Exploring your available income options in retirement can help you understand your financial situation. Not every retirement income option will suit your needs. Do some research or contact your financial planner so you don’t miss an opportunity to supplement your Government Age Pension payments and super savings. In this article we’ll look at the Home Equity Access Scheme. This used to be called the Pension Loans Scheme and has been renamed Home Equity Access Scheme from 1 January 2022.1
For homeowners who are eligible, one retirement income option is a government initiative called the Home Equity Access Scheme (HEAS). It allows retirees who meet certain criteria to turn the equity in their homes into an income stream.
The Home Equity Access Scheme
Put simply, if you own property, the Home Equity Access Scheme allows you to take advantage of the equity in your home by borrowing a loan against the value of your property. You’ll receive that loan as a fortnightly income stream – it isn’t paid to you entirely as a lump sum like other home equity release products. You can choose how much you receive each fortnight – your combined loan and eligible pension payments could be up to 1.5 times your maximum pension rate.
AustralianSuper retirement expert Louise Aracas, says: ‘There’s a range of options to explore when it comes to funding your retirement — the Government Age Pension (GAP), your super savings, and any non-super savings, such as owning a property. To get the best retirement outcome many people need to take advantage of all 3 options in some way. For property owners, the Home Equity Access Scheme is one option to consider, and it means you don’t necessarily need to sell your house to access the equity.’
‘As with any financial product you need to have a plan. Knowing how and when you’ll get in and get out of a scheme or product can often be the key to attaining a beneficial outcome. The Home Equity Access Scheme relies on a several personal variables, so it’s always good to start off speaking to an adviser,’ says Aracas.
- Government Age Pension; OR
- Carer Payment; OR
- Disability Support Pension
In addition, you need to:
- be of Government Age Pension age or older;
- have appropriate insurance covering that real estate;
- not be bankrupt or subject to a personal insolvency agreement; and
- you or your partner need to own real estate in Australia to use as security.
If you own real estate, the Home Equity Access Scheme could be something to consider to boost your retirement income. But it’s a complex scheme, with several criteria that need to be explored in detail in relation to your personal situation. Services Australia now offers 2 calculators/estimators:
For more information, visit the Services Australia website, or speak with a financial adviser.
How it works
You draw an income from the equity in your home over time. You accrue interest on the income as you receive it until you pay off the loan. The income you’ll receive comes from the Australian Government – the same as Government Age Pension payments.
The Government is responsible for setting the interest rate of the Home Equity Access Scheme which currently sits at 3.95% per year1 from 1 January 2022. Compound interest is calculated fortnightly on the amount you’ve been paid to date — not the total amount you’re eligible to receive over time.
If your needs change, you can choose to stop receiving the Home Equity Access Scheme income at any time – you’re not locked in.
You don’t have to repay anything until you exit the scheme, which happens if you choose to pay off the loan, or if you pass away.
You can repay the money you receive through a Home Equity Access Scheme loan, either in part or full, whenever you’re ready or able. Any balance owing is taken from the value of your property if you choose to sell it, or when you and your surviving partner pass away.
If you’re a member of AustralianSuper, you have access to professional financial advice on a fee-for-service basis. You can speak with an advice team member to arrange an appointment, or find an approved adviser.
1. Services Australia – Home Equity Access Scheme. Interest rate correct at time of publication.
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