Today’s increase in age pension payments is expected to provide some much-needed relief to the millions of retirees facing the pressures associated with the ever-rising costs of daily living.
Those on the age pension are among the over 5.5 million Centrelink recipients who will receive a boost to their social security payments as indexation of their payments takes effect.
As of Wednesday, September 20, recipients of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment will also receive an increase to their fortnightly payments. The single pension rate will increase by $32.70 to $1096.70, and the rate for couples combined will increase by $49.40 to $1653.40. These figures include Pension Supplement and Energy Supplement.
In addition to the rise in payments, limits for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card recipients will also be indexed, increasing by $5400 to $95,400 per annum for singles and by $8640 to $152,640 per annum for couples combined.
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the Government is aware that Australians are continuing to struggle with cost of living pressures, calling the increase in payments “a lifeline for many Australians who are doing it tough or may need some extra support”.
“Indexation is a vital mechanism to safeguard the purchasing power of social security payments, ensuring they keep pace with the cost of living,” Rishworth said.
“Higher inflation is being felt most within the homes of those on low fixed incomes and these payments are a lifeline for many Australians who are doing it tough or may need some extra support.”
Despite the increase, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) deputy CEO Edwina MacDonald believes it is not enough to “cover the essentials of life”.
“Australia’s income support payments are among the lowest in wealthy nations and do not cover the essentials of life such as rent, energy and food, causing serious harm to those who rely on them,” MacDonald told the ABC.
“People are regularly skipping meals, going without heating and cooling, forgoing essential medication and medical care, and experiencing social isolation.”
As the debate continues as to whether the payments go far enough to ease the financial burden being felt by the rising cost of living, it will hopefully offer some relief to the six in 10 seniors who have reported that the cost of living is placing an enormous strain on their budget.
These staggering findings were revealed in COTA’s State of the Older Nation (SOTON) 2023 report which surveyed the experiences and views of 2,750 Australians aged 50, with the findings painting somewhat of a grim picture for older Australians.
The recent report found that a striking 45 per cent believe that their situation is worse, a significant rise from 2021 (33 per cent) and 2019 (27 per cent).
Although this year’s Budget sets aside a substantial amount for aged care spending in 2023-24, many older Australians are still worried about their financial situation. Many older Australians remain concerned about their financial well-being, particularly regarding the housing crisis and the risk of homelessness.
The age pension is the most common form of income support available to older Australians. According to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as of March 26 2021, approximately 2.6 million people received the age pension, or 62 per cent of the population aged 65 and over.
You can find out what payments and services you are entitled to via the Services Australia website.