Seniors’ lobby says plan could be election winner

Article by Cheryl Field courtesy of The Senior.

A seniors’ lobby group has stepped up its campaign to push for pensioners to be able to work without being penalised.

National Seniors Australia has urged political candidates of all persuasions to consider the move, which it says “will get a big tick from seniors”.

Currently, age pensioners who choose to work while receiving the pension lose 50 cents in the dollar of their income once their working week exceeds seven-and-a-half hours.

National Seniors chief advocate Ian Henschke says allowing pensioners to earn more money would see them pay more in income tax, handing the government more revenue while also putting more money in pensioners’ pockets.

“It’s a winning formula,” he said.

“Pensioners win because they have more money in their retirement, the government wins because it receives more revenue and we all win because it will help grow the economy (research by Deloitte Access Economics shows even a modest increase in older people in the workforce of 5 per cent would add almost $48 billion to the economy in today’s terms).

“Who knows, it might even be an election winner.”

A National Seniors survey of around 4000 older Australians in February revealed that a fifth of pensioners would consider re-entering paid work after retirement. Another 16 per cent had already done so.

The main motivation was money (60 per cent), with other reasons including staying active (15 per cent) contributing to society (12 per cent), socialising (11 per cent) and having fun (11 per cent).

“This traps pensioners at low quality of life including too many in poverty.

“The nation is crying out for workers in so many industries.”

The survey also unveiled some tragic personal stories.

“Currently [my] only income is age pension and [I’m] in private rental, so it’s bloody tough,” wrote a 74-year-old.

“We have been scammed out of our retirement savings and despite my disability we need to find an income source,” wrote another person on the age pension.

A 69-year-old revealed that she had successfully sought work as a COVID-19 vaccinator because she wanted to support the healthcare workforce during the pandemic.

Another respondent, aged 69, who had 20 years’ experience in aged care, wrote they would be interested in returning to the industry – “but financially not worth it”.