Age Pension – The real basics

As a financial adviser with a background working at Centrelink, it’s natural that I specialise in providing advice to retirees regarding Age Pension entitlements. Much of my work involves helping clients to understand the Income and Assets Test. This can be a complex area. Often though, people’s enquiries about the Age Pension are far simpler, like “how do I claim Age Pension?” or “what is the best way to deal with Centrelink?”

Lining up at Centrelink to pick up a form or to ask a question can be a time-consuming and unpleasant experience. It seems rare that there are quiet periods at Centrelink. Because of this, Centrelink offer other avenues to contact them.

If you want to start receiving Age Pension payments, initial contact to Centrelink should probably be made via the phone or online via Centrelink’s website ( As part of your first contact, you make an ‘Intent to Claim’. This process involves collection of basic personal details. The Age Pension claim forms will then be posted out to you. If you lodge the claim forms within 14 days of making your “Intent to Claim’, your entitlement could be backdated to the date of your initial contact.

Once you have completed the claim forms, it is then best to take these to your local Centrelink office. It is unlikely that you will see anyone other than the customer service officer at reception (unless you have pre-booked an appointment), so best to have your ID ready for copying as well as any accompanying documents. They should accept your forms, copy your documents and forward it all to a processing centre. Typically, Age Pension applications can take up to one month to process. If further information is required form you, you will be advised by the post or a phone call.

By reading the claim form carefully and providing all relevant documents initially, hopefully the process of granting your Age Pension is a painless and brief process.

Once you are on the pension, you will need to keep Centrelink informed of any changes in your circumstances. Simple changes can be made over the phone or perhaps online. For more complex changes such as changing investments, it may be a better option to write to Centrelink. Providing a letter with appropriate documentation can be much less stressful than going into the office. This is my preferred method of contacting Centrelink, and with one central postal address, the chances of your correspondence being lost is minimal. You don’t need to head into your local Centrelink office every time something changes. Centrelink are rapidly broadening their contact options, making it much simpler and less stressful for you.

This website contains general advice which does not consider your particular circumstances. You should seek advice from Wakefield Partners who can consider if the general advice is right for you.