Industry expert: Aussies coming out of retirement at risk of losing benefits

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New term for Aussies having to jump back into the workforce: Unrets

The term unret is new and one which is now being used to describe a retiree who has un-retired.

According to Alex Jamieson, Australia’s leading financial advisor and founder of AJ Financial Planning, a lot of Australians are quietly un-retiring in the face of gruelling cost of living pressures, price rises and fee gouging.

“While I have helped many Aussies retire and enjoy retirement, I am also being approached by a lot of Australians who have retired and are wondering how they go about unretiring,” Jamieson said.

“Sadly, if your retirement plan hasn’t been created taking into account inflationary pressures like the type we are experiencing today, then you don’t have a lot of options.

“You can try and cut back costs and live with it, or you can look to get back into the workforce to start bridging the financial gap. The big question for a lot of people facing this issue is, what do I do and how do I do it.  Will getting back into the workforce affect my tax and benefit status.

“The answer is nearly always, yes.   So it is important to discuss these types of decisions with a good financial planner who can help you weigh through the challenges and implications.”

Jamieson said, the extra income may have an impact on your Centrelink Age Pension income test.

Work bonus

“The Work Bonus and income thresholds allow you to earn up to $300 per fortnight before your income is tested and before the Work Bonus is impacted,” Jamieson said.

According to the Department of Social Services, the Work Bonus supports and rewards pensioners of Age Pension age who work by allowing them to keep more of their pension when they earn income from work.

The Work Bonus increases the amount an eligible pensioner can earn from work before it affects their pension rate. Under the Work Bonus, the first $300 of fortnightly income from work is not counted under the pension income test.

The Work Bonus operates in addition to the pension income free area. From 1 July 2023, the pension income free area is $204 a fortnight for single pensioners, and for couples combined, it is $360 a fortnight. This means a single pensioner of Age Pension age with no other private income could earn up to $504 a fortnight from work and still receive the maximum rate of pension.

Income per year

“In addition to this, you can also utilise the Work Bonus which allows you to work a further $11,800 per annum on top of the $300 per fortnight,” Jamieson added.
“The general rule of thumb is that you can typically work around two days per week on a minimum casual basis before your Centrelink income test will be impacted by the extra income.

“For anyone considering coming out of retirement, it is important to take on a role where you have a high degree of control over what hours you work and the income you generate.   It is actually easier than you think to earn more money than you anticipated by taking on a few extra shifts or losing count of your worked hours.

“Small errors can make a big difference to your benefits and resultant tax rate.”


“Australians can access their super under the age of 60 if they finish working and do not intend on working again and between the ages of 60 and 64 if you leave work or stop working for an employer.  At 65 you can access all of your super, even if you are still working,” Jamieson said.

“If you decide to become an unret, your employer will be required to make super contributions to a fund on your behalf at the rate of 11 percent of your earnings.  So, it is important to ensure that these funds are going to the right place.

“Once you reach the age of 75, you are not required to make voluntary contributions unless they are downsizer contributions, however compulsory contributions paid by an employer under the super guarantee can still be paid no matter how old you are.”

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