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Registration of Members of a Couple
Last amended: 12 August 2014
Couples who defer pension
When both members of a couple decide to defer pension and register for the pension bonus scheme (PBS), if they are both to receive the pension bonus they must each register when they reach pension bonus eligible age. Therefore, if only one member of a couple registers for the PBS, information should also be provided to their partner so they can investigate their eligibility for registration and a pension bonus. This is especially important where a partner is not working and may not be aware that they can use their partner's work test to pass their component of the work test.
Couple registered for scheme
For a couple to benefit from the PBS:
- only one member of the couple needs be working as the non-working member of the couple can use their partner's work test to pass their component of the work test,
- they must both meet all other eligibility criteria for the scheme,
- the minimum hours required can be performed by the person or their partner (but not by adding their hours together), and
- where the person had more than one partner during a full-year period of accruing membership, the total hours worked by those partners during that year must equal or exceed the minimum hours required. Each of those partners must have been either an accruing member of the scheme or a post 70/75 member of the DVA scheme or a post-75 member of the Centrelink scheme.
The non-working partner must be registered for the scheme if they wish to accrue a bonus period. They will have [glossary:non-accruing membership:] until their working partner registers for the scheme as an accruing member or post 70/75 member. However, a person may not be able to rely on their unregistered working partner to meet the definition of non-accruing member after 20 September 2009, unless the working partner is eligible to join the scheme.
Existing non-accruing members may therefore need to claim within 13 weeks of 20 September 2009, or start working themselves in order to accrue more bonus periods and therefore a higher bonus.
Working partner who is ineligible for bonus
In certain circumstances, a person who can never receive the bonus may wish to register, because their work may assist their partner (if also registered) to meet the work test. This might occur where the person:
- has previously received (but is not currently receiving) an excluded payment, or
- has turned 69 years of age (if deferring age service pension or income support supplement) by the date of their registration and cannot accrue one full year bonus period, or
- has turned 74 years of age (if deferring partner service pension) by the date of their registration and cannot accrue one full year bonus period.
Note: If there is no partner to benefit from the person participating in the scheme, there is no advantage in the ineligible person registering for the bonus. It is important that the person is made aware that they do not qualify to receive a bonus so they do not unrealistically pursue their pension bonus claim at a later date.
A person passes the work test for a full year period if they or their partner work at least 960 hours (640 hours to be worked in Australia) during that full year period. Partners cannot work the hours between them.
A member of the pension bonus scheme has accruing membership once they have registered and are meeting the requirements of the work test.
When a veteran with qualifying service or a war widow eligible to receive income support supplement reaches 70 years of age they become a Post 70 member of the Scheme. For other members, the age is 75 years. Once a person becomes a Post 70/75 member they can no longer accrue any more bonus periods, however, they can continue to work and defer pension as long as they continue to pass the work test.