On 14 May 2010 the Government announced that feed-in tariffs paid as an electricity account credit will not be assessed as income for pension purposes. But what else will be counted as income?
Feed-in tariffs paid as cash to pensioners (for example by cheque or by direct deposit) will continue to be counted as income for pension purposes. This adjusted policy is also the approach adopted by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The adjusted policy applies from 14 May 2010 and applies to all Social Security income support payments.
Each feed-in tariff paid as cash will be included under the income test for 12 months. For example if a pensioner received a cheque from their electricity company for $260 it will be counted as $10 income per fortnight for 26 fortnights.
Most feed-in tariff amounts paid to households are small – in line with the amount of electricity produced by household solar panels – and are well below the income test free areas. Information to hand is that most feed-in tariffs are paid as an electricity account credit.
Single pensioners are able to earn up to $142 a fortnight without affecting the amount of pension they receive, and can still receive a part-pension when they earn up to $1,544 a fortnight.
Couples combined can earn up to $248 a fortnight without affecting the amount of pension they receive, and can still receive a part-pension when they earn up to $2,362 a fortnight combined.
Maximum rate pensioners will generally not have their pension reduced because of feed-in tariff amounts paid as cash, although this can depend on their other income and assets.
People receiving a part rate pension may have their pension reduced by a small amount but this can depend on their other income and assets.
You should contact Centrelink if you would like to discuss your individual circumstances.
The assessment of feed-in tariffs paid in cash is no different to the rules for a pensioner who is paid income through rent on an investment property.
Information collated by Prateek Chourdia
MEngSc – Photovoltaics and Solar Energy, UNSW
Solar Energy Analyst
© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
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