How your relationship status can impact your age pension payments

Jun 07, 2023
Your relationship status can significantly impact your eligibility for the age pension. Source: Getty Images.

While the younger generations obsessively keep their social media profiles up to date with their relationship status, older adults need to ensure that they keep Centrelink up to date about any changes in their relationships to avoid potential complications with their age pension payments.

Accessing the age pension can be a critical aspect of your financial security during retirement. However, your relationship status can significantly impact your eligibility for the age pension and how much you receive, therefore, it’s essential to understand how your relationship status affects your entitlements.

What to tell Centrelink

If you already get a payment from Centrelink, you need to tell them the following:

  • When you start a new relationship
  • If there are any changes to your current relationship.

This is so Centrelink can ensure you are being paid the correct amount. Normally, you need to inform them within 14 days when you start a relationship or when changes occur.

When you first claim a payment, you’ll be asked about your relationship status. This includes if you’re single or a member of a couple.

Your relationship status can impact:

  • If you can receive a payment
  • The type of payment you get
  • The amount you get.

What Centrelink takes into consideration

When it comes to determining your age pension payments, Centrelink carefully considers various aspects of your relationship status. From marital status to living arrangements, understanding how Centrelink views your relationship can have significant implications for your eligibility and the amount of pension you receive.


If you are single and receive the age pension, your income and assets are assessed only in your name. However, if you have a partner, your entitlements may change.


If you are married and both you and your partner are eligible for the age pension, your income and assets will be assessed jointly. This means that your combined income and assets will be considered when determining your pension rate and eligibility.

It’s essential to report changes in your marital status to Centrelink promptly. This includes if you get married, separated, or divorced.

De facto Status

If you are in a de facto relationship, Centrelink will consider you and your partner as a couple for the purpose of assessing your eligibility for the age pension. To be considered in a de facto relationship, you need to meet specific criteria:

  • You’re in a relationship similar to a married couple
  • You’re not married or in a registered relationship
  • You’re over the age of consent in the state or territory you live in
  • You’re not in a prohibited relationship under section 4(12) and section 4(13) of the Social Security Act 1991.

To determine if you are in a couple, for the purposes of assessing your age pension eligibility, Centrelink will also consider the following factors:

Finances: How you handle money together, like sharing bank accounts, debts, or assets.

Household: How you live together, including shared living spaces, responsibilities for household chores, and if you care for children together.

Social perception: We consider how you present your relationship to society and how others view it.

Sexual relationship: Whether you have a sexual relationship, but this alone doesn’t determine couple status.

Commitment: The level of companionship, emotional support, and the length of your relationship.

How to let Centrelink know about you’re relationship status

There are various methods to notify Centrelink about your current relationship status, which include:

  1. If you or your partner are receiving a Centrelink payment or holding a concession card, you can easily update your relationship status by completing and returning a partner details form. This form allows you to provide the necessary information and make the necessary updates.
  2. When you make an online claim for Centrelink benefits, you may be required to confirm your relationship status. In some cases, your partner may also need to verify their relationship status. This is done to ensure an accurate assessment of your eligibility and entitlements.
  3. If Centrelink specifically asks for your partner’s involvement in confirming the relationship status, you have two options available, depending on the circumstances. The online claim will provide guidance on which option is applicable in your situation. It’s important to follow the instructions provided to ensure the correct process is followed.

By following these straightforward steps, you can effectively inform Centrelink about any changes in your relationship status and ensure that your benefits are accurately assessed.

Your relationship status can significantly impact your eligibility for the age pension. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand how your relationship status affects your entitlements and what you need to report.

If you are unsure about how your relationship status impacts your entitlements, it’s recommended that you seek advice from a financial advisor or contact Centrelink directly. By understanding your entitlements, you can ensure that you receive the financial support you need during your retirement years.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up