Work Bonus

How you can earn more income from work if you’re an age pensioner without reducing your pension.

Eligibility basics

  • over Age Pension age
  • getting income from employment
  • not getting Parenting Payment Single

Who can get it

You can get the Work Bonus if:

How to get it

You don’t need to apply for the Work Bonus if you’re a pensioner.

You must tell us about changes to your income.

If you get income from work, we’ll apply the Work Bonus to your income test.

The transitional rate of pension

This protects pensioners who would otherwise have got lower payments because of the 2009 Pension Reform.

It’s calculated using the old pension income test rules, which don’t include the Work Bonus.

We’ll compare your transitional rate with the standard pension rate which does include the Work Bonus.

As soon as your standard pension rate becomes equal to or higher than the transitional rate, we’ll always pay you the standard rate.

Because you would lose access to the transitional rate forever, you should ask us if any short term changes to your circumstances such as variations to your wages could change your rate.

For more information call the older Australians line or visit a service centre.


You need to tell us how much you earn. We use this information to apply the right Work Bonus and income test.

The Work Bonus applies to employment income you get from:

  • money you earn in and outside Australia
  • paid leave while still employed, and
  • director’s fees

We’ll add the bonus to your assessable income before you get your pension payment.

We won’t apply the bonus to:

  • leave if you’ve ended your employment
  • self-employment income
  • payments from sole traders or partnerships where you are a principal
  • investments, or
  • superannuation income

Your partner and the Work Bonus

The Work Bonus only reduces your partner’s assessable income if they:

  • are a pensioner of age pension age
  • earn money from work

You can’t use your Work Bonus for your partner’s wages. However, applying the Work Bonus to your wages will affect your combined income which means your partner may still benefit.

Work details

If you don’t work

If you don’t work, we’ll add $250 to your Work Bonus balance each fortnight. We’ll stop adding the Work Bonus once your balance reaches $6,500.

If you work

If you earn less than $250 a fortnight:

  • we’ll use some of your $250 work bonus to reduce your employment income to zero
  • we’ll add the rest of the $250 to your Work Bonus balance - for example, if you earn $150 in a fortnight, your Work Bonus balance will increase by $100

If you earn $250 a fortnight:

  • we’ll use all of your $250 Work Bonus to reduce your employment income to zero
  • your Work Bonus balance won’t change

If you earn more than $250 a fortnight:

  • we’ll use all of your fortnightly Work Bonus to reduce your employment income by $250
  • then we’ll reduce the remaining employment income by any Work Bonus balance you have

Work balance for retirees

Watch our video on how the Work Bonus helps retirees get Age Pension.

Manage your money

We’ve got advice and tools to help you with budgeting, borrowing and credit, and managing debt.

Read about how to manage your money.

My bank account is overdrawn

You can get help to manage your money if your bank account is overdrawn.

Read more about what to do if your account is overdrawn.

Page last updated: 12 May 2018