Study reveals just how tough pensioners are doing it

For years those living on the pension have been trying to get the government to understand just how difficult it
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For years those living on the pension have been trying to get the government to understand just how difficult it is to make ends meet.

Now a new study is backing up their claims, finding a third of Australia’s pensioners are living below the poverty line and being forced to skip meals and worse just to make ends meet.

“The age pension in Australia is clearly inadequate. That is an indisputable fact and the government has to face up to that fact,” Everald Compton, chairman of the Longevity Innovation Hub and report co-author told News Corp.

The base rate pension now stands at $794.80 a fortnight for a single person and $599.10 for each member of a couple.

The minimum wage is $1345 per fortnight while average weekly earnings is $2320.

The poverty line is $851.

The study is calling for the government to listen up and to make radical changes to the pension so that those who have contributed so much can at least afford the basic necessities.

Doesn’t sound like too much to ask for does it?

“The bottom line is, if you are a single person receiving the age pension and you are not entitled to rent assistance because you own your own home … then your living income is $56 below the poverty line,” co-author Jo Toohey, chief executive of the Benevolent Society, told the National Press Club.

“The very ordinary demands of contemporary Australian life place so much stress on their finances that many of them are teetering constantly on the edge of poverty and deprivation,” she said.

While the question of how to get more money into the pockets of pensioners is a difficult one, the study said that just an extra $50 a week would make a big difference.

How do you think we could get an increase in the pension? Is it time the government faced this issue?

  1. Bob Neil  

    Try living on the dole its a lot lower than the pension and i dont live in subsidized housing . (64 and abit)

    • Allan  

      Bob the dole is there for those out of work till they hopefully find new employment
      The pension is there for those that have ended there working life with no cance for future employment till their life ends
      Completely different

      • Anne Wolski  

        Try getting a job at that age. If the person is over 60 and unemployed they should go straight onto aged pension not Newstart. This government have no idea

    • Angela Oliver  

      100 % Agree, I am 62 no job prospects, we live on $259 per week,four years before I qualify for the pension!

      • Robyn McCarthy  

        Yep me too. Been un-employed since I was 62 (“retrenched”) from job I had been in for 18 years. Thankfully not much longer for me to have to survive on Newstart.

    • Giulia  

      The widow allowance is the same amount as dole Bob, it is farcical because the title slaps widows in the face, but it is how Centrelink pigeon-holes older women who are no longer married.
      If you try to work and earn, it keeps you locked in to poverty, because you lose a great percentage. This can only breed despair and hopelessness, I say this from experience

    • Sandra Pope  

      Re :- On the dole.But you are young and fit and can drive a car. Pensioners spend lots on medical aids, taxi fares , people to help do jobs that they can no longer do and most have after all worked all their lives and Paid taxes with the expectation of getting an adequate pension. Women of pension age may not have worked for long due to not having had access to affordable childcare in the past or to the cultural practice of the 60’s and 70’s of men being the wage earners and women the homemakers and child carers. Therefore their superannuation is negligible. Working class men in labouring jobs did not earn a huge wage so again superannuation is not enough . Australia is almost the only country I know that does not pay a full pension to a partner of someone who is not yet old enough to retire so has to keep working. In the UK people are paid full pension regardless of their partners income so you could be married to a millionaire and still get full pension ( and don’t give me the guff about how hard it is in America….!) Look to countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway to see how the population should be treated!!! When will pensioners take matters in their own hands I wonder, I have another 6 months to go but can’t retire as that will mean living on a pittance and giving up everything that make life worthwhile at the moment. Australian Government need to show respect for many of the elderly who have worked hard to buy houses of their own rather than hold out hands for rent assistance , there is no help for those who are still paying of mortgages ! I could go on…How can we protest in a manner that will get an appropriate response, how many elderly have to live in poverty before they receive a pension that is at least above the poverty line.

      • Rob  

        I worked full time until I was 65 then part time until I was 78. Too crippled up and too old to want to start a new job now. No savings just the pension. Not easy. Pensions should be within $50 of the minimum wage.

    • Go get a job! There are plenty out there if you are willing to do any work. What amazes me is tha mor than half of people on the dole, smoke cigarettes @ 20 or more per put and drink alchol and the say they can’t afford to feed their kid.

      We did it really rough when first married and lived on porridge and sausage milk and bread for a month or so, no smoking, not alcohol, family of four because there was no public houses available and most of my husbands wage went on rent, not government back at all not child care, didn’t squat back then, no car, walked every where, with two children, I could get a job because I had not one to look after my kids.
      But since then I’ve worked bloody hard to do good for my kids and now on my own and on a pension. I’ve spent my working life paying to much tax so people can have the dole and other government hand outs, while struggle on the crap pension the government deems liveable, or should I say laughable.

      The illegal immargriants and prison are paid and treated better than pensions.
      I rest my case.

    • Go get a job! There are plenty out there if you are willing to do any work. What amazes me is tha mor than half of people on the dole, smoke cigarettes @ 20 or more per put and drink alchol and the say they can’t afford to feed their kid.

      We did it really rough when first married and lived on porridge and sausage milk and bread for a month or so, no smoking, not alcohol, family of four because there was no public houses available and most of my husbands wage went on rent, not government back at all not child care, didn’t squat back then, no car, walked every where, with two children, I could get a job because I had not one to look after my kids.
      But since then I’ve worked bloody hard to do good for my kids and now on my own and on a pension. I’ve spent my working life paying to much tax so people can have the dole and other government hand outs, while struggle on the crap pension the government deems liveable, or should I say laughable.

      The illegal immargriants and prison are paid and treated better than pensions.
      I rest my case.

  2. Dianne Evans  

    This government would say “Let them eat cake”

    • Jenny  

      The French queen Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI said these now infamous words when she was told about the plight of the poor in Paris. The funny thing is that this remark was not as callous as one may think. In France in the 18th century bakers who ran out of bread were obliged to sell people cake for the same price as bread. It seems unlikely though, that our rulers are going to lose their heads as punishment for their cruel and callous behaviour, like the French royal couple did. A bit of a revolution wouldn’t be too bad to shake up these smug incompetents in Canberra.

  3. patricia dick  

    I knew it was tough on a pension but those figures astound me. The problem is we
    are being encouraged by our government, in an underhanded way, to think of pensioners
    as drainers of public funds. We never had any other support than our wages. Only
    a small child endowment per month of about $12! Worked all our lives, no dole. So please people start thinking that we were the ones that started Australia on the path it continues today. We are not
    drainers of society.

    • Deb Lancaster  

      True Patricia, most pensioners have worked hard and paid taxes all their lives. There was no financial assistance for child care, if you had children you paid for child care yourself. We did not even qualify for family payments. Two parents working shift work and juggling child care, paying for two cars, two car insurances and all the rest that a family of six has to deal with. Now we are expected to live on next to nothing. It doesn’t seem fair. Then you see young people who won’t work and others who think we should cease to exist.

      • Joy  

        I truly belief compulsory conscription would help a lot with the state of the nation, let alone teaching the younger generations some respect, and giving them the experience of what it is like to work for a wage. Young people are bored and uninspired which leads to depression and in some cases anti social behaviour….

    • Cynthia  

      For what it’s worth, l absolutely agree, pensioners who have done their share of hard work for many years are just not recognized enough to help them survive properly into their old age without having to compromise or struggle, but the bottom line is, l think we are just knocking our heads against a brick wall trying to get the pension increase enough to make a difference, it appears it’s very easy to sit back and use the power position the government are in to make decisions for pensioners to receive such a megre amount when they ( polliticians) are sitting more than comfortably safe and secure.

      • I agree what scares me most is the depression that comes from struggling and worrying and seeing no end to there dispair I sincerely hope this dose not lead to a spike in elderly people ending their lives at least give them an increases as they get older needing more meds and doctor visit these become a major worry for them.

  4. Joe  

    The government imposes restrictions (income) so far from reality because they can’t see to the level of pensioners stress .from their ivory towers

    • Gloria Turner  

      So true! They have absolutely no idea what it looks or feels like to live like we do! I’d like to see them live on our pensions… in our accommodation for a month or two… they couldn’t do it… let alone want to!!

  5. Leon Collinson  

    There is NO ONE in Government today who will probably ever draw a pension so they do not give a toss, some of their perks and allowances they get now are worth more than the pension today, you see the odd one trying to live on the dole payment for experience again they don’t have to pay utilities and the like during this wasted exercise

    • Meg  

      They do draw a pension – a parliamentary one – of probably about 5k a fortnight plus perks. They’re not about to let go of that and share, are they?

    • susan smith  

      I would like to challenge pollies ,( both sides , who went to private schools .) to try living on the pension for 2 -3 MONTHS ! Leave the bank card accounts with a pensioner for safe keeping .Begin with a few basics -eg -tea and instant coffee -and live in a rental property .See how they fare then !!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe then I will listen to their arguments !!!!!!!!!!

  6. Shirley Henderson  

    Yes and the government has just given itself a whopping wage increase, they are so unfair, and this is both sides of government. I would like to see them live on the pension. I am having to keep working so I can have home and car insurance, without a small wage we would have no cover.

  7. Fadila  

    The pension is inadequate it is time for the government to realize the fact and resolve the problem by paying more gradually over a period of 12 months 50 dollars a week goes a long way for an elderly pensioner plus what the government gives out in pensions remember they got that out of the pensioners many times over or is it ok for the government to take and not give back now that we are pensioners . We had no choice we had to pay our taxes as much as the government felt was the right amount .
    Now pensioners should not be treated like beggers we have paid now it is time to get paid in our twilight years

    • Lauren  

      Absolutely spot on !!! They seem to be too busy giving those hard earned dollars to people that are new to this country and those that have never, and will never, have jobs, and therefore have never contributed to this country !

  8. Helen  

    I recently retired & am lucky to have “some” super. I honestly don’t know how pensioners survive on the base rate.
    Is there something we can do ? Neither of the political parties give a damn.

  9. Ingers  

    How about the politicians sacrifice all their spending money and stop paying retired politicians.

    • Dianna Bradley  

      Perhaps then politics will attract people with a social conscience rather than just getting a very well paid ride

  10. Petrol discounts. Subdiys food allamwances discounts let the businesses help us to survive now we have supported them all our lives basic things can be hard to keep going not enough disscount housing clothes are cheap but y can’t eat them

    • pat storer  

      We need help its as simple as that the goverment felt the need To give themselves a huge pay rise so why cant they put themselves in our shoes

  11. Colleen Turnbull  

    I wish the Government could take a real long look into this situation as although we don’t whinge we are clearly living below the poverty line. Even though I live in subsidized housing it is still very hard to budget every week. Can’t really even think about taking a good holiday. It would do them all good to do 12 months on a pension and see how they survive.

  12. When I started working in 1973, there was no such thing as super for women. Where does any govt suggest we get our super from? Dry and dusty or wet and soggy land, or does it grow on trees?

    I’ve been on a pension (of some kind) since 1994, have no super, and they still expect me to live below the poverty line with having to pay rising rents.

    There is a ‘rule of thumb’ that ‘most’ of the real estates mostly go by, that the rental per week ‘should not be more than 30% of the income of the applicant’. For those of us on fixed incomes (pensions) this equates to around $150 pw if we are on the single rate of pension with rent assistance (currently just over $1000 per fortnight). Where on earth does one find a suitable rental property for under $170 (average price in Albury/Lavington is $185 per week). This would put us out of the private rental market, but where would we live if we were on the Housing waiting list for the next 5 – 10 years? In humpys in the local park?

    Having a disability doesn’t make it any easier to find suitable accommodation. No shower/bath or deep steps into the shower for me. Before I had my knees replaced, we had a shower hob which was 3 1/2 inches high and a drop of 7 inches into the shower, even though there was a bath next to the shower. This is what the owners/builders consider an appropriate height, but not for me. Likewise the gigantic steps to get into/out of the unit without hand rails.

    Try to get into rental accommodation for over 55s – as rare as hen’s teeth here. The rental is OK, but the extra expense of having to pay for at least 2 meals a day is far too much. I don’t spend anything like $150 per fortnight on my food, which is less than the going rate for the 2 meals a day option. So no dice in this option. I will have to keep battling in the private rental market.

    When the govt deems an increase in pensions of $2.50 per fortnight (minimum) a suitable rise, they must be on something that ‘messes with their mind’. The cost of living, especially in the rural areas has risen by around 10 – 12% in the past 6 years. Petrol, food, and rent are the biggest costs we have, but the govt still expects us to live on the pittance they pay us. Why we can’t have a more suitable rate of pension really has me baffled – like 85% of the average weekly earnings.

    I am a fully qualified bookkeeper, and doing further study in this area, but can’t get any work. Have been trying for the past 20 years. So, please don’t anyone suggest that I get more qualified and get myself a job. There are very few jobs out there which are part-time and flexible enough for me to attend the numerous appointments I have to go to just to keep moving.

    • Erica  

      And then, if you should find work and earn make more than the allowed amount (approx. $250) a fortnight, your pension will go down by 50 cents for every dollar. What’s the point? Plus you’d have to pay taxes from the exceeding amount as well… What’s the solution – please, let me know! Stop eating and live under a tree…
      I have worked from 1971 (45 years)and paid taxes, never accepted any welfare payments and this is the outcome.

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