Pensioner warning: Do your assets add up?
SENIORS advocate Nina Higgins fears some pensioners will simply accept the government's assessment of their assets, even if their pension is incorrectly cut.
As a Council of the Aging Bundaberg committee member, Mrs Higgins said she regularly urged pensioners to register for the MyGov government services online and stay on top of their entitlements and any changes.
But she said many didn't have a computer, let alone internet connection.
Under new rules, pensioners with assets worth more than the new thresholds will lose $3 of their payments for every $1000 over, up from $1.50, with the Federal Government introducing new rules to the asset threshold and taper rate from January 1.
But Mrs Higgins said she had spoken to a number of seniors receiving the pension who weren't aware what the new thresholds were or how the changes would impact them.
"They can challenge the government if they don't think the data used to calculate their threshold is correct," she said.
"They just say, 'Oh, I'll just be told what the changes are', and are happy to accept it."
Mrs Higgins said she urged anyone whose pension was cut to make sure they looked at their threshold and made an appointment at Centrelink to speak to someone if they believed their threshold had been incorrectly calculated.
While around 90% of seniors are not expected to be impacted, some might have their pensions cut or cancelled based on the value of their assets aside from their house.
The new thresholds are $250,000 for a single homeowner, $375,000 for a homeowner couple, $450,000 for a single non-homeowner and $575,000 for a non-homeowner couple.
The family home is exempt from the assets test, but investment homes, vehicles, caravans, shares, superannuation and other equity are included.
If a pension is cancelled as a result of the changes, any concession cards will be also cut.
However, those impacted will be eligible for a non-income-tested Low Income Health Care Card and those who had the aged pension will also be eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
But there are some who will be better off under the changes as since the asset threshold has been lifted from $209,000 to $250,000, some pensioners will see their payments increased.
For more information and to check how much you will lose, head to the Department of Human Services website at www.humanservices.gov.au/.