Government and community support you should know about

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YourLifeChoices keeps you up to date with government changes and community support measures that could affect your retirement.

Age Pension changes
Revised income and assets test thresholds for the Age Pension took effect from 1 July.

The new disqualifying income limit for singles is $2066.60 per fortnight (up from $2062.60); for couples combined $3163.20 per fortnight (up from $3155.20) and for illness-separated couples combined $4093.20 per fortnight (up from $4085.20).

The new disqualifying asset limits are: single homeowners $583,000 (up from $578,250); single non-homeowners $797,500 (up from $788,750); couple combined homeowners $876,500 (up from $869,500); couple combined non-homeowners $1,091,000 (up from $1,080,000).

Age Pension rates are next due to be adjusted from 20 September 2020. 

COVID-19 support payment
The government announced in March that it would provide a second economic support payment of $750 to about five million recipients under the same eligibility criteria as the first economic support payment, provided the recipient does not receive the coronavirus supplement with their payment. If recipients are eligible at 10 July 2020, this second economic support payment will be automatically paid via Services Australia or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Payments will be made from 13 July onwards. Visit Services Australia for more information.

Accessing your super
You may be able to access a second super payment of up to $10,000 if you’re under financial stress due to COVID-19.

From 1 July until 24 September 2020, you are able to access $10,000. For more information, go to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Telehealth options
As a result of COVID-19, if you are over 70, you can access bulk-billed medical consultations by video conference or telephone. It can be with any of the following health professionals: GP, specialist, allied mental health professional or nurse practitioner.

JobKeeper and JobSeeker
The COVID-19 JobKeeper wage subsidy and the extended JobSeeker payment are set to end in September.

Travel vouchers
Each year, the Victorian government issues free travel vouchers to eligible seniors. You are eligible if you:

  • are a Victorian resident
  • hold a Victorian Seniors Card, a Centrelink or DVA pensioner concession card or a Victorian Carer (‘We Care’) card.

Depending on where you live, you can receive two or four off-peak free travel vouchers each year. However, the government is no longer sending the vouchers automatically. Instead, you need to register for the new system by 31 July 2020. There are three ways to opt in:

  • Register online on the PTV website.
  • Pick up a registration form at any staffed train station and post it back to PTV (completed forms cannot be left at staffed stations).
  • Visit a PTV Hub in Geelong, Bendigo or Melbourne CBD with your eligible concession card.

Eligible card holders who are self-isolating can instead call PTV Customer Service on 1800 800 007 (or 9321 5450 for other languages). For more information about the changes to free travel vouchers visit the PTV website.

Robo-debt repayments
From July, you may get a refund on repayments made on your income compliance debts (Robo-debt). This is if the debt was raised in full or in part using averaging of ATO income information. All unpaid debts using averaged ATO income information will be revised to zero.

Tax time
Tax returns completed by individuals need to be lodged by 31 October, or later if completed by a registered tax agent. To work out whether you need to complete a tax return, visit the ATO.

Retirement income inquiry
The results of the government’s Retirement Income Review are set to be unveiled on 24 July. The aim is to “establish a fact base to help improve understanding of how the Australian retirement income system is operating and how it will respond to an ageing society”. You can read YourLifeChoices’ submission here.

Are you confident the Retirement Income Review will provide clear direction on the future of retirement in Australia?

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Written by Janelle Ward

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