THE Work Bonus is an income test concession for Age Pensioners and Veteran Affairs pensioners aged 60 and over. It provides for an extra income-free amount of $250 per fortnight to be used in the income test. The income must come from employment, with income from sole trading excluded.
From 1 July this year (subject to legislation passing) the amount of Work Bonus will increase to $300 per fortnight. Also, income from sole trading will qualify as employment income.
While these are improvements, the changes don’t address the need for annualisation of this income. For the Work Bonus to work well, there must be a fairly regular and similar income from employment throughout the financial year.
However, a lot of seasonal work occurs midway through the financial year (for example, marking of HSC exams) and is also paid in one or a few big amounts. The upshot is that those seasonal workers lose much or all of their pension payment during the fortnights in which they receive their pay.
The Work Bonus was set at $250 in 2011 and is not subject to indexation. Had it been indexed according to CPI, it would have been around $285 by now.
It is also important to remember that only those pensioners paid under the income test can benefit from the Work Bonus. If you are paid under the asset test, the Bonus is of no use to you.