Pensioners doing it tough over ‘shock’ payment cut
Millions of pensioners are hoping for some financial relief in the upcoming Federal Budget after being denied a rise to their payments this month.
The aged pension is indexed twice a year in March and September and is moved according to inflation - the consumer price index.
But because CPI fell by 1.9 per cent in the June quarter - the biggest in the history of the measurement - pension payments will remain the same until at least March next year.
However seniors' groups are hoping Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will deliver some financial relief at October's federal budget.
Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association policy manager Paul Versteege said it was a "shock" to pensioners that their payments would not increase later this month.
"This has never happened before, it's always gone up a little bit or sometimes quite a bit," he said.
"But it does mean the indexation system is working well because the pension does not go down even if there is deflation."
The fortnightly base rate for the aged pension is $860.60 for a single person or $22,375 a year.
For couples it's $1297.40 a fortnight or $33,732 a year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently said he and the Treasurer were discussing the financial options for pensioners after being denied an increase.
"You don't expect those indices to go negative and as a result budgets and others haven't been prepared on the basis of them going negative," he said.
During the pandemic pensioners received two $750 stimulus payments - one in April and one in June as part of the government's coronavirus support package.
Mr Versteege said he was "hoping" for similar stimulus payments in next month's budget.
National Seniors' advocate Ian Henschke said he remained hopeful more financial assistance would become available to pensioners.
"Given the federal budget is only a few weeks away it's a matter of waiting and seeing what's on offer," he said.
Mr Henscke said despite CPI not increasing in the June quarter some costs for pensioners risen.
"More people are having goods delivered to their home," he said.
"The government has previously given two $750 payments but still pensioners are struggling."
He said they are advocating for more Commonwealth rent relief for pensioners and assistance to help with going online, which has being strongly pushed during the pandemic for things such as online banking.
Originally published as Pensioners doing it tough over 'shock' payment cut