Q: My husband and I have recently qualified to receive a partial Age Pension, reduced due to the Assets Test. We also have Allocated Pensions and a few shares. How does the government calculate the amount I am entitled to receive? I understand we are obliged to inform Centrelink if the value of our assets changes. As the value of our assets fluctuates daily, how often am I obliged to inform them of the change?
A: Your Age Pension entitlement is subject to means testing. There are two components of the means testing; an Asset Test and an Income Test. Centrelink calculates your Age Pension on the test that generates the lowest eligible pension amount.
As you are in receipt of a means tested benefit, you are obliged to inform Centrelink if you have purchased or disposed of assessable assets or received a gift or inheritance.
If financial assets owned directly by you (such as shares) change in value by more than $1,000, you are obliged to inform Centrelink within 14 days.
Under the Assets test, all of your assets are counted at current market value, including Superannuation. Your family home that you reside in is exempt. The Asset test reduces your Age Pension by $1.50 per fortnight for each $1,000 that the Assessed Value of your assets exceeds the threshold. Please note, from 1 January the rate at which the Age Pension reduces will increase from $1.50 to $3 per fortnight.
A couple who own their home, are currently entitled to receive the full Age Pension if their Assessable assets are less than $296,500. ($209,000 for a single). For a non- home owner couple, the threshold is currently $448,000. ($360,500 for a single).
Post 1 January 2017, a couple who own their home, will be entitled to receive the full Age Pension if their Assessable assets are less than $375,000. ($250,000 for a single). For a non- home owner couple, the threshold will be $575,000. ($450,000 for a single).
The current cut off point to receiving a part Age Pension for a couple who own their home is Assessable assets less than $1,178,500. ($793,750 for a single). For a non- home owner co
uple, the threshold is $1,330,000. ($945,250 for a single).
Post 1 January 2017, a couple who own their home, will be ineligible for a part Age Pension if their Assessable assets are greater than $816,000. ($542,500 for a single). For a non- home owner couple the threshold will be $1,016,000. ($742,500 for a single).
Centrelink applies a bulk asset valuation update to all benefit recipients in March and September each year for shares in Public Companies where the values will change on a daily basis. This is done at the same time that Pension indexation increases are applied. The value used is the latest available price on the share market.
You are entitled to request a re-assessment of your benefits at any stage. On request Centrelink will automatically update the latest market values for your shares and managed investments.
If you own company issued options or exchange traded options, Centrelink applies the value as reported by you. The assessable value is the sale price at the time of re-assessment as reported in newspapers or the ASX.
You can notify Centrelink of a change in your assessable assets in person by phone, by mail, via e-mail or online at www.humanservices.gov.au