Changes to the assets test for Centrelink aged pensions from 1 January 2017

By Greg Major, Financial Advisor

As the end of the year is drawing rapidly to a close it may feel like the changes to the Asset Test for the Aged Pension have just been drawn up, however, these were announced in the 2015 Federal Budget.

As a trustee, you may be asking yourself, “what does this really mean for me – and what are my options?”

First, let’s look and see who these measures apply to

If you are over 65 and in receipt of a full or part Aged Pension, then you need to be aware that for every $1,000 owned above the assets test free amount your pension will be reduced by $3 (this was previously reduced by $1.50 for every $1,000).

The thresholds that apply are dependent on whether you are single or a couple, own your own home or not, and are either in receipt of a full or part pension.

For those on full pensions and are single homeowners, the pension starts reducing when assets reach $250,000. For couples it is when their assets reach $375,000.  For non-homeowners, it is $450,000 for a single and $575,000 for a couple.

For single homeowners on part pensions, the pension will be reduced to zero when assets reach $542,500 and for a couple it is when assets reach $816,000.

For non-homeowners who are single it is reduced to zero when assets reach $742,500 and for couples, when assets reach $1,016,000.

What assets are included in the threshold?

The market value of most of your assets is taken into account when calculating your Age Pension. This includes, but is not limited to, things such as:

  • Property (excluding your home)
  • Motor vehicles, boats and caravans
  • Financial investment
  • Superannuation if you’re over Age Pension age
  • Business assets
  • Household contents and personal effects

For some trustees, there will be little or no effect at all. They had always planned that their SMSF would provide them with their income stream in retirement.  For other trustees these changes may impact on their spending patterns and the quality of life they are looking at in retirement.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

For those pensioners who lose their Age Pension entitlement on 1 January 2017, all is not lost! You will be issued with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and a Low Income Health Card, and these cards will be exempt from the usual income test requirements indefinitely.

How can we help?

If you are concerned that the Government’s changes to the Aged Pension are going to affect you, please contact us so that we can discuss your particular requirements in more detail.

Greg Major is an Authorised Representative and credit representative of AMP Financial Planning.

Blueprint Planning Pty Ltd (ABN 78 097 264 554), trading as Blueprint Wealth, is an authorised representative and credit representative of AMP Financial Planning, Australian Financial Services Licensee and Australian Credit Licensee.