Pension increase in March 2024: what to expect

Article published 7 February 2024

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The figures are in for the March 2024 pension increase, and the news isn't great

March 2024 pension increase

This week at CPSA we have been waiting in anticipation for the most recent figures for the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI) to be released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Over the past six months the PBLCI has increased by 1.5%. This follows last week’s announcement that CPI has increased by 1.8% in the same period.

This means that the Age Pension will most likely increase by 1.8% in March 2024. For reference, the last increase in September 2023 was 3.2%.

Unless something very unusual happens, it looks like the next indexation of social support payments is going to be very modest.

PBLCI vs. CPI 

CPI is the official measure of inflation in Australia and is calculated by the ABS. CPI measures changes in the cost of a select range of expenses, known as a ‘basket’. This ‘basket’ is updated yearly to make sure that it reflects household spending patterns.

The PBLCI is similar but measures a different ‘basket’ of goods. Without going into too much detail, the PBLCI measures the change in prices of things that people receiving a pension (or other government payment) are more likely to spend their money on.

What does 1.8% look like?

CPSA have crunched the numbers and have figured out how much extra you can expect from the March 2024 pension increase if you are receiving the maximum Age Pension, Carer Payment, Service Pension or DSP.

Please keep in mind that these figures are approximate. The final amounts may be slightly different due to rounding and are subject to changes that CPSA may not be aware of.

Couples rate: if you receive a combined payment you can expect to receive $29.40 extra per fortnight, or $14.70 each. The total amount will vary but if you are currently receiving the full combined pension rate of $1,653.40 you are set to receive $1,682.80 from 20 March 2024.

Single rate (including couples apart due to ill health): the single rate is expected to increase by $19.50 a fortnight. If you are currently being paid $1,096.70 each fortnight, you will likely receive $1,116.20 after the March 2024 pension increase.

These estimates include the energy supplement, which is not indexed and is only available to those who were receiving it before 20 September 2016.

JobSeeker payment will also be indexed on March 20. The maximum rate for people over 55 should increase by approximately $14.40 to $816.90 a fortnight. The maximum rate for single people with no children should increase by $13.50, and the partnered rate by $12.30.

What now?

Considering the current economic climate, this news isn’t great – at least not in the short-term. It is good that inflation has slowed down, but until interest rates drop things are going to remain tight for those of us without much in the way of savings.

It will also be interesting to see what announcements are made in relation to deeming rates, which are set to change from July 2024.

In the meantime CPSA will continue to advocate for increases to rebates and concessions for people on a low income, as well as the indexation of payment rates and income limits.

If you would like to see the full table used for this article, please get in touch.

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For more information please email our media contact at media@cpsa.org.au

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