Notes on the data: Income support

Age pensioners, June 2021


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 (for details of this pension, see separate note here). 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 Centrelink 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.

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.

Population Health Area (PHA) data were derived from already suppressed Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) data. Therefore, if a PHA includes an SA2 with suppressed data, there could be an undercount of up to 4 people in the PHA.

State and territory totals were also provided in the source data. Data in the ‘Unknown’ data row in the Excel data workbooks are calculated from the difference between the sum of the PHA data and the State/Territory totals and include the sum of these suppressed SA2 cells.

Data cells with counts of less than five were suppressed (confidentialised).


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


Numerator: People in receipt of an Age Pension from Centrelink at June 2021


Denominator: Persons aged 65 years and over at June 2020


Detail of analysis: Percent


Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on data from DSS Payment Demographic Data, June 2021, available from, accessed 16 August 2021; and Australian Bureau of Statistics Estimated Resident Population, 30 June 2020.


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