ANDREW Heaven, an AMP financial planner at WealthPartners Financial Solutions, talks about the impact of on an age pension if gifts are counted as an asset.
Question: I am applying for the age pension and the Income and Assets form (SA369) is asking about gifts. I assisted my son four years ago to buy a house by contributing $100,000 to his deposit as a gift. What are the consequences for my age pension? If this gift is counted as an asset, will it mean we do not receive the age pension?
Answer: In applying for the age pension, Centrelink applies an assets and income test to determine your entitlement to a pension benefit. Broadly speaking whichever test delivers the lower pension benefit is the test that will apply. There are limits as to how much an age pension applicant can gift in order to reduce the amount of assets they own to increase their pension entitlement.
You are entitled to gift up to $10,000 a year or $30,000 over a five year period. The same limits apply as a single person or as a couple. If you exceed these limits, the amount in excess of the limit is considered a deprived asset and the excess amount counts as an asset for five years from the time you made the gift.
Even though you are applying for the age pension now, as you gifted your son the $100,000 four years ago, $90,000 which exceeds the limit will count as a deprived asset and therefore count for assets test purposes and be deemed under the income test. However next year, once the five years have expired from the date of gifting, it will no longer be counted.
Under the assets test, all of your assets excluding the family home are counted at current market value. The asset test reduces your age pension by $3 per fortnight for each $1000 that the assessed value of your assets exceeds the threshold.
The current cut off point to receiving a part age pension for a couple who own their home is assessable assets less than $830,000 ($552,000 for a single). For a non-homeowner couple, the threshold will be $1,033,000 ($755,000 for a single).
If the $90,000 that is still being assessed (as a result of the $100,000 gift to your son) will exclude you from receiving the age pension, there are a range of options available to reduce your assessed assets - you could consider renovating or upgrading the family home as the family home is assets test exempt; spend money on a holiday; purchase a funeral bond up to $12,500 per person or pre-pay your funeral and cemetery plot.
Alternatively, you could wait for the five years from the date of gifting to expire and then re-apply for the age pension.
Q&A with The Coach story first appeared on www.wealthpartners.net.au. Any general advice in this story doesn't take account of your personal objectives, financial situation and needs.
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