Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Pension boost from 1 July

Around 820,000 Australians currently receiving less than the maximum rate of the pension are expected to get a boost to their payments from the beginning of the financial year.

This change, the result of the annual indexation of the social security assets test and income free areas in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), will help to protect the living standards of Australian pensioners.

Many pensioners will get an increase in payments, while a number of people who were previously unable to receive a pension because of their income or assets may now be eligible for a part pension. Part pensioners are also eligible for some of the extras like a Pensioner Concession Card and Telephone Allowance.

Increased Assets Test Threshold

Most single homeowners who receive less than the maximum rate of pension because of their assets will receive an extra $331.50 a year, while most couples in the same situation will get an extra $468.00 a year.

For a single homeowner, the allowable assets limit increases by $4,250 to $145,250, while for couples the limit rises by $6,000 to $206,500.

Increased Income Test Threshold

Most single pensioners and partnered pensioners who receive less than the maximum rate of pension because of their income, will get an extra $41.60 a year.

Pensioners will also be able to earn more income without having their payments reduced. Pensions will be able to earn an extra $4 each fortnight, up to $116 for singles and $204 for couples.

Centrelink will automatically pay all relevant increases to eligible pensioners from 1 July.

The Howard Government is committed to providing financial security for older Australians. In November 1997, we legislated to set pensions at 25 per cent of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings, as well as continuing to raise pensions in line with CPI.

Pension rates are regularly adjusted to keep pace with increases to the cost of living, and since March 1998 they have been boosted to reflect rises in living standards as measured by wages.