Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Work Bonus Scheme - WBS

The Work Bonus Scheme has been promoted as a replacement for the - now cancelled - Pension Bonus Scheme. Centrelink promote the scheme as “an incentive for pensioners over pension age to participate in the workforce”.

Under the new Work Bonus, half of the first $500 of fortnightly employment income will be disregarded from the income test for pensioners over Age Pension age. This means the maximum allowance is $250 per fortnight. This is in addition to the normal allowable income free threshold.

For example:
a) If a pensioner earns $400 per fortnight, then Centrelink will only treat $200 as part of the income test – i.e. maximum WBS allowance of 50% of wage.
b) If a pensioner earns $800 per fortnight, then $550 will be accessed under the income test – maximum WBS of $250 per fortnight.
c) If a pensioner earns $100 in the first fortnight and then $700 for the next – the WBS benefits will be $300 for the month ($50 + $250). Whereas, if the pensioner earned the same monthly amount ($800), but reported $400 per fortnight, then the WBS benefit would be $400 ($200 + $200). An increased WBS benefit of $100 for the month.

The Work Bonus is an automatic benefit with no application required.
The Work Bonus applies to income such as:
• Wages paid in, and outside, Australia
• Directors fees.

However there are a number of areas where the Work Bonus Scheme pensioners need to be careful:

Exclusions:

Partner under age pension - earnings will only attract the Work Bonus if they are over age pension age, and on a pension.

Non Wage Earnings - The Work Bonus applies to employment income such as wages and director's fees. It does not apply to “other income such as leave, investments, superannuation, or payments to a principal from a sole trader or partnership”. When the scheme first came into effect pensioners who were excluded from the new WBS included some ‘lollypop’ traffic controllers, newspaper deliverers etc. who were paid as contractors. In these cases we were therefore able to claim expenses for items such as travel costs, to achieve similar benefits.

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