After all of the media reports last year regarding the Australian government increasing the Centrelink pension age, there seems to be a lot of people now confused about just when they are ‘allowed’ to retire. I thought I would take this chance to go over this and try to explain the different factors in clear, simple terms.

 

What is the legal retirement age in Australia?

In short, there is none.  You can retire at any age you like.  For most people though, the date they choose to retire will be personally determined by these three factors:

The age at which you can access your superannuation;

The age at which you qualify for a Centrelink Age Pension, and

How much income you are generating in your own name outside of wages

 

When can you access your super?

Within the laws around superannuation there is something called the ‘preservation age’, which is the minimum age at which you can commence to draw a pension form your superannuation.  There have been changes to this age over the last few years, but the following table is a guide to each age group as it now stands.

 

DATE OF BIRTH PRESERVATION AGE
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963– 30 June 1964 59
From 1 July 1964 60

 

When can you access the aged pension?

In the 2014 Federal Budget, the age pension age was lifted with the goal of increasing this to 70 years of age by the year 2035.  In order to give people time to prepare for this, they took a staggered approach over the course of the intervening years.  The following table sets out the new pension ages from that budget.

 

DATE OF BIRTH BETWEEN ELIGIBLE PENSION AGE
1 July 1952 – 31 December 1953 65.55
1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955 66
1 July 1955 – 31 December 1956 66.5
1 January 1957 to 30 June 1958 67
1 July 1968– 31 December 1959 67.5
1 January 1960 to 30 June 1961 68
1 July 1961 to 31 December 1962 68.5
1 January 1963 to 30 June 1964 69
1 July 1964 to 31 December 1965 69.5
1 January 1966 and later 70

 

So the answer to ‘when can I retire?’ will be an individual choice into which you will need to factor whether you have enough assets to support yourself until you can either draw on your superannuation or receive a government pension.

The sooner each of us sits down and takes a good look at where our hard-earned money is being kept (i.e. inside or outside super) and how much we will require in retirement, the more prepared we will be to retire when it suits us, rather than being dictated to by the Government pension age.