The base rate for the pension is just $798 for singles and $602 each for couples. The poverty line is $851.
Those most at risk? Older women who rent their home and rely solely on the Pension.
Research has consistently shown the years between our late 60’s and early 80’s are supposed to be the happiest of our lives[i], but with the International Day of Older Persons tomorrow, what about those of us who are living on the edge?
Life below the poverty line
Picture this – you are a single woman, about 70 years of age. You have no superannuation and no savings. You may be in poor health and without family support.
You don’t own your own home so you have to rent somewhere and it’s not cheap – a room in a boarding house is the cheapest option at around $150 per week in Sydney or Melbourne.
You could move out to a rural or regional area to find something cheaper, but you would be living away from friends and familiar surroundings.
On the other hand, we have politicians taking private helicopter rides and Health Services Union officials who siphon off three-quarters of a million dollars or buy private beaches down at Palm Beach.
The silent majority
It’s all well and good to have these International Days, but as well as celebrating older people, we need to acknowledge those who don’t have a voice.
As our journalist Chris Baynes pointed out here last week, the number of 65-year-olds has jumped to 120,000, a 200 per cent increase since 2000.
That’s a lot more people heading for what should be the best years of their lives who could find themselves in this same position – and suffering in silence.
Let’s remember them too tomorrow.
Are you on the Age Pension? Do you think it provides an adequate amount enough to live on? Tell us your thoughts below.
The Benevolent Society has made a video titled ‘fix Pension Poverty’ where you can hear from real-life people living on the Age Pension – it’s well worth a look. Watch it here.
 ‘Adequacy of the Age Pension in Australia: An assessment of pensioner living standards’ – Per Capita, The Benevolent Society and The Longevity Hub – September 2016