deeming threshold changes 2024

Last week we promised an update on deeming thresholds. Along with the main income and asset threshold changes on 1 July the deeming thresholds will also be increased. This benefits all those whose assets are deemed to earn income by Centrelink. We have reported previously on the rates which remain frozen until 1 July 2025, but an increase to thresholds will be good news for many retirees.

Current deeming thresholds and rates

Current thresholdsNew thresholds
(1 July)
ChangeCurrent rates
(frozen until 30 June 2025)
Singles up to$60,400$62,600$22000.25%
Singles Above$60,400$62,6002.25%
Couples up to$100,200$103,800$36000.25%
Couples Above$100,200$103,8002.25%

What does this mean for you?

If you are on a full or part Age Pension – or are hoping to become eligible, it means that you may earn more Pension or may qualify as you will be ‘deemed’ to earn less income. Deeming rates are applied to financial assets which include:

  • Your super balance
  • Shares
  • Bank savings
  • Managed funds
  • Annuities (some have special treatment)
  • Home Equity Access Scheme (HEAS) advance payments 

among others.

The higher thresholds will translate into slightly more income for many retirees. But deeming is not as straightforward as it seems, that’s why our very helpful adviser, Nicole Bell, has spent a lot of time recently helping answer Retirement Essentials member questions on the way Centrelink measures income.

The devil’s in the detail

Deeming and Defined Benefit Pensions

Russell asked:

‘I appreciate your deeming rates explainer, but it would be good to mention those on a Defined Benefit Pension as well as super.’

Nicole replied:

Hi Russell, thanks for your note. The assessment under the income test for those in receipt of a Defined Benefit Pension (DBP) can be a little complicated but isn’t affected by changes in deeming rates (at least the assessment of the defined benefit payment itself isn’t affected, but if other financial assets are held there may be an impact as a result of that). However, if your pension is indexed, it likely increases a little of your assessable income each year when the payment increases with CPI (usually July). As to how much of the defined benefit income itself is assessed is where the complexity can come in. Some such pensions are allowed concessional treatment and others aren’t. If you are already in receipt of an Age Pension you should be able to find out how much of your Defined Benefit Pension is classed as ‘assessable’ income through the income and asset details section of your Centrelink MyGov account. 

Should Sheila reapply?

Sheila asked:

Q. We are a couple who do not receive an Age Pension but do have a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC). The income limit meant we were just over the threshold.
Since COVID our income remains similar but our expenses are now much higher than prior to that period. My husband is now 80 and I am 79 later this year. We live quite frugally and have not been able to budget for a real holiday since 2016.
Would you advise on whether it is in our interests to reapply?

Nicole responded:

Hi Sheila, thanks for reaching out. Life has certainly become much more expensive of late. I suggest you start with our free online Age Pension Eligibility Calculator to assess your current position, as eligibility can change over time. It is possible you may now be eligible for some support. If you would prefer to discuss your individual situation and what is affecting your assessment with someone, I would recommend an Entitlements Consultation. It is a 30-minute phone call, and you should walk away with a clear understanding of where you stand regarding the Age Pension and whether you may be eligible to apply. 

How does super affect retirement?

Paul is uncertain about super. He asked:

Q. Does your superannuation come into play when you are receiving a pension?

Nicole answered:

 If you are Age Pension age then Centrelink will recognise your superannuation money as an asset for the asset test calculation, and your super balance will be subject to deeming for the purposes of the income test. So it’s a two-step process.

What about the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?

David wonders how deeming affects his concession card:

Q. I have an Account-Based Pension (ABP) from which I annually withdraw the minimum amount required by the legislation. My wife is in a similar position but she is nine years younger at 63. Do both the annual withdrawal income and the deemed earnings on the pension balance count toward my entitlement for a CSHC?

Nicole replied:

This is often confusing for people. The balance of your Account-Based Pension is generally subject to deeming for the purposes of income test calculation. The actual amount of income that is drawn each year, be it the minimum or higher, is irrelevant to the calculations for your Age Pension entitlements (with a few exceptions for pre-2015 accounts which may have different treatment). 

Eric has an investment property

Eric wonders how Centrelink views investment properties:

Q. I am on a part-Age Pension and own an investment property. Does Centrelink apply the actual rental income or apply the deeming rate against the value of the property for the income test?

Nicole clarified the rules:

Thanks for your question. The value of your investment property is not subject to deeming if it is held in your personal name/s. Centrelink looks at the rental income less a few allowable deductions, usually obtained from your tax return. It’s a different story for properties held in a Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) though. 

Moving goal posts

Nearly all retirees will benefit from these changes to the thresholds – those on an Age Pension and those who are self-funded as well. The last few weeks we have spent a lot of time reporting on changes to superannuation, Age Pension entitlements and other concession cards. Are you bewildered by what seem to be rapidly moving goal posts? Or do you take such changes in your stride?  

Our advisers can help you in a number of ways including