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$4,000 Centrelink boost these Aussies can claim right now: ‘Straight up’

All new Age Pension recipients will have a starting Work Bonus balance of $4,000, rather than $0.

Centrelink and Australian money
The government permanently increased the Work Bonus balance from $7,800 to $11,800 this year. (Source: Getty)

Aussies claiming the Age Pension will get a $4,000 boost from Centrelink under changes to the Work Bonus scheme. More retirees are now considering heading back to the workforce as cost-of-living pressures continue to squeeze budgets.

The Work Bonus scheme allows pensioners to work more without having their Centrelink payments reduced. Pensioners can earn up to $300 each fortnight from work without losing their government payments and can bank any unused amount in an “income bank” for later use.

In January this year, the government permanently increased the Work Bonus income bank from $7,800 to $11,800. On top of that, from July 1, those claiming the pension for the first time will start off with a balance of $4,000 rather than $0. Those re-joining the scheme may also be eligible to top up their balance to $4,000.

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Financial adviser Alex Jamieson told Yahoo Finance someone who was claiming the Age Pension for the first time could initially “get $4,000 straight up” to their Work Bonus balance.

“The maximum that you can accrue is the $11,800 that can be utilised in the future … so at the end of the year, if you have an unused portion of that Work Bonus you continue to carry that forward into the next year,” Jamieson said.

Services Australia said those who lodged a claim between December 1, 2022 and June 30, 2024, will still get a one-off boost of $4,000 to their Work Bonus balance if they haven’t received one before.

There are around 195,000 new Age Pension recipients each year.

Are you an older Aussie who has returned to work? Share your story with tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com

The Work Bonus isn’t money that you can draw on to use for other things. Instead, pensioners can use it to help keep more of their pension if they are working.

You accrue $300 to your Work Bonus balance each fortnight, up to $11,800.

Centrelink then uses your Work Bonus balance to offset future income from work, which would otherwise be assessable under the income test.

Pensioners don’t need to apply for the Work Bonus. They just need to let Centrelink know of any income they receive from work. The government has more information about it here.

From July 1, single pensioners are able to receive up to $212 a fortnight of income from any source and still be eligible for the full pension. Couples can receive $372 a fortnight.

The Work Bonus, which only applies to income from paid employment, adds an extra $300 per fortnight. That means singles can earn $512 a fortnight and couples $672 a fortnight.

As a "rule of thumb", Jamieson said this meant pensioners could typically work around "one to two days per week".

Finding employment that offers a "fair bit of flexibility" can also be worth considering.

“So something like a casual job allows you to navigate some of the income test thresholds and that gives you that ability to be a little bit more manoeuvrable throughout the course of the year," he said.

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