Retirement should be a time to relax and enjoy life. For those with significant vision impairment or legal blindness in Australia, there's a specific benefit called the 'blind pension'. This is a type of income support, but it's different from the standard Age Pension. It's designed to provide financial assistance for people who are unable to work due to their vision impairment.
The Blind Pension is an income support payment provided by the Australian government through the Department of Human Services. It is a non-taxable, fortnightly payment that helps individuals with vision impairment cover their living expenses and maintain a decent standard of living.
Who qualifies as legally blind?
The Blind Pension is for pensioners with very limited or no vision. To be considered legally blind, you must have impaired vision in at least one out of four directions, as per the Social Security Regulations. Legal blindness might mean you can only see straight ahead with a very small field of vision, making it hard to judge the speed and distance of moving objects around you.
The full rate Age Pension is available to 'legally blind' seniors in Australia without any means testing. At the time of writing, the Blind Pension benefits are calculated at the same as the regular Age Pension, but the most notable difference is that applicants don't need to give Centrelink details about their assets and income.
How to claim the Age Pension - Blind
A medical specialist must confirm that you're permanently legally blind to qualify for this pension.
To apply, you must submit a claim form with a report from your eye specialist, including necessary information about your diagnosis. You can do this by filling out a form and submitting it online, by phone or by mail. An official Centrelink representative will then review your application.
Getting your classification right
The means test for the Age Pension in Australia considers both your income and assets to determine how much you're eligible to receive. It operates on a sliding scale, meaning that as your assets or income increase, your pension amount decreases. However, being classified as "legally blind" exempts you from this means test. This exclusion provides a significant advantage as you can receive the full Age Pension rate regardless of your assets or income level.
Simply put, if you have savings, own property, or have other sources of income, these will not affect your eligibility to receive the full Age Pension rate. Understanding your eligibility for different classifications can be tricky, but it's important to understand that there are different classifications so that you or your loved one receive the benefits they are entitled to.
At Olive Grove Financial Advice, we understand that navigating the aged care system and its various benefits can be an overwhelming task. We help you to understand your entitlements and create a plan to manage your funds as your care needs change. We'll guide you through the process of completing necessary forms and even engage with Centrelink. If you are applying for a pension or other benefits, it's important to have a plan to make sure you receive the entitlements you are eligible for as your care needs change.
Disclaimer: Prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article, Olive Grove Financial Advice recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Information in this article was correct and current as of 11 June 2023.
Olive Grove Financial Advice is operated by Bill Savellis through The Financial Advisor (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN 72 619 546 431, who is a Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 1278394) of Havana Financial Services Pty Ltd.