PENSION: Know the 2017 asset test changes to the Aged Pension.
PENSION: Know the 2017 asset test changes to the Aged Pension. Paul McKeon

PENSIONS: The changes affecting your hip pocket

BIG changes to the Aged Pension assets test, announced on January 1, 2017, are now hitting the hip pocket of senior Australians.

These changes were in both the assets test free area and the taper rate for pensions.

The Department of Human Services advise that most people will receive more, or have no change to their pension.

It expects a small number may have their pensions reduced or cancelled.

"If this happens, we'll send you a letter. You don't need to contact us," the Department of Human Services advised.

The assets test-free area is the amount of assets you can have without affecting your pension.

Where the change to the assets test affects government subsidised aged care fees, aged care residents will receive written details of these changes.

Payments that are affected by the pension asset test changes are: the age pension, carer payment, disability support pension, widow pension and wife pension.

New asset limits:

A person's assets don't affect payments if they are below the assets test free area which are:

  • $250,000 for a single home owner.
  • $375,000 for a home owner couple.
  • $450,000 for a single non-home owner.
  • $575,000 for a non-home owner couple.

The family home is still exempt from the assets test.

Asset limits for allowances have increased.

Impacts on payments and concession card:

  • From January 1, the pension has been reduced by $3 per fortnight for every $1000 of assets you own over the assets test-free area.

Pension Bonus Scheme:

  • For those people registered for the Pension Bonus Scheme, the bonus will depend on the rate of Age Pension when it is claimed.

Aged care fees:

  • The above changes may affect government subsidised aged care fees because a person's income, including the pension, affects fees.
  • If a pension is reduced or cancelled, or a person's aged care fees change, a letter will be sent.

If a person lost their pension on 1 January, 2017, and is age-pension age, they will automatically get a non-income tested Low Income Health Care Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

For more detailed information on the changes and how it will affect you, contact 132 200 or talk to staff at your nearest Centrelink service centre.

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