Centrelink Deductible Amount Formula

Centrelink Deductible Amount Formula

When determining the entitlements that you are eligible for in relation to the Centrelink Age Pension and some other social security payments, you are assessed using either the ‘Income Test’ or the ‘Assets Test’.

Under the income test, some forms of income are favourably assessed for Income Test purposes.

In some cases, the income is not assessed at all.

Income from superannuation pensions commenced post 1 January 2015 may not be so lucky, as they will be deemed just like any other investment asset. More on this later.

Income with favourable assessment

Certain income streams such as Allocated Pensions, Account Based Pensions, Market Linked Pensions and Annuities are favourably assessed.

What makes the assessment favourable?

Income such as rental income from an investment property or work income is assessed at face value (i.e. the amount received is the amount assessed for Income Test purposes).

Other types of income is based on a deeming rate. For instance, if you have $50,000 invested in a bank account, it is not the interest received that is counted towards the Income Test, but rather the amount that this $50,000 is deemed to earn.

The higher level of income received may reduce the amount of social security entitlements that you are eligible for. Therefore, by reducing the amount that is assessed, the higher your potential benefits.

Assessment of Income Streams

Most types of income streams are favourable assessed as they include a Centrelink Deductible Amount. The Centrelink Deductible Amount Formula is detailed further below.

USE THE CENTRELINK DEDUCTIBLE AMOUNT CALCULATOR BELOW 

Centrelink Deductible Amount Formula

Allocated Pensions, Account Based Pensions, Lifetime Annuties and Market Linked Pension

Deductible Amount p.a. = (Original Pension Purchase Price less Any Commutations throughout the life of the pension) ÷ Relevant Number

Where:

Purchase Price = The lump sum amount that was initially used to commence the pension

Commutations = lump sum withdrawals made from the capital value of the pension (not pension payments)

Relevant Number = Life Expectancy factor based on Life Expectancy Tables

Term Annuities

Deductible Amount p.a. = (Original Pension Purchase Price – Any Commutations throughout the life of the pension) ÷ Term of the Annuity

You can find more detailed information using the Guide to Social Security Law.

The Deductible Amount formula also applies to Non Commutable Account Based Pensions.

 

The Deductible Amount is the amount of your income stream that IS NOT assessed for Centrelink purposes.

The formula to determine the Deductible Amount varies depending on the type of income stream.

PENSIONS COMMENCED POST 1 JANUARY 2015

Superannuation Pension Income Streams commenced post 1 January 2015 may no longer include a Deductible Amount. Instead, it is proposed that the pension balance will be ‘deemed’ to earn an income, similar to superannuation accumulation accounts and most other investment assets.

To ensure your income stream is assessed under current rules, it needs to be commenced prior to 1 January 2015 and the pension member must be in receipt of a social security payment or allowance.

If the income stream is commenced prior to 1 January 2015, yet later fully commuted and re-commenced, it is expected that it will fall under the proposed rules and no longer include a Deductible Amount.

IMPORTANT

Calculating the Deductible Amount of an income stream for Centrelink purposes using the Centrelink Deductible Amount Formula is a complex area – particularly with new income stream products entering the market all the time. A Centrelink Officer will provide you with an accurate calculation of your Deductible Amount based on your personal circumstances.

If you would like anything clarified or have any further questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment in the section below and I will endeavour to respond within 24 hours.

Centrelink Deductible Amount Formula

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Chris Strano

Chris Strano is a specialist independent superannuation author for SuperGuy.com.au - one of Australia's leading superannuation information resources.

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23 thoughts on “Centrelink Deductible Amount Formula

  1. aw

    You Said. “To ensure your income stream is assessed under current rules, it needs to be commenced prior to 1 January 2015 and the pension member must be in receipt of a social security payment or particular concession card.”

    Two Q’s:
    1. I am retired(with 24k/per annum from an employer permanent invalidity super) and am 62 years of age SO, perhaps it is best I start an income stream from my private Super?? However, I am NOT be in receipt of any social security or concession card(except possibly being listed on my Wife’s temporary Heath care card)….does this matter?? Can I still start before 01 Jan 2015 and get the Centrelink deductible amt?

    2. ALL my contributions into my Super.pension account were AFTER tax(in fact savings that have already been taxed!) Does this make a difference? Or is the centrelink deductable only for any untaxed pension payments?? It seems unfair because, as said, I have already paid tax on these monies!

    cheers,
    aw

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      Hi aw

      Thank you for your questions. I have addressed these below:
      1. The proposed rules require you to have commenced the income stream prior to 1 Jan 2015 AND be a social security pension recipient or allowee immediately before 1 Jan 2015. You should check with a Centrelink officer on 13 23 00 if you are unsure about your situation.
      2. The tax components (pre-tax or post-tax contributions) that make up your superannuation balance are irrelevant for Centrelink assessment purposes. The Centrelink Deductible Amount formula is based on the purchase price of your income stream and life expectancy at commencement of the income stream – as detailed in the article above – and take into account gross payments received, less the deductible amount.

      Hope this has helped,
      Chris

  2. Paul M

    Nice clear writing thanks. I was running an allocated pension with a managed fund and also an accumulation superannuation. I had drawn some pension and also made various commutations. At age 69 I have set up a Self Managed Super Fund and rolled both managed funds into it then added more non concessional contributions bringing the total to $410,000 and from there I have (with all the right documentations) resolved to pay myself a pension from the whole account. The calculation for the minimum is around $14,700 . However using the formula , and a fresh start , my number is 15.49 and hence deductible amount for Centrelink purpose calculates at $26,469 , which will suit me just fine as I need to draw that much anyway. Is it basically that simple or have I missed some trap or trick due to the previous (now rolled over) pension etc.
    If it is relevant, the components are 107769 concessional and $392,231 , Reminder I am 69 and applying for aged pension.

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      Hi Paul
      Thanks for your queries.
      Yes, assuming you commenced a brand new Account Based Pension after the consolidation with a sum of $410,000 and at age 69, your relevant number is 15.49 and your deductible amount is $26,469 p.a.
      Therefore, any pension payments received from this source up to $26,469 will not be assessable for Centrelink purposes.
      The previous (now non-existent) allocated pensions/accumulation accounts are irrelevant.Likewise, the tax components are irrelevant also.
      Do you realise the components add to $500,000 not $410,000? If your balance is now $500,000, I’m not sure how you have come up with a minimum pension income of $14,700.
      Your minimum, based on your age, should be 5% of your account balance on 1 July http://www.superguy.com.au/minimum-pension-payments/
      Please confirm your deductible amount with Centrlelink by providing them with your pension purchase price, any commutations and date of commencement to ensure they assess your situation accurately.

  3. Mike M

    I am trying to compare the pre Jan 2015 rules and the post Jan 2015 as to whether to set up an allocated pension now or after Jan 2015. My question is with the pre 2015 rules. Does the deductible amount stay the same for the full life of the Allocated Pension, in my case it works out to a bit over $21,000, and I’ll probably be under the assets test for the first few years and income test for the rest. If so and I index the amount of allocated Pension I’m drawing, the reduced Centrelink pension stays pretty much the same apart from a portion of the annual increases until my allocated pension runs out. From what I’ve worked out so far the post 2015 would give me a better outcome

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      Hi Mike
      Yes, the deductible amount stays the same for the life of the pension (unless you make a commutation, then deductible amount needs to be recalculated). Therefore the pre 2015 assessment may result in more and more of your income being assessable over time due to indexation of the income stream you receive and a static deductible amount. It is definitely possible that the post 2015 deeming assessment of your allocated pension would be more favourable. The comparison of the pre and post assessment is a case by case basis.

  4. andrew urch

    I am currently drawing an ncap and intend to retire in February 2015 at age 63, commute my pension and leave my accumulation super account running until I turn 65 (my wife is receiving a dsp), because I already have the ncap in place will I still be entitled to the deductable ammount.

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      G’day Andrew
      To ensure your income stream is assessed under current (deductible amount) rules, it needs to be commenced prior to 1 January 2015 AND you must be in receipt of a social security payment or allowance. If you commute your pension in full (and commence a new one later), the new one will not be assessed under current rules. It will be deemed.

  5. Wayne Hummelstad

    Hi Chris,
    I understand that I can reduce my Relevant Number currently used by Centrelink simply by instructing the my SMSF Trustee to transfer the funds from my existing Account Based Pension into Accumulation on day 1 and then instructing the Trustee to start a new Account Based Pension from Accumulation on day 2. I then send Centrelink a completed “details of income stream product”. My first question is – is it that simple? and secondarily how do I make it clear to Centrelink that this is a new income stream and not one that is additional to the the one they currently have on their records.

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      Hi Wayne, quick answer – yes it is that simple. This is known as a pension ‘refresh’. You notify Centrelink that the old income stream no longer exists and a new one has commenced.

      2 main things to be mindful of:
      1. After 1 January 2015 once you commute a pension (refresh – roll back to accumulation phase), your new income stream will no longer include a deductible amount. It will be deemed, as you are effectively commencing a new pension. http://www.humanservices.gov.au/corporate/publications-and-resources/budget/1314/measures/older-australians/29-10728
      2. A pension refresh will not always increase the deductible amount. Let’s look at an example. If you originally commenced a pension at age 62 with a balance of $400,000, your deductible amount would be $19,083. If you refreshed your pension 4 years later, at a time when your balance was $300,000, your deductible amount would only be $16,891. In this instance it would have been better to not refresh your pension. However, if the balance was still $400,000 4 years later, the new deductible amount would be $22,522.

      You need to take into account your new balance as well as your current age. If there has been a decline in your balance, it may not be beneficial to refresh the pension.
      Hope this makes sense ?!?!

  6. John McLennan

    Two thirds of the assets of my SMSF are in my wife’s benefits (who is 10years younger than me). I can’t decide whether to commence an account based pension from 1st December, 2014 and be ‘grandfathered’. I receive a part pension and my benefits are approximately $250,000. I having difficulty in determining which is the best course of action – pre Jan 2015 or post Jan 2015. Is there a way I can determine this? I also have one further query. If I did start a pension and was ‘grandfathered’ but later decided to take a lump sum, would the pension be reassessed under the new Centrelink rules commencing on 1st January 2015? If this is so should I lower the starting pension amount and leave an amount in my accumulation account.

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      Hi John
      The immediate best course of action short term might be determining the annual income that would be assessable based on the ‘deductible amount’ approach compared to the ‘deeming’ approach (http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/deeming). The lower assessable income should provide higher Age Pension benefits if you are assessed under the Centrelink Income Test.

      The best course long term is harder to determine, as it is based on the income you will draw, the earnings/fluctuations of your account balance (for deeming purposes), changes in legislation/deeming rates, etc. At age 71 and purchase price of $250,000 you will have a deductible amount of $17,806. If you consistently draw an income below this amount, non of the income will be assessed.

      Partial commutations will reduce the deductible amount but I do not believe they will cause a pre-2015 pension to be assessed under the post 2015 rules, unless it is a full commutation.

  7. geoff mitchell

    Totally confused.
    My wife and I took out account based pensions on 1st July 2002. We are now both retired.
    My deductible amount is $29051.00 and my wife $11995.00. We are asset tested and our assets is now combined(self managed) at $945000.00.
    I take out $50,000 and my wife $30,000 a year but find that any variation to these figures causes our pension(small) to be stopped. What is the maximum we could take out each year without jepardising the pension

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      Hi Geoff

      I’m guessing that you must be borderline on Centrelink assessment between the asset test and income test. As you say, you are assessed under the assets test, but slight increases to your nominated income result in you losing the Age Pension, which likely means that you switch (from assets tested) to become income tested.

      Any amount above the deductible amount is fully assessable income.

      You can determine how close you are to exceeding the thresholds using the income and assets test here http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/age-pension or the Centrelink rates estimator here https://www.centrelink.gov.au/RateEstimatorsWeb/cre.do

      You need to remember to include all other assets and sources of income, as well as your SMSF balance and pension payments.

      Alternatively, phone Centrelink 132300 and they are usually happy to run a ‘what if’ scenario based on your personal circumstance.

      Hope this helps

  8. Ken Wright

    Hi Chris. My wife and I currently have Low Income Health Care Cards, We don’t receive any Centrelink pension because we exceed the assets test We have two allocated pensions both in my wifes name , that were commenced in September 2012. We understand that under the new rules from 1st Jan 2015 affecting allocated pensions our account balances will be deemed to earn a certain income. because we believe that the new rules are not grandfatherd for Low Income Health Care Cards. Like they are for the Aged Pension and the Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card.
    Questions. Do you know if Centre link count the annual pension drawdown ( less the deductable amount) as well as the deemed income for the income test. And for the deeming rate will they use ” Couple Non-Pensioner Allowees each person ,First $39,800 @ 2 %, and excess over this at 3.5%.”
    Because both Allocated Pensions are in my wifes name does this mean they wont count the deemed income when assessing my income, and I would retain the LIHCC, but will when assessing my wifes income and she would most likely loose her LIHCC. Hoping you can help.

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      Hi Ken
      This is a good question and one I am not 100% sure of. However, I have found a page on the human services website that explains the different types of income assessed for the LIHCC. It notes ‘deemed income’ and ‘income from income stream products’ as separate items, suggesting that the actual income you receive from your income streams is assessed, rather than the deemed income.

      Check it out here.http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/centrelink/low-income-health-care-card/income-test

      As far as who the income is applied against, I believe that your total combined income is divided by 2 – regardless of who the owner/recipient of income is.

      Given the recent changes to assessment of income streams, I think it would be safer to contact Centrelink.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. I’d be interested to hear the outcome.

      Chris

  9. Jeff Blanchard

    Hi Chris , Hope you are still monitoring this site
    I have a two person SMSF , drawing an account based pension , , and are also in receipt of a part age pension from centrelink , payable on assets test . My draw down is the 5% for my age . All grandfathered as I turned 65 two years ago .
    Due to my good equity investments and management , my purchase price of my income stream has now been exceeded by about $15000 . My question is , do you have any ideas as to how centrelink view this sought of occurance . Obviuosly the value of my shares do go up and down and can vary up to $10000 more or less per day . I hope that centrelink dont take the view that because i have exceeded the original amount , that the amount is reset and thus i loose the grandfather benefit
    Your help would be appreciated

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      Hi Jeff, the ‘purchase price of your income stream’ is different to the ‘current value of your income stream’. The purchase price is static.

      The 5% income will vary based based on the value at 1 July of each year which may cause you to draw a higher income and have more income assessable. You should update Centrelink on a regular basis with the ‘current value’ of your income stream – especially if you are assessed under the assets test.

      The current value of your income stream will not affect your deductible amount or grandfathered status.

      1. Jeff Blanchard

        Thank you so much for answering my question . Very Helpful.
        The current climate and myths that these cigar smoking politicans are mouthing off about at the moment is quite upseting for people like me who have had Super account savings since 1972 and have done the right thing .This asumption that we all buy Landrovers , take Overseas cruises , have 20 million dollars homes and receive a part pension is NOT the norm.
        Thanks once again

  10. Jo

    Hi Chris,

    I also hope that you are still monitoring for conversation on this blog post! I have two queries (um, the first one has two parts) please.

    I have been trying to use the online Age Pension Calculator at http://yourpension.com.au/APCalc/index.html#CalcForm, which has been altered to include deeming on superannuation balances.

    However I am very confused about whether there is “double dipping” going on here – do I enter the pension account balance so that deeming is applied for income calculations AND ALSO enter the annual pension stream amount eg $10,000 per year or whatever?

    And if both are to be included, then should I use your above calculator to determine a deduction amount to reduce the income amount from the pension?

    When using the calculator, you start with the original balance, and then include any lump sum withdrawals. What happens after 15 years when your actual balance is perhaps halved due to the income drawn down from the pension account? Is this somehow built into the Age Factor value (or Relevant Number)?

    Mind you this last question is a moot point, if for pension accounts started after 1st Jan 2015, this calculation is not applicable!

    Thanks
    Jo

    1. Chris Strano Post author

      Hi Jo!
      1. The calculator you are talking about does not cater for pre 1 Jan 2015 income streams. HOWEVER, if you do have a pre2015 income stream, you could add the value in, say, the investment property section and the assessable income (actual income less deductible amount) in the rent section as a work around. If you do this, you should not add anything in the ‘actual’ allocated pension section.
      2. If it is a post 2015 pension, add the value in the allocated pension section and it will automatically calculate deeming. Do not include actual income received anywhere.
      3. In relation to your last question, note the difference between ‘lump sum withdrawals’ and ‘income draw down’ in your question. These are two different things. Any income withdrawn (i.e. pension payments) will not affect the deductible amount calculation. Only if a commutation is made from the capital value of the income stream is the calculation altered. Commutations are very rare these days, as a person who has commenced a standard account based pension can generally take a pension payment of up to 100% of the balance, whereas pre-2007 income payments were limited and commutations were made to access capital.

      hope this has helped!

      1. Jo

        Thank you very much for your answer.
        I think the pension calculator should make it clear on the final income screen that the income drawn from superannuation should not be included in the Pension Income field.

        With your help in getting it right, I’m now looking at a better result!

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