Centrelink changes for pensioners

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Will your payments be affected?

Are you a pensioner receiving Centrelink benefits? Do you own any assets? If so, the New Year brings important changes to how Centrelink measure your assets. And while it may look like good news at first, it’s important to read the fine print!

So – what’s changing?

From 1 January 2017 – so pretty soon! – Centrelink are changing the assets test they use to calculate how much your pension payment will be.

  • Centrelink are increasing the maximum value that your assets can have before they start to reduce your pension payment.
  • The new asset test free areas – so in other words, the value your assets can have before they start to reduce your pension – are as follows:
    • $250,000 for a single homeowner
    • $375,000 for a homeowner couple
    • $450,000 for a single non-homeowner
    • $575,000 for a non-homeowner couple
  • Your family home isn’t included when measuring your assets.

What’s the catch?

So, this seems like good news, right? The amount of assets you can own before your pension is affected is increasing!

  • Well, in a way – it is good news. But only if the value of your assets is less than the new limits.
  • If your assets are valued at more than the new limit, the amount by which your pension is affected is increasing – meaning you’ll receive a smaller pension.
  • Currently, for every $1,000 you are over the asset test-free limit, your pension is reduced by $1.50 a fortnight.
  • From 1 January 2017, for every $1,000 you are over the asset test-free limit, your pension will reduce by twice as much, so by $3 a fortnight.

Who is affected?

This change to asset limits will be applied to the following pension payments:

How do I know if I’m affected?

You can use Centrelink’s online asset test estimator to see how you might be affected.

  • If you currently receive the maximum pension rate, your payment won’t change.
  • If the increased asset limit means you’re eligible for a higher rate of the pension, this will happen automatically from 1 January 2017.
  • If these changes are going to reduce or cancel the payment you receive, Centrelink will send you a letter.

Where can I get more info?

You can read more here.

You can also watch this video from the Department of Human Services.