete Freedom Account
Flexible bank account with Visa Debit card and SMS and email alert system.
0.00% 0.00% 0.00% $5 $0 / $1 Open More
St.George SENSE
A transaction account and savings account in one.
1.95% 1.95% 0.00% $5 $0 / $0 More
BankSA Express Freedom Account
A low fee transaction account with Visa debit card.
0.00% 0.00% 0.00% $3 $0 / $1 Open More
Bank of Melbourne Complete Freedom Transaction Bank Account
Free unlimited everyday transactions at Bank of Melbourne branches and Westpac Group ATMs.
0.00% 0.00% $5 $0 / $1 Open More
Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom Transaction Bank Account
Free unlimited everyday banking transactions, and the flexibility of a Visa Debit Card.
0.00% 0.00% $3 $0 / $1 Open More
BankSA Sense Everyday Account
A combined savings and transaction account with debit card and interest earning.
1.95% 1.95% $5 $1 / $1 Open More

Pension loans

Regular mainstream loans aren’t necessarily available to pensioners. This is because lenders are concerned that a pensioner’s advanced age and increased likelihood of sickness and inability to work may mean they are unable to repay their debts.

There are still ways for pensioners to obtain loans for different purposes. These can include small loans of under $1200 through the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS), low documentation loans and other options and are explained in more depth in our pensioner loans guide.

The Age pension is one resource older Australians can make use of when they retire. Finding out if you’re eligible for the pension is the first step to financially securing the beginning of your later years, so ensure you find out if you’re able to make use of the pension.

 

Do you have a question about eligibility for the aged pension?

If you have a specific question about your eligibility for the Aged Pension you will need to speak with the Australian Government Department of Human Services.

Here are some useful links:

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