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How to maximise an individual's Age Pension entitlement by keeping their spouse's funds in the accumulation phase

In Pathfinder, once an individual reaches Age Pension age, their Age Pension payment is determined by their assessable assets and income relative to the legislated thresholds. If the individual has a spouse, then the spouse's income and assets are also included in the assessment.  However, if the spouse is under Age Pension age, any funds held in the accumulation phase of the spouse's super do not count towards the individual's assets test. So, Pathfinder may try to increase the accumulation phase balance of the spouse's super fund in order to increase the individual's Age Pension entitlement, by reducing their assessable assets

Pathfinder may increase the spouse's accumulation phase in a number of ways, including:

  • Within the spouse's super fund, rolling funds back from the pension phase to the accumulation phase
  • Depositing directly held investments into the spouse's super fund by making voluntary super contributions
  • Making large lump sum withdrawals from the individual's super fund and then making voluntary super contributions to the spouse's super

Whether Pathfinder decides to use this strategy and the exact method it uses for boosting the spouse's accumulation phase depends on several factors:

  • Both the individuals must meet the eligibility criteria
  • The spouse must have a super fund - if they do not already have one, you must add one.
  • The spouse is able to keep and/or transfer funds in the accumulation phase of their super (for more, see Understanding why funds are kept in in the accumulation phase of super instead of the pension phase)
  • The spouse is able to contribute more to their super fund - in additional to any limits you placed on the super funds, there are various limits on contributing to super, which Pathfinder will adhere to.
  • There are funds available to transfer to the spouse - these could come from directly held assets or withdrawals from the individual's super.

In the results, the best place to see if this rule is being taken advantage of is at the Results > Strategy Summary step:

  • For the super fund for the spouse, you will see their funds are being held in the accumulation phase
  • For the individual in the 'Retire' section, you will see they are receiving the Age Pension.

At the Results > Cash flows & Action items step, you can review the cash flows report to see the Age Pension entitlement of the individual.  Note that that if the spouse needs to rollover funds to their accumulation phase in order to boost the individual's Age Pension entitlement, then this boost will be reflected in the year after the rollovers happen.  This lets you compare what percentage of the Age Pension the individual receives before and after the action has been taken. For more, see Understanding why funds are kept in in the accumulation phase of super instead of the pension phase.

If you were expecting the individual to receive 100% of the Age Pension, and they are not, then it is possible that the individual's Age Pension is being restricted by the Income test, not the Assets test.  For more, see Investigating an Age Pension payment

Typically, once the spouse also reaches Age Pension age, they will roll over some or all funds to the pension phase of super.

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