5 tips to help you avoid a debt

14 December 2020

If you get Age Pension, these 5 tips may help you avoid a debt.

1. Tell us about any assets you and your partner own or partly own

You may have assets that have increased in value over time. If you forget to tell us about an asset or update its value, this can result in a debt.

Don’t rely on your financial planner, nominee or accountant to tell us about your assets.

You can check what assets you’ve told us about by using your Centrelink online account. Use our online guide to help you manage your income and assets details online.

You need to tell us about any changes to your assets within 14 days. Read more about how assets can affect your payment.

2. Make sure you tell us if you buy or sell shares

We revalue shares, market linked investments and securities on 20 March and 20 September each year. This means you don’t need to report changes to the value of your shares between these dates.

However, it’s very important you tell us if the number of shares you own changes.

Buying more shares or selling existing shares without telling us can result in a debt. The same rules apply to your partner and their investments, even if they’re not getting a payment from us.

Use our online guide to help you update your shares using your Centrelink online account.

3. Tell us about your income

Employment Income

If you or your partner get income from employment, including JobKeeper payment, you need to tell us how much you get within 14 days. This is so we can pay you the right amount.

From 7 December 2020, there are also changes to the way you report your employment income.

You can use our step-by-step guide to make sure you report correctly.

Other income

Most types of income count in the income test. This can include superannuation, regular gifts, life interests, lump sums, and income from board and lodging.

Read our guide to help you update your other income details using your Centrelink online account.

We use deeming to work out the income from your financial assets. We include this deemed income in your income test.

We consider account based investments, market linked investments, and some income streams to be financial assets.

Find more information on financial investments and how we assess them.

4. Remember to report any changes to your circumstances

You need to tell us about any changes to your circumstances within 14 days so we can pay you the right amount.

This includes changes to your address or if you start a new relationship, move in with your partner or stop living with your partner.

Read more about what you need to tell us.

5. Talk to a Financial Information Service (FIS) officer

Our free, confidential service, FIS can inform and educate you about financial matters.

Before making any major financial decisions, it’s a good idea to talk with one of our experienced FIS officers. They can discuss your options and help you understand how your choices might affect your financial position.

Read about how to contact our FIS officers.

Next steps

If you do have a debt or are worried about being overpaid, we are here to help.

Read more about Centrelink debts and overpayments - Services Australia.

Page last updated: 7 January 2021