- you must have registered for the scheme before 1 July 2014
- have not received Age Pension or any other income support payment other than Carer Payment since qualifying for Age Pension, and
- meet the work test rules for at least 12 months from the date your membership started
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
If you are registered for the Pension Bonus Scheme, you may be eligible to claim a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
The scheme is closed to new registrations.
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for the Pension Bonus Scheme
The scheme is closed to new registrations. You can only claim the Pension Bonus if you registered in the scheme before 1 July 2014 and have not received an income support payment excluding Carer Payment since qualifying for Age Pension.
The scheme is voluntary and allows registered members to keep on working and accrue periods of work that count toward a lump sum bonus when they stop working and claim Age Pension.
Income support payments include:
- Age Pension
- Disability Support Pension
- Special Benefit
- Bereavement Allowance
- Widow Allowance
- Veterans’ Affairs service pensions
Only one bonus is ever payable. You must claim your Pension Bonus at the same time you claim Age Pension. If you cannot get Age Pension, you cannot get a bonus.
Depending on your circumstances you may be better off claiming Age Pension now, rather than deferring the claim to get a Pension Bonus. We recommend you make an appointment with one of our Financial Information Service officers to get free and independent information to help you make this decision.
Use our Payment Finder to explore other payments you may be eligible for based on your situation.
Residence requirements for the Pension Bonus Scheme
To be eligible for the Pension Bonus Scheme you must satisfy residence requirements. You must be:
- an Australian resident on the day you lodge your claim, and
- physically present on the day you lodge your claim
You also need to have been an Australian resident for a continuous period of at least 10 years, or for a number of periods that total more than 10years, with one of the periods being at least 5 years, unless you:
- are a refugee or former refugee
- were getting Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance or Widow B Pension immediately before turning age pension age, or
- are a woman whose partner died while you were both Australian residents, and you have been an Australian resident for 2 years immediately before claiming Age Pension
If you have lived or worked in a country with which Australia has an international social security agreement, it may have helped you meet these residence requirements when you registered in the scheme. However, you cannot be paid if you need to use the provisions of an international social security agreement when claiming your bonus.
The work test for the Pension Bonus Scheme
The work test for the Pension Bonus Scheme requires you to complete at least 960 hours of paid work each year—that is, an average of 20 hours per week for 48 weeks each year.
Accruing and non-accruing membership under the Pension Bonus Scheme
Only accruing membership can be counted toward your Pension Bonus. Non-accruing membership may allow you to remain in the scheme even if you cannot work.
Suitability of the Pension Bonus Scheme
The Pension Bonus Scheme may not suit everyone who continues working and defers claiming Age Pension. Some people may be better off financially if they claim Age Pension or a Veterans' Affairs Service Pension while they work.
This can depend on:
- your current level of income and assets
- the amount of income you need when you retire from the workforce
- taxation issues
- superannuation, and
- health and lifestyle issues
We offer confidential, free, independent, expert information through our Financial Information Service (FIS). FIS officers can give you information to assist in planning for your future and retirement. You can also discuss your options with your own financial or taxation adviser. As with other financial plans, you will need to review your position from time to time.
We suggest registered members of the Pension Bonus Scheme keep up to date with the regular changes to pension rates and thresholds. You may be better off claiming Age Pension earlier than you originally planned.
FIS officers can also help you plan when to claim your bonus. To make an appointment or get information on investment planning, call 132 300.
Payment rates of the Pension Bonus Scheme
The payment amount you can get depends on a number of factors.
If you die before you get paid your bonus
Pension Bonus is a personal entitlement. If you pass away before you make a successful claim for the bonus, the bonus amount cannot be transferred to your estate.
If you have a partner and you pass away before you make a successful claim for Age Pension and Pension Bonus, your surviving partner may be entitled to a Pension Bonus Bereavement Payment. The amount payable is based on your accrued bonus periods.
If you are registered for the Pension Bonus Scheme separately from your partner, you do not lose your own entitlement if your partner passes away. If, however, you are not working and have been relying on your partner’s work to meet the work test requirements, you will need to start work or claim your bonus within 26 weeks of your partner’s death.
Check if you are eligible for this payment before you start your claim.
Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:
- find out what you need before you start your claim
- begin your claim
- provide your supporting documentation
- submit your claim
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Pension Bonus Scheme for veterans
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has a similar Pension Bonus Scheme. For information on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Pension Bonus Scheme, call 133 254, or Freecall 1800 555 254.
News for Seniors
As a member of the scheme, you will be sent News for Seniors, a magazine containing news on payments and services.
Record your work hours
You will need to keep a record of the work you do. This includes the:
- sort of work you are doing
- dates on which you did the work
- number of hours you worked
- number of hours you worked outside Australia, and
- names of your employers
Download a copy of the Pension Bonus Scheme work record.
Select the options that describe your circumstances then explore a suggested list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
Select your state and topics of interest to find links to government and community organisation support.