(By Mark Teale)
On 1 February 2019, many people will turn 65 years and 6 months.
You may be asking why is this important?
For most of us, this date will mean very little, however, for those who do turn 65 years and 6 months, it will mean that they have reached age pension age.
Just over 70% of these people will be eligible for either a full age pension or a part age pension
For these people, the first step in the process is, of course, applying for the age pension – sounds simple doesn’t it?
As readers will be aware, a person’s age pension entitlement is based on, not only their age, but also on their personal situation, and their income and assets.
Regardless of what we may think, the government is not aware of many aspects of your financial position. This means you need to complete an Application for Age Pension. Like all good government forms, it has a number – SA002. It consists of 25 pages and asks a total of 94 questions. In addition to this form, you also need to complete an ‘Income and Assets form (Form SA 369)’, which runs to a further 18 pages and 60 questions.
Now, depending on the answers you give to the questions asked on the Income and Assets form, you may be ‘lucky’ enough to have additional forms which you need to complete.
Sounds like a very long and exhausting process. The good news is that you do not have to wait until you turn 65 years and 6 months to apply for the age pension. You can lodge your claim 13 weeks before you turn the qualifying age – for those people who turn 65 years and 6 months on the 1 February 2019, you can lodge your application on the 2 November 2018.
Once you have completed the required forms, you can lodge the application in several ways:
- Online via your ‘myGov’ online account. This needs to be linked to your Centrelink account which you need to set up with your Customer Reference Number (CRN). If you have received payments from Centrelink previously you will have a CRN. If not you will need to apply to Centrelink for a CRN. Centrelink will also need to confirm your identity before you set up your account.
- Via post to the Department of Human Services in Canberra. If you choose this method I would suggest photocopying all the documents you intend on posting and using registered mail to ensure you have a record of the application being sent.
- The third option, which is perhaps the least desirable, is to lodge your application in person at your local Centrelink service centre. However, I suggest this could be the best and least confusing option for a lot of people.
To assist you in this entire process there is another form Ci006 ‘Information you need to know about your claim for000 Age Pension’, I also suggest a visit to the Department of Human Services website is a must – https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/age-pension
If this all appears a little daunting, talking to an expert and paying them for their assistance could be the best option.
You may question the value of paying someone to assist you in filling out your age pension application, but I do equate it to a person paying someone to complete their tax returns every year. This process is no different and just as complicated, if not more so. The good news in most circumstance is you only need lodge your age pension claim once.
It is also very important to remember the application for age pension and the associated forms are all legal documents and if you are found to have provided misleading or incomplete information, you could be subject to a fine or worse.
In a future blog, I will discuss several other issues which a person should address prior to completing and lodging an age pension claim.