National Seniors Australia is calling on the Federal Government to allow age pensioners to earn up to $10000 a year without losing any of their benefits.
According to its research, the key issue confronting the majority (51 per cent) of full age pensioners was its adequacy to cover the cost of living.
Many were willing and able to work part-time, but a loss of pension income was a major disincentive.
National Seniors chief advocate Ian Henschke said under the existing system, known as the Work Bonus, age pensioners could earn up to $250 a fortnight to a maximum of $6500 a year without penalty.
Raising the limit to $10000 would lift the amount to $385 fortnightly.
With the single age pension, including supplements, set at $894.40 a fortnight, the increase meant pensioners would be earning $540 more than the minimum wage a year, or an extra $21 a fortnight.
‘‘This is hardly going to put them on easy street,’’ Mr Henschke said.
‘‘The cost of electricity and health insurance have skyrocketed and we are constantly hearing from seniors who are reluctant to use airconditioning in summer or heating in winter, or who go without food or other essential items to pay their power bills.’’
Mr Henschke said Australia’s ageing population meant the number of people aged 65 and over was expected to increase from 15 per cent now to more than 20 per cent by 2042 and 25 per cent in 2062.
‘‘Increasing the Work Bonus to $10000 per annum would be a good first step to improving the lot of age pensioners and reducing widespread pensioner poverty, which sits at around 30 per cent,’’ he said.
‘‘It provides a way for pensioners to help themselves and to make ends meet without having to rely further on government income support.’’