Brett Wortman

Pension age to go up but eligibility test to remain the same

AS OLDER Australians prepare for the Abbott government's reported moves to increase the aged pension eligibility threshold to 70 years, the asset tests for the welfare benefit will likely go unchanged.

Reports in the Australian on Monday said at least one unnamed "senior Coalition source" confirming the asset tests will remain as is, but the government is yet to publicly confirm the report.

The government, readying its first budget for next month, has already indicated the pension age will be lifted to 70 by 2029, accelerating the previous government's plans to lift the threshold to 67 over coming years.

However, reports on the weekend indicated the government was shying away from changes to the existing asset tests, which allows seniors to claim a part pension, if they own assets worth more than $1 million.

The test has contributed to the phenomenon of asset-rich, income poor older Australians, a section of the population likely to only grow as the over-60s demographic booms in coming decades.

While the government is yet to confirm specific changes, Treasurer Joe Hockey has intimated changes to the aged pension as something needing to be considered as he seeks to find savings.

Any changes to the asset test would put at risk the ability of older Australians who own property to claim the pension, particularly in wealthier areas where property values consistently grow.



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