Retirement becomes a lifestyle you look forward to more often as you age because of the flexibility, freedom, and spare time it offers. But a flexible lifestyle isn’t the only thing you are entitled to once you turn 60 and face retirement.
The downsides of ageing are talked about more frequently than the upsides. And although your vision might get blurrier and you might not be as strong as you once were, there are still many benefits you are entitled to during retirement.
Fortunately enough, in the current climate, older Australians are being looked after much more readily, which couldn’t be said in June 2017, when a new budget stripped pensioners of a large portion of their benefits. The shocking budget stripped $460 of annual rates rebates, leaving these people to pay the extra fixed charges on power, water, sewage, and licensing.
In fact, in early September 2021, Services Australia announced that they were increasing pension payments by an extra $14.80 per fortnight for singles and $22.40 per fortnight for couples.
And as the Australian government continues to plan for older Australians, there are nifty perks to look out for when you begin planning for retirement.
An Australian seniors card is available to anyone over the age of 60 who only works a set amount of hours per week. The scheme allows cardholders to access discounts on goods and services, transport, and access to the Senior Shopper service.
It’s important to note that the eligibility and benefits of these cards range from each state and territory. The Australian Government’s website is the easiest way to access information on your eligibility and application, which, again, will be different for every state.
You can apply for a seniors card up to two months before your 60th birthday, with your card being issued to you when you turn 60.
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is a Federal Government scheme that provides affordable health care and discounts. The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card works exclusively with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, so cardholders get access to discounted medications, bulk-billed doctors visits, higher Medicare refunds, and coverage for out-of-hospital costs.
This card is different from the Seniors’ Card because you must meet all of the below criteria:
You can follow a few steps on the Services Australia website to claim the senior’s health card. Once you receive your card, you have the option to renew and replace your card and add it to your digital wallet.
The Pensioner Concession Card is accessible to all pensioners who receive the Age Pension. This card provides cheaper health care, medicines, and discounts if you get certain payments from Services Australia.
This card is different from the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, as you get access to extra benefits, such as hearing services and discounts to redirect your mail through Australia Post. It’s important to note that your state government or local council may offer you more benefits with this card, including discounts on:
Your dependant child may also get some of these benefits. The convenient thing about this card is that you don’t need to apply for it because Services Australia will issue it two years from the date you are granted the Age Pension payment.
Not only do you get access to supportive cards that help you save money, but you also get access to payments that will help fund your retirement.
Eligibility for the Age Pension is based on your birth date and a set of additional criteria. Currently, the Age Pension payment is available for eligible Australians over 66 years and six months for people born from 1 July, 1955 to 31 December, 1956 and for people aged 67 years who are born on and after 1 January, 1957.
Payment can also change depending on your relationship and income status. Here are the basic rates:
Government Pension Loans Scheme
The Government Pension Loans Scheme is a voluntary non-taxable fortnightly income loan that Services Australia pays to you, which you may use to supplement your retirement income.
You will need to use Australian real estate as security to be eligible for this loan. The amount you can borrow using the Pension Loans Scheme depends on how much Age Pension you receive.
As a rule, your combined loan and pension payment can’t be more than 150 per cent of your maximum pension rate.