Notes on the data: Income support

Age pensioners, June 2017


Policy context: People who are described as ‘age pensioners’ are those who receive either an Age Pension from Centrelink or a Service Pension (Age) from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. An age pension is a restricted income paid by the Australian Government to those who generally do not have (or do not have much) income from other sources and who have reached the qualifying age, with the amount paid subject to income and asset tests.

Although older people today, on average, are wealthier than they were in previous generations, these averages mask significant variation in economic circumstances. There are large differences in the distribution of income, wealth and home ownership between older people, with the most disadvantaged being those who live alone and do not own their own home. Those people who enter older age as renters, low paid workers, or who have been out of the labour market for long periods of time (due to unemployment, disability or family responsibilities among other reasons) are the most likely to be exposed to financial vulnerability in older age. Financial limitations may lead to social exclusion, which can result in reduced quality of life, preventable illness and disability, premature institutionalisation and death [1].


  1. The Benevolent Society. A roadmap for ageing well: position paper. Sydney: The Benevolent Society; 2010.

Notes: The Age Pension is available from the Department of Human Services (DHS) for persons who have reached Age Pension age. The Age Pension age depends on a person's date of birth, as follows:

  • If born before 1/7/52, Age Pension age is 65
  • If born between 1/7/52 and 31/12/53, Age Pension age is 65.5
  • If born between 1/1/54 and 30/6/55, Age Pension age is 66
  • If born between 1/7/55 and 31/12/56, Age Pension age is 66.5
  • If born from 1/1/57 or later, Age Pension age is 67

Despite these changes in the Age Pension age, the population used to calculate the proportion of the population receiving the Age Pension remains at 65 years for this data release.

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) provides a Service Pension (Age) to eligible people who have reached 60 years.

Additional notes

The data show a number of areas as having proportions in excess of 100 per cent: these are clearly not accurate. The reason for this is not clear, although it may be the result of the address of the pension recipient data being a postcode which is not allocated to the correct small geographical area by the correspondence files available; it may also reflect inaccuracies in the denominator (the population of pensionable age), as population estimates at the small area level for age groups can be unreliable, in particular where the populations are small. It also indicates that it is possible that percentages of less than 100 per cent may also be overstated.

The Centrelink data were provided at the Population Health Area (PHA) and Local Government Area (LGA) levels and data cells with less than 5 counts were removed (confidentialised). Due to the confidentialisation of data cells, there may be undercounting of some of the final numbers presented, where the final data is based on combining two indicator sub-sets, which may include the aggregation of confidentialised and non-confidentialised cells.

The ‘Unknown’ data are calculated from the difference between the sum of the PHA or LGA data to the State/Territory totals, and include the sum of these confidentialised data.

PHA data may be the sum of freely available SA2 data if the publication of PHA data could reveal the value of confidentialised cells at the SA2 level. For these indicators, the number of people receiving this payment may be undercounted by up to four persons or either persons if two indicators are added together such as total unemployment which is the sum of Newstart and Youth allowance.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas


Numerator: People in receipt of an Age Pension from the Department of Human Services at June 2017


Denominator: Persons aged 65 years and over at June 2017


Detail of analysis: Percent


Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the Department of Social Services, June 2017; and ABS Estimated Resident Population, 30 June 2017.


© PHIDU This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia licence.