Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Supporting working Age Pensioners

The proportion of age pensioners in the workforce has been boosted as a result of pension reforms the Australian Government has made to support age pensioners who want to remain in or enter the workforce.

In the 18 months that followed the Government’s introduction of its Seniors Work Bonus in September 2009, the proportion of people coming onto the age pension who also received an income from work, increased by around 25 per cent.

The average wage for these age pensioners has also increased from around $17,600 in the 18 months prior to the introduction of the Work Bonus to around $22,500 in the following 18 months – an increase of around 28 per cent.

From 1 July this year the Government will expand the Work Bonus to allow age pensioners, particularly those who have seasonal jobs, to keep more of their pension if they choose to work.

Eligible pensioners can earn up to $250 a fortnight without it being assessed as income under the pension income test.

In addition, any unused amount of the fortnightly $250 Work Bonus will accumulate in an employment ‘income bank’, up to a maximum amount of $6,500. Credit in the ‘income bank’ can then be carried forward to future years and be used to offset employment income that would otherwise be assessable under the pension income test.

An eligible pensioner couple can each accumulate $6,500, a combined total of $13,000. The work bonus concession is in addition to the existing income test free areas of $146 a fortnight for single people and $256 a fortnight for couples.

The new expanded Work Bonus will benefit an estimated 30,000 pensioners, by allowing them to keep more of their pension when they work and represents an investment of $93.7 million over four years

Also starting on 1 July, mature age workers (aged 50 years and over) with trade skills but no formal qualifications will have the opportunity to have their skills assessed and formally recognised to attain a qualification at Certificate III level or above through the More Help for Mature Age Workers initiative,

The Gillard Government is investing $30 million over three years in this initiative, which will address both productivity and skills shortages

More Help for Mature Age Workers builds on the Government’s $43.3 million Experience Plus program (Productive Ageing Package) which started on 1 July 2010.

The Gillard Government recognises the contribution made by older Australians to the community and the workplace and we will continue to provide them with the support they deserve.