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Who is an accruing member?
Generally, when a person registers for the pension bonus scheme, they will be registering as an accruing member. This means that either they or their partner are currently working and deferring pension as a member or members of the scheme. Only periods of accruing membership contribute to bonus periods, and can be used to calculate the bonus payable.
Accruing membership requirements
A member of the pension bonus scheme has accruing membership if they:
- have registered,
- satisfy the eligibility criteria,
- are deferring pension
- are not a non-accruing member, and
- are under the upper age limit (ie are not a post 70/75 member).
Work test requirements
To accrue a bonus, accruing members must meet the work test for at least one full-year bonus period, either through their own work, or their partner's work (but not by adding their hours together).
Changes in membership status
A person's membership status may change during the deferral period due to their particular circumstances. The assessment of which periods are accruing, non-accruing and post 70/75 during deferral, occurs when a member seeks an evidentiary certificate or lodges a claim for the bonus.
The pension bonus scheme closed to new entrants on 20 September 2009. Existing members can continue in the scheme under the rules that existed prior to 20 September 2009. The pension bonus scheme provided an incentive for older Australians to remain in the workforce and defer receipt of income support pension. The incentive was a bonus, payable if all eligibility criteria and rules were satisfied.
The pension bonus was a once-only, tax-free lump sum payable to a person who, on reaching their special date of eligibility, voluntarily deferred retirement for at least one year and registered as a member of the scheme. The pension bonus was claimed at the same time as claiming pension and is calculated using the annual rate of basic pension payable at grant, multiplied by the bonus periods accrued.
A member of the pension bonus scheme has accruing membership once they have registered and are meeting the requirements of the work test.
A person's 'partner' is someone who is a member of a couple with that person.
Non-accruing membership status is given for a specified time when a person:
- triggers a disposal preclusion period,
- triggers a carer preclusion period by receiving either carer payment from Centrelink or ISS as a carer,
- is on extended, continuous sick leave for at least 4 weeks and not more than 26 weeks,
- is a non-working person registered for the scheme, who is waiting for their working partner to register, where the non-accruing status lasts until the partner registers,
- is a participant in the community Development Employment Program, or
- is in gaol.
Commission may, by Gazettal notice, declare that other kinds of members are non-accruing members.
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.
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.