How to prepare an application for Age Pension 


How to prepare an application for Age Pension 

Applying for the Age Pension is not an easy process, especially if you managed to build some level of savings and based on a good retirement advice to maximise the Age Pension benefit your money is now invested through a mixture of different investment products and different retirement income stream options.

Often I receive phone calls and messages asking me for assistance with application for the Age Pension as forms are complex, the process is often very stressful and can be almost unpleasant.

So, I thought I would provide you with extra suggestions to make the application process hopefully easier and successful the first time you apply.

First there are couple of steps you need to take before you even start completing the application:
1. Check the eligibility criteria – are you eligible in the first place? – and a very good start is my article: Age Pension – Are you eligible? An easy explanation of the eligibility rules, however keep in mind that the Income and Assets Test minimums and maximums are updated quarterly.

2. Check what is your Age Pension benefit. If you are unsure how Income and Assets Tests work read those articles: Age Pension Assets Test – the Truth revealed and Age Pension Income test madness.

This is a perfect starting point; however, nothing will replace the Age Pension focused financial planning advice.
Not only your Age Pension payments could be improved, but as I explained in many of my videos and articles, your overall retirement income can be increased while being more secure, predictable, and longer lasting.

Assuming that you passed the first two points, now is the time to start completing those applications.
You can complete your application either online via MyGov or the old fashion way: print the paper, complete the application and then visit the Centrelink office.

My recommendation is: get the paper application first and go over it. If you are seeing this application for the first time, your eyes will go into a spinning mode, once you discover the questions you are being asked.
Even if you are the most confident with completing applications online, there is so much data you will have to find, research or prepare, that you will need some time to have it all collected for full completion of the application.

There are two basic forms that every applicant needs to fill in:

1.Claim for Age Pension and Pension Bonus

2.Income and Assets form

Although the Claim form is designed for a couple, if you are single, you still use the same form, however your answer to the first question: Do you have a partner is – NO – and then keep completing the left column only.
If you are in a relationship, but only one person applies for the benefit, please reply to the question: Do you have a partner – YES – and then you are required to disclose all the assets you both have.

However, some of the assets will have an additional question as to the ownership, hence if you have a joint bank account, then the ownership is 50/50. If your ineligible partner has a superannuation account for example, write the ownership as 100% to your partner.
If you live outside of Australia, I will prepare a separate video on that process.

Whether you are applying personally in the Centrelink office or online, as I mentioned, gather all the necessary documents to avoid going back and forth, as it will prolong your waiting time for the approval dramatically.

These include:

  • ID documents such as drivers licence, passport, birth certificate
  • Citizenship certificate, if you have one
  • Bank account details – so Centrelink knows where to pay your Age Pension payments.
  • Your Tax File Number – why would you need to provide a TFN you might ask? Well for starters Centrelink might want to crosscheck data with the Tax Office.

And the second reason is, and most people are surprised when I say that Age Pension is a taxable income, which I find pretty ironic.

Then based on your answers to the questions in the second Income and Assets form, you need to provide a proof of the assets you’ve listed:

  • Bank account details – as you need to disclose information of all the accounts you hold, have a print of all those accounts with the current balance of each account. Even and ATM print is acceptable, as long as it is current.
  • Shareholder statements if you have shares.
  • Mortgage statements if you have outstanding debts.
  • Your recent tax return if you own a property – this will also require additional forms to be completed about Real Estate
  • If you run a business, you will need to complete the statements for profit and losses
  • If you are or have been involved in a company or trust structures, you have to also complete additional forms for those.
  • If you continue working, you need to provide your two recent payslips.
  • If you just retired from work, additional letter from your employer confirming you completed your employment is required. It is called employment separation certificate.
  • You are also required to disclose all those details as well about your partner even if your partner is not eligible for the benefit of Age Pension.

Obviously, I am unable to go through every possible scenario of forms required, but that gives you an indication of how complex the application process is, so please be well prepared.
Once you have all documents ready and you feel confident details are correct, my recommendation is: organise your first meeting in the Centrelink office.

Centrelink has to ID you anyway. Centrelink does not accept any certified documents; you need to provide originals and they will take their own copies.
So, if you are going to the Centrelink office to be ID, you might as well just take your application, with all supporting documents and while speaking with the Centrelink officer, provide all your forms.

The officer will scan them all, go over your application and if anything is lacking, will let you know, so it is easier.
Then your application goes to the assessment team and sometimes can be accepted in a matter of couple of weeks, but sometimes can take months, which can be very frustrating, as you might not be updated for some time.

Then it is up to you to follow up as much as you possibly can, but whether that helps or not, is anyone’s guess.

By: Katherine Isbrandt CFP®
Money Strategist & Retirement Planner
Principal of About Retirement

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