How do you apply for the Age Pension?

TAMIKA SEETO
Finance Journalist · 19 February 2021
Find out how to apply for the Age Pension, including what paperwork you will need, what to expect in the application process, and what to do if your situation changes.

The Age Pension is the main income support payment for seniors in Australia. To be eligible to receive the Age Pension you must generally be:

  • aged 66 or older
  • under the income and assets test limits – these tests look at your income (money from employment and other sources) and the value of your assets (for example, your investments and property)
  • an Australian resident, normally for at least 10 years.

If you think you are eligible to claim the Age Pension, you can start the application process through Services Australia, the government agency which administers the Age Pension and other social security payments via Centrelink.

In this article:

How do I apply for the Age Pension?

You can apply for the Age Pension online through your myGov account, over the phone on 132 300 or by visiting your nearest Services Australia service centre. Services Australia may also contact you directly if you are already receiving certain Centrelink payments.

The exact process of applying for the Age Pension will depend on your current circumstances.

If you’re already receiving benefit payments from Centrelink

If you’re already receiving an eligible payment, Services Australia says it will write to you 13 weeks before you reach the Age Pension qualifying age (currently 66 or older, although this is set to reach 67 by July 2023), and explain what you need to do to apply to transfer to the Age Pension.

This will typically involve checking the information Centrelink has about you is correct, giving it any extra information it requires and completing and returning your application online or through the post. Eligible payments include the JobSeeker Payment and the Disability Support Pension, and a full list is available on the Services Australia website.

If you’re not already receiving benefits from Centrelink

If you’re not currently receiving an eligible payment from Centrelink, you will need to complete a full Age Pension claim. You can apply for the Age Pension 13 weeks before you reach Age Pension age.

You can follow the following steps to apply for the Age Pension:

  1. Make sure you are eligible – firstly, check that you meet the eligibility criteria for the Age Pension. You can see all of the eligibility rules on the Services Australia website.
  2. Prepare your claim – if you are claiming online, you will need a myGov account that is linked to your Centrelink online account. If your partner also wants to claim the Age Pension, you may also be able to submit a combined claim online.
  3. Get your supporting documents ready – you’ll need to have some supporting documents at hand to complete your application. This may include documents that prove your age and identity (more on this below).
  4. Make your claim – According to Services Australia, the easiest way to claim is online through your myGov account. Once you have signed in to your account, go to Centrelink and click ‘Payments and Claims’ and follow the prompts. Alternatively, you can claim by calling Centrelink on 132 300, by visiting a service centre in person or by printing and completing paper copies of the Claim for Age Pension and Pension Bonus form and the Income and Assets form. If you decide to visit a service centre in person, Services Australia suggests double-checking any COVID-19 restrictions or rules about wearing face masks in your area beforehand.
  5. Complete your claim – you’ll need to answer a number of questions and submit your supporting documents to Services Australia. You may also be required to complete some extra forms, depending on your situation. Once you have submitted all the information required, you can then submit your claim.

What documents do I need to apply for the Age Pension?

You’ll need to give Services Australia some supporting documents before or when you submit your claim. Services Australia says you’ll need to give it documents that show:

  • Your age and identity
  • Your bank account details
  • Your tax file number
  • Your Australian residence, if you’ve lived outside Australia
  • If you are a member of a couple
  • Your income and assets.

If you have already provided these documents to Centrelink or Services Australia, you may not need to do so again.

Services Australia says you may also need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances. For example, you may need to provide additional documents showing your living arrangements and financial, employment and medical details. If you are in a relationship, have separated from your partner or have lived outside of Australia, you may also have to provide extra information about these matters.

What happens after I apply for the Age Pension?

After you apply for the Age Pension, Services Australia says you’ll get a receipt which will give you the date it estimates your claim will be complete. You’ll also get a link to track your application’s progress.

If your claim is successful, Services Australia will let you know when your Age Pension payment will start and how much it will pay you per fortnight. Centrelink payments are paid directly into your nominated bank account.

If you think Services Australia has made a mistake in processing your claim, you can ask it to review its decision. It says it will then check the decision, explain why the decision was made and correct any errors. You can ask for a review over the phone, in writing or by visiting a service centre.

What should I do if my situation changes?

You must let Services Australia know about any changes that may affect your Age Pension payment.

You need to tell Services Australia if:

  • You change or correct your name
  • You change your address
  • You or your partner’s income or assets change
  • There are changes relating to your partner – for example, if you stop living with your partner, you marry or start living with your partner, or your partner dies
  • You are leaving Australia to live somewhere else

Services Australia says you have 14 days to tell it about these changes. If you don’t, it may pay you too much and you may have to pay this back.

You can let Services Australia know about most of these changes online using your myGov account, through the Express Plus Centrelink app or over the phone. If you have changed or corrected your name, you’ll need to visit a service centre in person.

What other payments and support may be available?

If you are approved for the Age Pension, you can also get a Pensioner Concession Card. This card gives you access to cheaper health care and medicines.

You might also be eligible for a Seniors Card. These are offered by state and territory governments and give you discounts on public transport and some goods and services.

If you are not approved for the Age Pension but are of Age Pension age, you may be eligible to receive the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. This gives you access to cheaper health care and some discounts. It is not available for people who are receiving payments from Services Australia (including the Age Pension) or from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

You can also use Services Australia’s Payment and Service Finder to see if there are any other payments and services you may be eligible for.


Cover image source: Evgeniy Zhukov/Shutterstock.com

This article was originally written by TJ Ryan. It was reviewed by our Sub Editor Tom Letts before it was updated, as part of our fact-checking process.

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