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Devil in the deeming detail

At the end of this month, the Federal Government will begin back paying older Australians who receive the Age Pension, thanks to the cut in deeming rates.

National Seniors Australia led the campaign to cut the deeming rates.

They are now lower but remain higher than the cash rate, which they were once linked to.

Changes to the deeming rates took effect on 1 July but the payments won’t start until the end of September.

The new deeming rates are 1% for assets up to $51,800 for single pensioners ($86,200 for couples) and 3% for singles with assets above $51,800 (above $86,200 for couples).

The previous rates were 1.75% and 3.25%, respectively.

Cash splash barely a ripple

When the changes were made, newspaper headlines said the cut would be a “$800 a year bonus” and real “cash splash” for pensioners.

But the reality is set to be far different, according to The New Daily.

The news website discovered that the number of couples who will receive the full $800 a year “bonus” is just 191, less than 1% of all pensioners.

On average, single pensioners can expect an extra $249 a year, the equivalent of $5 per week.

It’s even less for couples - $3 a week.

The findings were obtained from documents released under freedom of information laws.

National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate, Ian Henschke told The New Daily that pensioners will be tricked when they receive the first payment because it is backdated three months and will be paid in a lump sum.

“Nobody has actually got the money yet,” he said.

“What we’ve got here is a classic case of the government not doing the right thing.”

National Seniors welcomed the cuts back in July but remains committed to campaigning for the rates to be brought into line with the cash rate and be set by an independent tribunal.

We will be launching a campaign to coincide with the government’s review of the retirement income system. In it, we will call for changes based on principles of fairness, adequacy, sustainability and certainty.

Stay tuned for further details.

In the meantime, you can check out some of our other campaigns below.

Together, we can make a difference by fighting for the rights of all older Australians.

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