Pensioners Charlie and Bess Harris say surviving on a pension means cutting back on things.
Pensioners Charlie and Bess Harris say surviving on a pension means cutting back on things. Sharyn O'Neill

Pension can't keep up with expenses

PENSIONERS might be set to get another increase in their fortnightly pay, but rising costs of living are still far exceeding that rate of growth.

Single people receiving the maximum rate of age, disability and carer pensions, as well as veterans' income support recipients will receive an extra $19.50 a fortnight from tomorrow, while pensioner couples combined on the maximum rate will receive an extra $29.60 a fortnight.

Bess, 80, and Charlie Harris, 82, said while the pension had been increasing, it hadn't done so at the same rate as everything else.

"I never ever thought I would go back to the old 'watching your pennies'," Charlie said.

He said it cost $5 to $10 more than six months ago to fill the car up with petrol. "You can live on the pension, but you have to watch what you spend," Bess said. "We eat well." 

"Mince is the main part of the beef side of it," Charlie said.

"And that's not so cheap now," Bess said.

The couple live in their own home, don't receive rent assistance and get about $1000 a fortnight.

"They say they want you to live in your own home," Charlie said.

"We've all got to pay for medication and that's gone up."


Could you live on $1000 a fortnight as a couple?

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Pension facts The pension increase is part of a rollout increase program the Federal Government started in September 2009.

The government's aim was to improve the indexation system to ensure the pension kept up with the cost of living.

Pensions are now indexed twice a year to the higher increase of two measures.

Over the past two years, two of the four increases were driven by pensioner living cost index and two by wages benchmark.