Make the most of your retirement entitlements

If you're approaching retirement, it's time to get serious about your finances. You need to generate enough income to see you through what will hopefully be a long and comfortable retirement.

Along with your savings, government benefits (if eligible), which include payments such as the age pension, carer’s allowance and disability support, are an important part of your retirement income mix. It’s important that you’re aware of all you’re entitled to.

Super and the age pension

Around 70% of people at age pension age rely on a full or part age pension for financial support1.

There’s no official retirement age in Australia, but normally you must be at least 55 years old* to start accessing your super with full access at 60, and the age pension at 65, which will gradually increase to 67 in 2023, depending on when you were born.

Check out MoneySmart’s super and pension age calculator to see when you can access your super savings and age pension.

What else might you be entitled to?

Age 55-64 and working

  • Low Income Health Care Card—If you earn less than $527 (single) or $912 (couple) a week, you may be eligible for a range of concessions including:
    • medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at $6.10 per script
    • bulk billing for doctor’s appointments
    • more refunds for medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net
    • help with hearing services
    • reductions on property and water rates, energy bills, public transport fares and motor vehicle registration.
  • Seniors Card—Generally if you’re over 60 and work less than 20 hours per week, you can receive discounts at a range of commercial businesses and some public services. Eligibility rules vary depending on where you live—you can find links to your home state or territory here.

Age 55-64 and not working

  • Newstart Allowance—If you haven’t reached age pension age, you could be eligible for help with finding a job. Job seekers have to apply for jobs, train or study to qualify, but this activity test is more flexible if you are 55 or older. So you may be able to meet requirements by doing at least 30 hours a fortnight of suitable paid work, self-employment or Centrelink-approved voluntary work—or a combination of these.
  • Health Care Card—If you’re on Newstart Allowance, you’re also eligible for the Health Care Card, which provides a range of benefits.
  • Carer payment/allowance—If you’ve had to reduce your work hours to care for a loved one, then you may be eligible for a carer payment or allowance.

Age 65+ 

  • Pensioner Concession card—If you receive the age pension this card entitles you to reduced cost medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, plus a range of other benefits.
  • Pension Loans—If you only receive a part age pension due to your income or assets (but not both), you can use your real estate as security for a loan to generate an income.
  • Work Bonus—If you’re working and receiving the age pension you could be entitled to a Work Bonus, which excludes up to $250 a fortnight of your pay from the Centrelink income test. This means you are able to keep more of your income, or work for short periods with little or no effect on your age pension.
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC)—If you’re ineligible for the age pension due to the means test, you may be eligible for the CSHC, which provides a number of benefits.
  • Supplements—If you receive the CSHC, you’ll also receive the:
    • Seniors Supplement—up to $894.40 a year for singles or $673.40 a year for each member of a couple, paid quarterly.
    • Energy Supplement—up to $366.60 a year for singles or $275.60 a year for each member of a couple. 

But things could be about to change. In the 2014 Federal Budget, the Government announced that the Seniors Supplement will be abolished effective 20 September 2014. Currently (at time of writing), legislation to implement this change has been released but has not fully progressed through Parliament.

Like to know more?

Don’t be left behind! It’s important to keep up-to-date with the latest legislation and news.

Once you know you have all your entitlements you’ll enjoy your retirement journey all the more.  

* From 1 July 2015 this will be 56 years old unless you were born before 1 July 1960.

1 2015 Intergenerational Report; based on 2013/14 data.

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.