I’m an employed pensioner and I make it work 2



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Pensioners, you believe you can’t work because you’re on the pension. Other seniors still working for income, you believe you can’t receive benefits while still working.

It is unfortunate you are not fully informed of your options to help you make the decision to continue working, or return to the work force, part or full time.

While I was a single mother receiving benefits, I started a small home-based business, and worked at developing it until I was totally independent and self-sufficient, and the kids ultimately left home. This was part of my life for about 10 years.

I have been on Disability Benefits since 2004, and worked half time for a salary, declaring my income fortnightly until 2006. I then “retired” to become a “Grey Nomad”, while I still felt well enough to travel.

After some of my health was restored by surgery in 2010, I decided to retrain to undertake a job which would allow me to keep travelling, and earn an income. I gained the qualifications to be a Pilot Vehicle Driver. I’m still working and enjoying every minute of it and the travel it involves. The work also enables me to build up superannuation again.

I made my reports quarterly, using one form for each month to demonstrate a clear picture of the irregularity of my type of work and the income.

I don’t earn enough to charge GST, that’s less than $70,000, which means I don’t have to do BAS statements. I don’t charge tax when I earn it, but I pay tax when I spend it, through the Goods and Services Tax. This could also work in your favour at tax time.

As wage earners and benefit recipients you simply have to report the details of your employment to Centrelink, noting the name of the employer and the nature of the business. Then you must report your income regularly, and submit your tax return to Centrelink each year your work.

As self-employed workers you can earn a considerable income without losing any benefits. Because earning the income involves expenses, you can make a full report to Centrelink. It’s called a Profit And Loss Statement.

The form (click here) requires you to report all income and all expenses involved in earning any income. This could be insurances, telephone, vehicle maintenance, office rent, or part of your home running expenses if you are based at home.

Even if you’re travelling part or full time, you can do seasonal fruit and vegetable picking, jobs in the hospitality industry, driving jobs, or anything you choose to pursue.

It is vital to report your income, and could work to your benefit in the long run.

The complete form is available on the Centrelink website.

The form is used if you are a sole trader (including a subcontractor) or a partner in a partnership who has:

  • commenced new employment or a new business
  • changed your level of business activity or income from self-employment.

Tell us, would you ever work on the pension? Or are you already? What do you do?


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Christine Thiel

I’m Christine Thiel, aged 66, and working full time in my owner-driver business of Pilot Vehicle Driver. I’m based in Adelaide, but my job takes me all over Australia. “Once upon a time” I was a journo in regional SA, contributing to the ABC, and local radio and television news, until I went to the Kimberley in 1996, to work on cattle stations. While I still had some health, I left Broome in 2007 to “do the lap” with my caravan, making the Daintree my destination.

  1. I would but can’t get back into the workforce. I retired to raise 2 little grandies for 2 and a half years and, now that they have gone back to their mother, I just can’t find work even in the industry I worked in for years. I believe ageism is alive and well

  2. I am 67 and still working two to three days a week in a job that I really enjoy. I report my wages fortnightly and my age pension is adjusted accordingly. A very dear older friend of mine advised me to work as long as I can and I intend to do just that as there are many benefits – financial and personal.

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