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Australian Age Pension eligibility: A complete guide

To qualify for the Age Pension there are age, residency and income requirements you must satisfy. If you're eligible, you can receive up to $1,096 per fortnight as an individual or $1,653 per fortnight for couples (combined).

The Age Pension is a government payment scheme that provides a steady income for eligible Australians to help them cover living costs when they retire. Not everyone is eligible to receive the Age Pension, it depends on how much you earn and the value of your assets and investments.

Are you eligible for the Age Pension?

To be eligible for the Age Pension, you need to meet 4 criteria: age, residence, income and asset requirements.

  • Age requirements: Your qualifying age for the pension varies depending on your birth year. We break this down in detail below.
  • Residence requirements: A minimum of 10 years of Australian residency is generally required.
  • Income test: Your income levels determine the pension amount you can receive.
  • Asset test: The value of your assets impacts your eligibility and pension rate.

Age requirements

The government sets specific age criteria based on your date of birth, which dictates when you can start receiving pension benefits. This is referred to as your "Qualifying Age" and it might differ from your actual retirement age.

Here's a breakdown of the qualifying ages:

Birth datesQualifying age
1 July 1952 to 31 December 195365.5 years
1 January 1954 to 30 June 195566 years
1 July 1955 and 31 December 195666.5 years
On or after 1 January 195767 years

You'll need to plan your application around these qualifying age requirements. You can start your application up to 13 weeks before you reach your qualifying age.

Residency requirements for the Age Pension

Meeting the residency requirements is also important for the Age Pension. You'll need to have a solid history of living in Australia. It's all about showing that you've really made Australia your home.

Here's an overview of the residency requirements:

    1. Minimum residency duration: Usually, you need to have lived in Australia for at least 10 years in total to qualify for the Age Pension. This doesn't have to be 10 years straight, but you should have at least 1 stretch of 5 years living continuously in Australia.
    2. Residency status on application: When you apply for the Age Pension, you should be living in Australia and be an Australian resident.
    3. Special circumstances:
      • Refugees and exemptions: Refugees or individuals under similar special circumstances may be exempt from the standard 10-year requirement.
      • International agreements: If you have lived or worked in a country that has a social security agreement with Australia, different rules might apply. These agreements often allow for periods of residence or contributions to social security in these countries to count towards meeting the Australian residency requirements.
    4. Ongoing residency: Post-application, maintaining your residency status is also important. There may be implications for your
      Age Pension if you decide to leave Australia temporarily or move permanently after commencing your pension.

It's a good idea to get your head around these residency rules when you're thinking about your Age Pension. Check out how your time living or working abroad might play into your eligibility. A quick look at the Services Australia website or a chat with a professional can really help clear things up and guide you through these requirements.

Income requirements for the Age Pension

To be eligible for the Australian Age Pension, your income should stay within set limits. The income test takes a look at everything, from your job earnings and business income to investment returns. It's all about making sure the Age Pension is there for those who truly need it.

  • Income limits: For singles, your income every 2 weeks needs to be under certain amounts to qualify for any pension. And if you're part of a couple, different rates apply.
  • Income reduction rates: If your income goes over certain limits, your pension gets trimmed down a bit. For every dollar above that limit, there's a set rate at which your pension decreases, so the benefits taper off as your income goes up.
  • Deeming rate: The government uses a “deeming rate” to figure out how much income your investments are likely making. This is how it assesses the income from your financial assets.

Knowing how your income fits into the picture is important for figuring out if you qualify for the Age Pension and how much you might get.

To get the full Age Pension, keep an eye on your fortnightly income as it needs to stay below certain levels. These caps change based on whether you're single or part of a couple and your living situation.

Here's a detailed look at the income requirements:

  • Income limits for full pension:
    • Single applicants: To receive the full Age Pension your fortnightly income should be $204 or less.
    • Couples: For couples living together or apart due to ill health, the combined fortnightly income limit is $360 to qualify for the full pension.
  • Reduction in pension for additional income:
    • Once your income exceeds these thresholds, the pension amount reduces. For every extra dollar of income, the Age Pension decreases by 50 cents for singles and 50 cents per person for couples.
  • Income cut-off points for pension eligibility:
    • Singles: For single individuals, the Age Pension ceases if your fortnightly income reaches $2,332.
    • Couples living together: The combined income cut-off point for couples living together is $3,568.
    • Couples living apart due to ill health: For couples living apart due to health reasons, the combined income cut-off point is $4,616.
  • Work bonus incentive:
    • The Work Bonus may increase your income cut-off point. It could give you a bit more wiggle room with your income limit. It's all about giving you the nudge to keep working if you want to. Basically, it means you can earn a bit more without it chipping away too much at your pension.
  • Overseas living impact:
    • Living outside Australia could affect your pension payments, potentially leading to reduced rates.

It's really helpful to get a grip on these income rules, as they're key in working out if you can get the Age Pension and how much you might be eligible for.

Asset test 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, jewelry, 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.

Family situationLimit for homeowners to receive the full Age PensionLimit for non-homeowners to receive the full Age Pension
Couple (combined)$451,500$693,500
Couple separated by illness (combined)$451,500$693,500
One partner eligible (combined assets)$451,500$693,500

*Figures as of November 2023

Finder survey: How familiar are Australians with the regulations on superannuation access?

Have little understanding55.68%
Have a good understanding33.47%
I don't understand it10.86%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1004 Australians, December 2023

How much can you receive from the Australian Age Pension? (current value)

The amount you receive from the Australian Age Pension varies, influenced by your income level, asset value and relationship status. As of the latest update from Services Australia, the pension rates are structured as follows:

StatusMaximum basic rate Maximum Pension SupplementEnergy SupplementMaximum total payment
Couple$1,511.40 combined$120.80 combined$21.20 combined$1,653.40 combined
Couple separated by illness$1,002.50$80.10$14.10$1,096.70

*Figures as of November 2023
Herein, eligible recipients may also receive Pension Supplement and Energy Supplement payments, which can increase the total pension amount. These supplements are designed to help cover general and energy-related living costs.

It is important to note the biannual adjustments and advance payments here.

Your Age Pension rates get a little tweak twice a year, in March and September, to keep up with living costs and wages. You don't have to do anything as the new rates kick in automatically.

Plus, once you've been getting the Age Pension for 3 months, you might be able to get advance payments. You pay these back over 13 fortnights and you get to pick how much you need, either in one big go or a few smaller amounts.

The pension you can get depends on your own situation, like your income and assets. Keeping up to date with the latest rates and any policy changes is really helpful for planning your retirement.

For the most recent info and updates on the Age Pension, the Services Australia website is the go-to place.

How do I apply for the Age Pension?

If you’re eligible for the Age Pension, you can apply online by following these steps:

  1. Create a myGov account online and link this to Centrelink (if you already have a myGov account, just log in).
  2. Navigate to "Centrelink", then "Make a claim", then "Start a new claim".
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Alternatives to the age pension (if you don't qualify)

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.

Invest in 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.

Pensioner loan

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. Learn more about returning to work after retirement.

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