‘I’m worried that releasing $200K in home equity will impact my pension?’

Oct 21, 2020
As this reader's assets increase, her pension may consequently be reduced. Source: Getty.

Q: I’m single and receive the Age Pension. I want to sell my current home, which I own, and purchase another, smaller one, leaving me about $200,000 in released equity after the costs of buying and selling. I have just over $100,000 in superannuation. What impact would that $200,000 extra have on my pension eligibility?

A: Your personal assets, such as your car, caravan, boat, jewellery and home contents, are also assessable in your pension assets test but since you haven’t given me a value for these items, I have assumed $20,000 for the purpose of giving you an answer.

Having $300,000 in total financial assets (your super plus the released equity) and $20,000 in personal assets would see you receiving $788 in Age Pension per fortnight. The reduction from the full Age Pension payment that I assume you currently receive is due to the assets test – for single pensioners, the asset threshold is $268,000.

If you want to seek independent financial advice, though, there are some simple but effective strategies that could see your pension return to $944 per fortnight. These include gifting up to the limit of $10,000 in a financial year or $30,000 over five years, purchasing a funeral bond worth up to $13,500 or pre-paying your own funeral expenses (there’s no limit on your permitted expenditure here).

Or you could consider purchasing an income stream where only 60 per cent of the asset value is assessable. A specialist financial adviser can guide you on which strategies or combination would work best for you.

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.

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Do you receive the Age Pension? What do you do to maximise your payments?

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