SMSFs warned on hasty pension changes
SMSF practitioners have been cautioned that adjustments made to their clients’ estate planning in response to the transfer balance cap and other reforms could potentially impact their government benefits.
Cooper Partners director Jemma Sanderson said SMSF practitioners reviewing their clients’ estate planning, in light of the recent super reforms, need to carefully consider the implications of any changes for Centrelink benefits and the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
“People need to be mindful, when changing their pension accounts, of the impact that has on their Centrelink [payments],” Ms Sanderson said.
“So if they wanted to make a pension reversionary when it’s not at the moment, and they are receiving Centrelink benefits, then the terms in the changes and conditions of that pension may well impact those Centrelink benefits.”
Ms Sanderson said it isn’t just Centrelink payments that can be affected, but the Commonwealth Seniors Healthcare Card as well.
“The transfer balance cap becomes an issue when one member passes away when the combined balance in superannuation is more than $1.6 million,” she said.
Ms Sanderson observed that someone receiving aged pension benefits obviously would not have that level of assets, but could still be affected in other ways.
“The provisions changed on 1 January 2015 about how that income test worked. So if someone had an income test prior to then and they were in receipt of a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, the income they received from their superannuation pensions didn’t count towards that income test. For any new pensions or new applications for the healthcare card beyond January 2015 though, the income would count towards that income test.”
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.