To qualify for the Age Pension there are age, residence and income requirements you must satisfy.
The Age Pension is a scheme which pays out a steady income to eligible Australians to help them cope with the costs of living when they're retired. If you're eligible, you can receive up to $926.20 a fortnight from the government as part of the Age Pension or $1,396.20 a fortnight for couples. However, not everyone is eligible to receive the Age Pension: it depends on how much you earn and the value of your assets and investments. We'll outline the income limits and age requirements in this guide.
If you're not eligible for the Age Pension, we've listed a few other ways to generate extra income in retirement at the end of this guide.
How much can I receive through the Age Pension?
If you're eligible for the Age Pension, the amount you'll receive will depend on whether you're single or a couple, the amount of income you earn and the value of your assets (such as property, investments and cars). Below is the maximum amount you can receive from the Age Pension, assuming you have very limited income and own hardly any assets outside of your home.
|Status||Maximum basic rate per fortnight|
|Single||Up to $926.20|
|Couple||Up to $698.10 each or $1,396.20 combined|
|Couple separated by illness||Up to $926.20|
Eligibility requirements for Age Pension
Below are the eligibility requirements anyone seeking the Age Pension needs to satisfy.
At what age can I get the Age Pension?
To be eligible for the age pension you must be 65 years or older. The qualifying age will gradually increase by 6 months every 2 years, to 67 years by 1 July 2023. Therefore, the age you'll be eligible to apply for the Age Pension will depend on the date you were born, as shown in the table below.
|If your birth date is||You'll qualify for age pension at age|
|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|
|From 1 January 1957||67 years|
*Table taken from the Department of Human Services
Residence requirements for the Age Pension
In addition to the age requirements you also have to meet residence requirements in order to be eligible for the Age Pension, which currently are:
- You must be an Australian resident and physically present in Australia on the day you submit your claim,
- You must have lived in Australia for at least 10 years, and
- Of those 10 years that you've lived in Australia, there should be at least 1 period where you have lived in Australia continuously for 5 years.
There are exceptions to this rule if you're a refugee or receiving a widow allowance.
Citizenship requirements for the Age Pension
If you're an Australian citizen and have been living in Australia then you might be eligible for the Age Pension. Australia also includes Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island.
Income requirements for the Age Pension
Here's how much you can earn before you're no longer eligible for the Age Pension at all. There are different income cut-off points that apply depending on whether you're single, married, disabled, if you own your home, etc. This income test applies to the following pensions:
- Age Pension
- Wife Pension
- Widow B Pension
- Bereavement Allowance
- Carer Payment
- Disability Support Pension
The maximum amount you can earn to be eligible for the Age Pension
If you earn enough income you won't be eligible to receive the Age Pension. 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 part of the pension.
|If you're||You won't receive any Age Pension once your income reaches|
|Single||$2,024.40 per fortnight|
|Couple living together (combined income)||$3,096.40 per fortnight|
|Couple living separately because of health reasons (combined income)||$4,008.80 per fortnight|
Figures correct as of November 2018
If your income is below the above limits, then the amount of pension you're eligible to receive will also depend on your income as outlined in the table below.
|Earning (per fortnight)||Earning (per fortnight)|
|Single||$172 or less||More than $172|
|Reduction in Age Pension payments||You're eligible to receive the full Age Pension||Your Age Pension payments will be reduced by 50 cents for each dollar over $172|
|Earning (combined income per fortnight)||Earning (combined income per fortnight)|
|Couples (including couples living separately due to illness)||$304 or less||More than $304|
|Reduction in Age Pension payments||You're eligible to receive the full Age Pension||Your Age Pension payments will be reduced by 50 cents for each dollar over $304|
Asset requirements for the Age Pension
There are limits to the amount of assets you can own (and the value of these assets) to be eligible for the Age Pension. Assets include cash, gifts, real estate, investments, businesses, farms, vehicles, boats, jewellery, life insurance policies and more.
What are some assets excluded from the test?
- Your principal home (generally up to two hectares)
- All Australian superannuation not drawn down (however, only up until pension age)
- Property or money left to you in an estate which you're not able to receive, generally for a period of up to 12 months
This is how much your assets can be worth to be eligible for the full Age Pension
If your assets are worth less than these limits (the limits are different for homeowners and non-homeowners), you'll be eligible for the full Age Pension (provided you meet the other eligibility criteria in this guide). You can still earn part of the Age Pension if your assets are worth more than these limits listed above. Your pension will be reduced by $3 per fortnight for every $1,000 of assets you have over these limits.
|Family situation||Limit for homeowners to receive the full Age Pension||Limit for non-homeowners to receive the full Age Pension|
|Couple separated by illness (combined)||$387,500||$594,500|
|One partner eligible (combined assets)||$387,500||$594,500|
*Figures as of 10th Oct 2016
How do I apply for the Age Pension?
If you’re eligible for the Age Pension or part of the Age Pension, you can apply online by following these steps:
- Create a myGov account online and link this to Centrelink (if you already have a myGov account, just log in).
- Navigate to "Centrelink", then "Make a claim", then "Start a new claim".
- Complete the claim form online. You'll need to supply details such as your tax file number, superannuation fund details, pay slips or tax returns and any investments you have.
- You'll be notified if your claim was successful or not.
If you can't apply online you can visit your nearest Centrelink office instead.
Compare transaction accounts to receive the Age Pension into
One of the ways to receive your Age Pension is directly to your bank account. From here you can access your pension to pay for groceries, bills and any other expenses you may have. If you don’t yet have a transaction account and would like one to receive your Age Pension, or if you want to open a separate account to receive your pension to keep you pension payments separate from your other income, you can compare transaction accounts below.
Here are some options if you don't qualify for the Age Pension
The Age Pension is designed to help support Australians who are unable to support themselves through retirement with their savings and super alone. It's a bit of a safety net supplied by the government for those who need it, but it certainly isn't available for all Australians. If you're not eligible to receive the Age Pension, here's a few alternative ways to grow your income and access finance in retirement:
High interest savings account
If you're not eligible for the Age Pension, chances are it's because you earn too much already and don't need the extra support from the government. Consider putting your money in a high interest savings account or term deposit and earning interest on your funds while you're not using them. A savings account is a great low-risk investment option in retirement. Compare high interest savings accounts here.
Buy some shares
Another option is putting a portion of your money to work in the share market. By investing in companies that pay large, fully franked dividends you could create a mini income stream from these dividend payments in place of the Age Pension. Learn more about share trading and compare online share trading accounts here.
If you're not eligible to receive the pension and find yourself in need of some extra money, there are some loans available that are tailored to pensioners. These can include small loans of under $1,200 through the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS), low documentation loans and other options. These are explained in more depth in our pensioner loans guide.
Get a part-time job or casual position
You can keep working well into your retirement and aren't forced to leave the workforce on your 65th birthday. Getting a part-time job is a great way to create another income stream, plus it also comes with many social and physical benefits. If you want to know more about returning to work after retirement, check out our guide here.