The Pensioner Concession Card Will Be Returned To Many Former Pensioners In October

Being one of those who lost their part pension and (quite valuable) pensioner concession card on January 1, 2017, we read with some interest the mention in the recent federal budget, of the re-issue of the card to people like us. Can you please confirm this is in train? Our municipal council is hot on our heels seeking proof we are eligible for a PCC discount on our rates this year.

A departmental spokesperson has confirmed that from October 9, 2017, the Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) will be reinstated to about 92,300 former pension recipients, including 3600 Department of Veterans' Affairs payment recipients.

Illustration: Simon Letch

The government recognises that those whose pensions were cancelled on January 1, 2017, due to the rebalancing of the assets test, lost their entitlement to a range of concessions without any change to their income or assets. They will reinstate the PCC to maximise concessions for these people. This change will help these people in accessing discounts and concessions offered by states, territories and private providers.

Consistent with the Health Care Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card they currently have, the PCC will be automatically reissued over time with an ongoing income and assets test exemption. Other eligibility requirements, such as portability conditions, will still need to be met.

These people will also retain the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card to ensure they continue to receive the Energy Supplement. The HCC will become redundant, and will be deactivated.

At June 30 my allocated pension balance was $1,654,000. I understand that I have until December 31 to withdraw $54,000. Can the regular "pension" payments count towards this total, leaving me to make a smaller additional withdrawal?

There are two separate requirements – as at June 30, 2017, your balance should be no more than $1.6 million in pension phase and you also have a requirement to draw the minimum pension in the current year. They are two separate issues, which means your pension cannot count for the amount you need to withdraw.

I already use a TTR and I am over 60. If I have $200,000 in a super fund and I receive 4 per cent as an income stream, do the tax changes from July 1, 2017, apply to the $200,000 or do they apply to any money that the $200,000 makes each year.

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The 15 per cent tax applies to the earnings within the fund – exactly the same as your super fund would pay if it was an accumulation mode.

I am 57, past my preservation age. I had two part-time jobs but recently left one. I had a different super account for each employer. I read somewhere that if you retire from one job then you can claim your super. Is this correct?

You are half right. Once you reach 60 you can access your superannuation by satisfying a condition of release which can be done by resigning from one job. However, before the age of 60 you need to sign a statement that you intend to retire permanently.

I'm 64 and already retired. I draw down an allocated pension from my super fund which has about $530,000 in it. I have put $250,000 from an inheritance into a term deposit while I decide what to do with that money. There is only $7000 owing on my mortgage which is linked to an offset account. What do you suggest? Should I leave the money in the term deposit or move it into super?

In view of your age, I think the best option would be to pay the $7000 off your mortgage and get it out of the way for good. The balance could be placed to superannuation as there would be no entry taxes, and lack of access would not be an issue. Just make sure you don't exceed the limits on contributions which are $100,000 a year for after-tax dollars – you may wish to seek advice on using the bring forward rule before you turn 65.

Noel Whittaker

The Sydney Morning Herald

26 July 2017

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