When can I start an Age Pension in Australia?
With the Age Pension, Australian Social Security ensures that citizens have the financial resources for at least a minimal, frugal standard of living when they retire from work. In other words, the Australian community supports individuals who have limited retirement income.
The Age Pension is a means-tested income support benefit for Australians old enough to be eligible for it. Originally, the Age Pension age was the age when individuals were thought to be ‘too old to work for a living’.
For 2018, the Age Pension age is 65 years and 6 months. But it has increased over recent decades and will continue to increase.
Equality for women
Last century, the Age Pension was available for men who had reached 65 years and for women at 60 years of age. Back then, a typical married couple started an Age Pension as soon as the husband retired on his 65th birthday. Before then, the working husband usually made more money than would allow them to receive the Age Pension.
Remember, this was also at a time when most wives were homemakers—working in the home.
The Age Pension age for women was increased gradually in response to improvements in community health and the move towards equality. The first increase in the Age Pension age for women applied from July 1995. Then there were regular increases for females of six months every two years until there was equality.
This meant that women born before July 1935 had an Age Pension age of 60 years. They were the first women to be impacted by the increase in the Age Pension age. The last women to have earlier access to the Age Pension than men were those born in 1948. They had an Age Pension age of 64 years and 6 months.
Women born after 1948 have the same Age Pension Age as men. Equality was achieved In January 2014, with an Age Pension age of 65 years for both men and women.
More legislated increases in the Age Pension age
The general health of the community is still improving. We’re living longer and staying fit enough to work for much longer than our grandparents could. Therefore retirement benefits are being deferred.
The Commonwealth has already legislated for the Age Pension age to gradually increase for all Australians.
From July 2017, the Age Pension age increased to 65 years and 6 months. The next increase will be to 66 years, effective from July 2019.Two further increases of six months each are legislated for July 2021 and July 2023.
From January 2024, the Age Pension age will be 67 years. If you were born in January 1957 or later, you will not be able to apply for an Age Pension until you reach 67 years.
Summary of Age Pension ages for starting an Age Pension
|Date of birth||Age Pension age||Attain Age Pension age|
|Before July 1952||65 years||Before July 2017|
|July 1952 to December 1953||65 years 6 months||January 2018 to June 2019|
|January 1954 to June 1955||66 years||January 2020 to June 2021|
|July 1955 to December 1956||66 years 6 months||January 2022 to June 2023|
|January 1957 or later||67 years||January 2024|
Further increases in Age Pension age
There’s a possibility that the Age Pension age might continue to increase to 70 years. Some other economically-advanced countries such as Britain and Ireland have already legislated an increase to a minimum age of 68 years for an equivalent social security Aged Pension. Britain is considering further increases to age 70 years. Some European countries will also review their state pension age to reflect the increase in life expectancy.
Christine Hopper is the Director of Financial Care Services, an independent financial advisor.
Financial Care Services is focused on mature people considering a change of lifestyle including retirement and particularly new living arrangements in: retirement lifestyle community villages; granny flats; supported or assisted living; and Commonwealth regulated aged care.
Christine talks to Centrelink as a customer receiving a Carers Allowance and on behalf of clients. She understands the range of Department of Veteran Affairs and Centrelink income support benefits, their relevant means tests and eligibility conditions. She’s an actuary who also holds a Bachelor of Science, a Diploma of Financial Planning and a Certificate of Theology.