How can I maximise my pension?
To maximise your pension entitlement, you need to understand how Centrelink work. Most Pensions are subject to a Means Test (i.e. an assets test & an income test, then whichever test gives you the smallest amount of pension is the test that determines your pension entitlement.
Consequently, if you understand how Centrelink are going to treat your assets & your income then you can maximise your pension entitlement. At Balance Retirement & Aged Care Specialists, we must know how to deal with Centrelink to help our clients get the best outcome for their pension claim or when entering residential aged care.
Here are a few tips;
- Always use the “market” value of assets (that is what Centrelink/DVA use for the means test. I.e. the market value of your furniture is NOT the insurance value or replacement value, it would be a garage sale value, & make it as low a value as possible & (after all you will get very little for your furniture if you tried to sell it in a garage sale), cars, trailers, caravans etc should always use a low figure (i.e. assume the car is not in that great shape maybe a trade in value.
- Be aware that if the person claiming a pension is legally blind that the pension is not means tested (i.e. they will get the full pension, no matter how much they have in assets & income). We have have some clients who were legally blind, who were still able to drive, so you don’t have to be totally blind just “legally blind”.
- Understand the different treatments that Centrelink apply for Income Streams like Allocated Pensions, Allocated Annuities, Term Allocated Pensions, Annuities, & Superannuation Pensions (like defined benefit pensions) there are often beneficial treatment for these types of investments.
- Be aware of how Constructive trust arrangements may deliver more pension (i.e. when the person claiming the pension owns an asset, that someone else (maybe a family member has paid for – i.e. that person has a financial interest but not a legal interest in the asset).
- A Granny Flat “right” can help get people more pension. See our section on granny flat rights for more information.
- If one or both members of a couple move into residential aged care, then they are no longer considered a “couple” by Centrelink, & accordingly their pension entitlement will increase & they will be paid at the same “rate” as singles (it does NOT mean they are treated as singles – there is a very big difference).