Sunday, April 3, 2016

2017 Changes to the Age Pension assets test

We continue to have enquiries regarding the changes to the Age Pension scheduled for 1 Jan 2017.

Approximately 50,000 Age Pensioners are projected to be better off under the government’s changes and receive the full pension and about 120,000 part pensioners are predicted to add around $30 per fortnight to their wallet.

However, recent reports have indicated that far more will be disadvantaged with more than 300,000 Age Pensioners having at least part of their pension cut, and just under 100,000 of these people losing all Age Pension entitlements.
The government has said that people who do lose their pensions in 2017 will automatically be entitled to receive a Commonwealth senior’s health card or a low income health card. These cards will provide access to Medicare bulk billing and less expensive pharmaceuticals. Of course, this is not a concession as a result of the proposed changes this simply remains the current situation. The Low Income/Concession cards are income based and the proposed changes affect assets.
Our Age Pension calculator provides an estimate of how you could be impacted by these changes
Health Care Cards
Low Income Health Care Card
If you are not entitled to the Age Pension then you may be entitled to a health care card. For example, the Low Income Health Care card has a eight-week income test as follows
Qualifying income limits from 20 March 2016
 Weekly income
 Eight-week period
 Single, no children
 Couple, no children

Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card

The Dept. of Human Services quotes the eligibility criteria as follows
“The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is subject to an income test which is indexed on 20 September each year and includes:
·       adjusted taxable income, and
·       a deemed amount from account based income streams
There is no assets test.
You should have an annual income of less than:
·       $52,273 for singles
·       $83,636 for couples combined, or
·       $104,546 for couples combined, who are separated by illness or respite care, or where one partner is in prison
The income limit is increased by $639.60 for each dependent child you care for.”