Age pensioners welcome a boost

NORTH Coast senior citizens have welcomed a rise in the age pension which will come into affect on March 20.

Couples will receive an extra $44 a fortnight – more than double the increase they got from last year’s Federal Government pension reform.

Single pensioners will receive a boost of $29.40 a fortnight.

Ballina Senior Citizens Association president Cathy Butler said single pensioners found it hardest to survive and the increase would mean a lot to them.

“I only recently lost my husband and am now on the single pension,” she said.

“Many people struggle to make ends meet on this.”

The maximum single pension is $671.90 a fortnight. Couples receive $506.50 each.

The unusually high increases for March are a result of pensions being indexed in line with male total average weekly earnings.

Pension rates are normally indexed in March and September each year.

Mrs Butler said she was glad the pension was increased twice a year.

“But it doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the cost of living,” she said.

“Pensions go up, but then so does the cost of food and rent.”

The national lobby group, the Combined Pensioners and Super-annuants Association, said older people were ecstatic about the rise.

But the association’s policy co-ordinator, Charmaine Crowe, said she would like to see unem-ployment benefits and rent assistance increase.

“The unemployed will only receive an extra $6.80 per fortnight, thanks to being at the bottom of the income support hierarchy,” Ms Crowe said.

“The rent assistance will only go up by $1.60 a fortnight.”



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