Seniors call for $250k pension means test exemption for home sales

Advocacy group National Seniors is calling for a $250,000 exemption from the Age Pension means test to encourage older people to downsize.

The group is urging all political parties to adopt the policy position, ahead of the upcoming Federal Election

National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the exemption would encourage downsizing to more age-suitable and safe housing – increasing housing stock on the market, improving options for first home buyers.

“It would also help address the aged care crisis by freeing up funds for older Australians to delay moving into residential aged care, purchase the home care and health services they need, and avoid the some of the issues to be investigated by the Aged Care Royal Commission,” Mr Henschke said.

Natioal Seniors points to research indicating that people who did want to downsize were being dissuaded by the financial impact. Additionally the almost 20% of older Australians who don’t want to downsize would consider it if their pension wasn’t affected.

Mr Henschke said older Australians should be able to downsize without losing their pension.

“Many older people live in housing that is inappropriate for their needs and difficult and expensive to maintain,” he said.

“This increases the risk of injury and hospitalisation. It can also bring on early entry into residential aged care.”

“Many older people cite home maintenance issues as a key motivation for downsizing, while others are keen to stay in the home where they have raised their families or in an area that’s familiar.”

“But if they could sell without losing their pension, there’s no doubt many would.”

“This would free up existing homes for families and promote the construction of purpose-built homes for older Australians, as another key barrier to downsizing is a limited supply of ‘accessible’ housing stock with universal design features.”

The Federal Budget impact of such a change is unclear.

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