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Super changes could hit 300,000 pensioners

As many as 300,000 retirees on a part-pension could be negatively affected by changes to the superannuation bill passed by the Coalition last week, according to Plato Investment Management.

Changes to the asset test rules mean less retirees will have access to a partial aged pension, Plato Investment Management said, as the upper limit for assets held by both home-owning individuals and couples will see reductions of $250,000 and $350,000 respectively.

Additionally, a doubling in the taper rate from a fortnightly reduction in pension payments of $1.50 to $3 for every $1,000 above the asset test amount – equating to $78 a year for every additional $1,000 - effectively means “the new taper rate assumes pensioner assets earn 7.8 per cent per annum”.

“In our low-return world, we believe most asset classes will likely struggle to deliver 7.8 per cent per annum in returns, especially the conservative asset classes such as cash and fixed income favoured by many in the pension phase,” said Plato managing director Don Hamson.

This reflects remarks made previously by the Association of Superannuation Funds Australia (ASFA) that changes to the taper rate and asset threshold will have an impact on how retirees plan for their retirement.

“While some individuals with relatively low retirement savings will receive a small increase in their age pension after 1 January 2017, others will receive a lower age pension, or none at all, until they run down their superannuation,” said ASFA chief executive Martin Fahy.

“As a result, many individuals and couples will require higher levels of private savings for a comfortable standard of living in retirement.”

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