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There are a number of recent changes that have or are about to take effect that you and your clients should be aware of, particularly for those of Age Pension age or approaching retirement.
From 1 July 2017, the age to be eligible for the Age Pension is changing.
Clients who were born on or after 1 July 1952 will need to be aged 65 years and six months before being eligible, and the Age Pension age will then go up by six months every two years until 1 July 2023, when the Age Pension eligibility age will be 67.
If your client is currently getting an income support payment, they can expect to get a letter from the Department of Human Services nine weeks before they reach eligibility age, inviting them to transfer to the Age Pension.
For those not in receipt of a payment from the Department, they are able to submit their claim up to 13 weeks before reaching Age Pension age.
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
Also, you should be aware recent changes occurred for some people who hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card in relation to the Energy Supplement.
The Energy Supplement is paid quarterly to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders. People who claimed the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card after 19 September 2016 would now have received their final payment for the quarter 20 December 2016 to 19 March 2017.
However, people who were receiving an income support payment, such as the Age Pension, on 19 September 2016 may still receive the Energy Supplement if they claim the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card less than six weeks after their pension is cancelled.
While the change has happened automatically and recipients do not need to do anything, the Department wrote to people who were impacted in April.
These people will still keep their Commonwealth Seniors Health Card as long as they remain eligible.
The rules about who can get the Energy Supplement came into effect from 20 March 2017, and affect some people who receive Family Tax Benefit (FTB) or who hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. The Energy Supplement will continue for income support payments and pensions.