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How much super should I have in my 60s?

Our 60s tend to be the time when retirement becomes a reality, but even at this late stage it is possible to give your income a boost and stretch your super further. Let's dive in.
By · 4 Jan 2024
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4 Jan 2024 · 5 min read
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An Aussie man aged 60 has, on average, $231,254 in super, compared to an average of $185,264 for a woman of the same age[1]

Is this enough? Well, that depends. Super industry body ASFA says a single needs $595,000 to retire comfortably at age 67, while a couple needs $690,000 in total.

Those numbers can be daunting for plenty of people in their 60s. However, as I have noted throughout this series on super, ASFA’s figures don’t consider the Age Pension. This creates a somewhat unrealistic picture as 92% of Australia’s over-65s (around 2.6 million people) receive at least some level of Age Pension support.

Reflecting this, Super Consumers Australia[2] says you could potentially have as little as $91,000 in super, and still earn annual income of $36,000 in retirement once you allow for the Age Pension.

Either way, the thing about being in our 60s is that we can have reduced opportunities to throw cash into super from our working income.

In fact, many of us are keen to wind down our working week from age 60, which can mean living on less to begin with.

Strategies to boost your retirement income

The good news is that there are steps we can take to boost our income – and potentially our super, even in our 60s.

Here are three suggestions:

1. Embrace the work bonus

You may still be able to work and receive the Age Pension as long as you are pension-eligible and meet the income and assets tests. The Work Bonus scheme lets seniors earn up to $300 per fortnight before the maximum pension payment – that’s $204 a fortnight for singles and $360 a fortnight for couples – is impacted.

Any unused amount of the fortnightly $300 Work Bonus will accumulate in a Work Bonus income bank, up to a maximum amount of $11,800. This is especially useful if your paid work is irregular.

In addition, all new pensioners over Age Pension age receive a one-off $4,000 credit to their Work Bonus income bank.

2. Maximise your entitlements

Once you turn 60 you may be eligible for a Seniors Card. There are plenty of other cards that let over-60s access savings including the Pensioner Concession Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

It’s worth making the most of the savings and discounts these cards provide.

The website of National Seniors has a calculator that shows the maximum value of concessions you may be able to claim on things like transport, council rates, and so on.

Assuming you are eligible for the highest concessions available, the annual savings can range from $3,331 in the Northern Territory to $988 if you live in Victoria.

3. Look at how your super is taxed

During our working days, returns on super are taxed at 15%. Once we move into the pension, or drawdown, phase there is no tax.

That can make a big difference to how far your super stretches.

However, research by annuity provider Challenger shows around 1.3 million super accounts worth $225 billion belonging to people aged over-65 have not been switched over to 0% tax[3].

In response, the Federal Government recently launched a discussion paper on the pension phase of super. But it could take years for this to have any impact on the super system.

What matters is that you talk to your super fund as you approach retirement. Funds can be a good source of free or low cost advice when it comes to accessing your super in retirement.

At the same time, don’t overlook your investments outside of super. They are not subject to the same level of regulatory risk as super, and can be a valuable source of income – certainly until you reach Age Pension eligibility age, and potentially far beyond. 

 

[1] Source: www.canstar.com.au – 30/05/2023. Average balances based on those reported in the APRA Annual Superannuation Bulletin (June 2022).

[2]https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d2828f4ce1ef00001f592bb/t/64ed362463ac8b42713b9033/1693267492975/Retirement targets updated for cost of living - MR.pdf

[3] https://www.challenger.com.au/institutional/insights/super-members-missing-out-a-potential-$225bn-in-retirement

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Effie Zahos
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