October 1, 2016

Vol 6 Ed 9

Volume 6 Edition 9 Financial Care Services Newsletter

Online at Permalink: http://financialcareservices.com.au/newsletters/vol-6-ed-9/

Financial Care Services Newsletter by Christine Hopper
Independent aged care, lifestyle and financial advice for seniors

Volume 6 Edition 9 – 30 September 2016

Spring time is indexation increase time at Centrelink

The Commonwealth increased the full rates of income support benefit Pensions by 0.4% on 20 September 2016.  Thus the Centrelink Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment rates of benefit and the Pension Supplements were increased marginally.  The DVA Service Pension is payable at the same rates as the Age Pension.  Therefore DVA Service Pensioners and War Widow also had their pension rates increased.

The maximum Age Pension payment for a Single person is now $797.90 per fortnight.  If you receive at least one dollar per fortnight of Pension then you would also receive the Pension Supplements.  The Pension Supplements currently total $79.20 per fortnight for a single pensioner.

From 20 September 2016, a Single Age Pensioner would need to have an income over $1,757 per fortnight, $45,700 per year, before the Income Test cut-out her final one dollar per fortnight of Age Pension and all of the Supplements.

If a single senior had assets of $740,200 in addition to her home, then the 2016 Asset Test would exclude her from any Age Pension.

A Single non-homeowner with assets of $891,700 could get one dollar per fortnight of Age Pension in October 2016, plus all of the Supplements provided that she was not excluded by the Income Test.

Please be aware that the Pension you receive is the lower amount after checking against the Income Test and the Assets Test.

Remember that you cannot be paid at the single pensioner rate if you have a domestic partner.  Read more about who is a couple at Centrelink.

As from 20 September 2016, each member of a couple could receive a maximum Age Pension of $601.50 per fortnight plus Supplements of $59.70 per fortnight.

After the Pension increases 20 September 2016, an Age Pensioner couple living together could have a joint Income of $2,694 per fortnight, $70,000 per annum, and not be cut-off by the Income Test from entitlement to that last one dollar per fortnight each of Age Pension and the Pension Supplement.

A homeowner couple living together could have $1,097,000 of assets in addition to their home before the Asset Test excluded them from that last one dollar per fortnight each of Age Pension and the Pension Supplement.

A non-homeowner couple living together could have $1,248,000 of assets and get that last one dollar per fortnight each of Age Pension and the Pension Supplement provided that the Income Test had not excluded them from any Age Pension.

Once one member of a couple has entered residential aged care they are treated as a ‘couple separated by illness’.  Each member of a ‘couple separated by illness’ is entitled to the single rate of Age Pension but adjusted according to the couples means test.

Read more about the September 2016 increased Pension rates and asset cut off levels

2017 changes to Age Pension eligibility

The Age Pension, Service Pension and DSP  Asset Test allowances increase and the taper rate doubles on 1 January 2017.  As a result, some seniors could have their Pensions increased, some will get less and some will be Pensioners no longer.  Centrelink will be sending letters to the Pensioners impacted by the change in the Asset Test.

If you were hoping to start an Age Pension on your sixty fifth birthday late in 2017, you might be disappointed.  The minimum age for an Age Pension increases to 65 years and 6 months as from July 2017.

Women quietly accepted that the improvements in health over the last century has allowed them to stay fit for work long after the old female Age Pension Age of sixty years.  Over a long period, the female Age Pension Age increased by five years to match the male Age Pension Age in 2014.  With continuing improvements in health and fitness for work, the Age Pension Age will be increasing in steps to age 67 years in 2024.

Help is available. Christine at Financial Care Services is experienced with Centrelink Pension Applications and the many Centrelink financial means tests.

Financial Care Services offers Short Consultations for ‘personal financial factual information’ to help you check your financial position against the means tests for an Age Pension, DSP or a Carer Payment.

If you think that you might be eligible for a part Pension or Carer Payment now or in 2017, you can call Christine on 03 9808 0338 to arrange a Short Consultation, 45 minutes in person or by telephone and/or email to discuss your potential means tested Pension amount.

The fee for a Short Consultation for ‘personal financial factual information’ is $99.  Clients who are unable to attend the Financial Care Services office in Camberwell are welcome to Contact us via email to arrange for a Short personal financial factual information Consultation.

You can start the Short ‘personal financial factual information’ Consultation by emailing for the Financial Care Services Financial Services Guide and Age Pension Data form.

Indexation adjustments to aged care fee scales.

The Basic Daily fee for residential aged care is set at 85% of the single rate of Age Pension.  The Basic Daily fee increased by nineteen cents per day to $48.44 per day effective from 20 September 2016.

The 0.4% increase in the Age Pension is reflected in minor adjustments to the changeover points in the aged care means tested amount formula.  Centrelink will advise you if your means tested care fee amount is changing.

Also increased slightly were the caps on the amount of means tested care fees payable by an individual.

Help with understanding aged care fees and charges is available.  Christine at Financial Care Services could Illustrate the potential costs of placing a family member in your preferred residential aged care home.  Before you sign up for an aged care place, consult Christine to check how you could arrange the assets to afford that placement.

You can start the Aged care entrant Consultation by emailing for the Financial Care Services Financial Services Guide and Aged Care Checklist form.  Consultations can be arranged at short notice to assist families needing immediate entry to residential aged care.

Contact Christine at Financial Care Services to arrange for a aged care entry consultation. You will receive the Financial Care Services’ Financial Services Guide and the Financial Care Services Aged Care Checklist form.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Income Test increase in allowable income

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card provides similar pharmaceutical concessions to the Pensioner Concession Card.  The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is available to Australians with moderate incomes who have attained Age Pension Age.  There is no Assets test for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card only an Income Test.

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Income Test requires that the applicant’s “assessable income” must not exceed the current Income Test limits.  This “assessable income” is similar to your taxable income but with some other items included.

Read more about the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card rules.

As from September 2016, the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Income Test limit is an assessable annual income not exceeding $52,796 if you are single.

If you are a member of a couple then you will be assessed against your total combined income even if your partner is too young for a Seniors Health Card.  The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Income Test limit is a combined assessable annual income not exceeding $84,472 for a couple at Centrelink.  Remember that at Centrelink a couple is any two adults who share domestic arrangements and present socially as a couple.

A higher income limit of $105,592 of combined annual assessable income applies to couples who are separated by illness or who have one partner in prison. As soon as one partner moves out of home to respite or permanent aged care or prison, then the couple are treated as being separated by illness.

Help is available. Christine at Financial Care Services is experienced with Centrelink Pension Applications and the many Centrelink financial means tests.

Financial Care Services offers Short Consultations for ‘personal financial factual information’ to help you check your financial position against the means tests for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Age Pension, DSP or a Carer Payment.

If you think that you might be eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or part Pension now or in 2017, you can call Christine on 03 9808 0338 to arrange a Short Consultation, 45 minutes in person or by telephone and/or email to discuss your potential means tested Pension amount.

The fee for a Short Consultation for ‘personal financial factual information’ is $99.  Clients who are unable to attend the Financial Care Services office in Camberwell are welcome to Contact us via email to arrange for a Short personal financial factual information Consultation.

Contact Christine at Financial Care Services to arrange for a aged care entry consultation. You will receive the Financial Care Services’ Financial Services Guide and the Financial Care Services Aged Care Checklist form.

Spring cleaning to enhance safety

Spring cleaning at home could ensure that you can stay at home for another year.

To keep your outdoor spaces safe for seniors, you could weed the paths, wash off the winter moss and trim those overhanging branches.  While you are thinking about safe access, consider if your seniors need a ramp to the front porch rather than those steep steps.  Maybe a handrail would make access easier for tired limbs.

White lines on the front edge of dark steps help our vision impaired friends.  Reducing the risk of missing that last step could save anyone a nasty fall and a fractured limb.

Spring cleaning inside the home could remove potential poisons from forgetful seniors and inquisitive grandchildren.  Childproof medication boxes could deter access to every day pills.  Medications for occasional use could be stored in a locked box until their occasion arises.  A big red toolbox with a combination lock keeps our medications away from unauthorized hands.

Spring cleaning to declutter a senior’s home could cause significant grief and losses.  Some items might appear to be clutter.  But these could be valued by a senior as reminders of family, travels and careers.

Before you throw out anything, check the contents for valuables.  Maybe there is cash between the pages of those books.  Diligent family members have found cash under the lining of pantry shelves, in the pockets of old coats, within the velvet covers on lounge cushions and in biscuit tins in the kitchen.  Out in the shed, cash and medals were hidden in jam tins and under ‘junk’.

About  Financial Care Services

Christine at Financial Care Services understands the Centrelink system for assessing means tested aged care fees and Pensions.  Christine at Financial Care Services works with families to clarify the costs for their family member to enter residential aged care.

Financial Care Services is an independent financial advisory service specialising in retirees of modest means and aged care entrants. Our core values of working with clients in their lifetime financial planning supports claiming DVA and Centrelink entitlements.

Financial Care Services charges fees based on the work involved in advising you about pensions and aged care financial solutions and arranging your investments.

To make an appointment for confidential, independent and professional advice about aged care, retirement lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper  or call +61 3 9808 0338.

_______________________________________

Financial Care Services

Christine Hopper
Financial Care Services Pty Ltd
Independent aged care, lifestyle and financial advice for seniors in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Australian Financial Services Licence Number
299570 (check this at www.search.asic.gov.au/fsr/flb.html)
Authorised Representative Number
252529 (check this at www.search.asic.gov.au/fsr/far.html)

Telephone – call +61 3 9808 0338
Email – contact info@financialcareservices.com.au
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this newsletter is of a general nature only and does not constitute “financial advice”. You should obtain your own personal financial advice before investing any money or moving in to any retirement village, lifestyle community or aged care facility. Financial Care Services is licensed to provide financial advice to individual clients based on their personal situations.

All eligibility for Commonwealth benefits will be determined by Centrelink or DVA, based on your personal position as documented and the legislation and Regulations in force at that time.

© 2016 Financial Care Services Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.