It’s that time of year where the Government adjusts the Age Pension and 4.5 million Aussies receiving welfare payments are set to see their allowance increase from March 20.
The Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher announced on Tuesday that people currently receiving the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment will see an increase to their pay in two weeks, while there’s also been a boost for people receiving Newstart, Widow and Sickness Allowance.
As a result of the March indexation, pension payments for the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment will increase by $9.90 a fortnight to $926.20 for singles and by $14.80 a fortnight to $1,396.20 for couples combined. While it’s not a huge increase, every dollar counts for people who are on the pension. These rates include Pension Supplement and Energy Supplement.
People receiving Newstart Allowance, Widow Allowance and Sickness Allowance will see their fortnightly pay increase by $5.50 to $564.50, while members of a couple will see an increase of $5.00 a fortnight to $509.60 each.
“Since this Government came into office, the Age Pension has increased by $117.80 per fortnight for single pensioners and by $177.40 per fortnight for couples combined,” Fletcher said in a statement.
Every March and September, payment rates for pensions and allowances are adjusted. The pension increases are linked to prices and wages and allowances are linked to the Consumer Price Index.
“As a result of indexation, Rent Assistance rates also increase from 20 March, as well as a range of income and assets limits for pensions and allowances. This includes higher limits to the income and assets tests for age pensioners,” Fletcher said.
The announcement comes after the Supporting Retirement Incomes Bill passed both houses on February 14 and it received Royal Assent on March 1. Changes under the bill will come into effect from July 1 that will allow pensioners to earn more money before their payments begin to reduce.
Fletcher previously said that around 90,000 pensioners should receive an increase in their payments from July 1.
Currently, the Age Pension’s income test permits pensioners to earn no more than $172 per fortnight before their pension payments are impacted, according to the Department of Human Services’ website. While couples can take home $304 a fortnight (combined) before incurring any reductions.
Meanwhile, new data provided by the Department of Human Services showed that almost half of all pension applications received last year were not processed within the timeframe set out in their Key Performance Measure standards.
According to the federal department, their Key Performance Measure (KPM) standards are to process 80 per cent of applications within 49 days.
Many pensioners have experienced first-hand the frustration of waiting to receive their pension payments after submitting their applications once they’ve turned 65. A total of 61,460 applications for the Age Pension, which equates to 48.5 per cent, fell outside of that time schedule in the 2017-18 financial year.
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