The concept of retirement is evolving, with fewer people working towards a definitive retirement date and more opting for a phased approach. Whether gradually transitioning out of the workforce, or contemplating a return after a hiatus, planning ahead becomes crucial to effectively navigate your new retirement journey.

During the 2022-23 financial year, there were 4.2 million retirees in Australia, with the average age being 56.9 years[i]. With the government Age Pension being the main source of income for retirees, strategic planning becomes essential for achieving a secure future. Here are some considerations to help you accomplish your retirement planning:

Choosing your retirement date

For those considering retirement in the near future, evaluating how to fund living expenses post-career becomes essential once you are no longer receiving a regular wage or salary. In Australia, there is no fixed retirement age; however, eligibility for the government Age Pension typically commences at age 67, meaning you will require alternative income sources if you wish to retire earlier[ii].

Access to superannuation hinges on reaching the preservation age, presently set at 59 and soon to increase to 60 based on date of birth (see Table 1). Withdrawals from super require meeting specific release conditions, with common criteria including permanent retirement at age 60. At 65, super access is granted irrespective of employment status, though subject to varying tax rates depending on whether you have reached your preservation age, or are aged 60 and over[iii].

Date of birth

Preservation age

Before 1 July 1960


1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961


1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962


1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963


1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964


From 1 July 1964


Table 1: Preservation age based on date of birth (ATO, 2024)

Paying for your retirement

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to how much income you will require in retirement, and determining the amount remains nuanced and dependent on individual lifestyles and post-retirement activities. A recent report from AIHW noted that approximately 62 per cent of individuals aged 65 and above rely predominately on the Age Pension and government subsidies for their retirement income[iv].

Eligibility for the Age Pension hinges on factors like age, residency, personal income and assets, influencing the payment amount, currently set at $1,682.80 per couple fortnightly[v]. Exploring additional income streams such as investment returns, contract work, or property rentals can increase retirement funds during full retirement or gradual transition phases.

Although home ownership levels are on the decline, most people still aspire to be debt-free by the time they retire, with a home fully paid for or close to it[vi]. Homes can even potentially serve as a source of retirement income through mechanisms like reverse mortgages or governmental schemes like the Home Equity Access Scheme[vii].

Using your super savings

While early retirement dreams may be enticing, longevity trends suggest retirees may need financial support for over two decades post-retirement. Online calculators offered by most super funds aid in estimating retirement balances and income prospects, as well as additional tools like ASIC’s MoneySmart Retirement Planner for comprehensive financial projections.

Transition-to-retirement (TTR) pensions can also present a viable option for easing into retirement, facilitating reduced work hours while leveraging super contributions to support income without compromising lifestyle. Tax implications on TTR pension payments vary based on age, with payments becoming tax-free post-age 60[viii].

Giving super a late boost

For those approaching retirement with additional income, perhaps from an inheritance or from downsizing your home, there are expanded opportunities to continue bolstering your superannuation.

Individuals can make personal non-concessional contributions of up to $120,000 a year (as at 1 July 2024) until you reach age 75, even if you are not working[ix]. You may also be eligible for a bring-forward arrangement, allowing up to $360,000 in a single year.

Upon reaching age 55, individuals planning on selling their current home can make a one-off downsizer contribution of up to $300,000 per person into their superannuation account, however eligibly requirements apply, including that you have had to own the home for 10 years or more before the sale[x].

Estimating how much you are likely to need in retirement

As everyone’s financial position and retirement needs are different, it’s impossible to predict exactly how much you will need when you retire. A useful starting point can be the Association of Superannuation Funds in Australia’s Retirement Standard, which estimates the income required to support two different retirement lifestyles[xi]:

Budgets for various households and living standards for those aged 65-84 (March quarter 2024)

Comfortable lifestyle (per annum)

Modern lifestyle (per annum)










Budgets for various households and living standards for those aged 85 and above (March quarter 2024)

Comfortable lifestyle (per annum)

Modern lifestyle (per annum)










Superannuation balances required to achieve ASFA’s two different retirement lifestyle)

Comfortable lifestyle

Modern lifestyle









Note: Budgets are based on detailed expenditure breakdowns for both lifestyles and are updated quarterly to reflect changes in the cost of living. Budgets assume home ownership and relatively good health. All figures are in today’s dollars using 2.75% AWE as a deflator and an assumed investment earning rate of 6%. The same savings are required for both couples and singles due to the impact of receiving the Age Pension. Lump sum estimates consider the receipt of the Age Pension both immediately and in the future.

It is also beneficial to explore the concessions tailored for older Australians, including state Seniors Cards offering transport and service discounts for those aged 60 and above working less than 20 hours weekly. Eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and Pensioners Concession Card further highlights the suite of perks accessible to retirees, fostering financial resilience and enhanced quality of life during the retirement phase.

If you would like to discuss your retirement options and how to fund them, contact our office today.

DISCLAIMER: All information on Focus Wealth Advisers is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider your personal circumstances and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.

[i] ABS (2024) Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia

[ii] Services Australia (2024) Who can get the Age Pension

[iii] ATO (2024) Super withdrawal options

[iv] AIHW (2023) Income support for older Australians

[v] Services Australia (2024) How much Age Pension you can get

[vi] AIHW (2023) Home ownership and housing tenure

[vii] Services Australia (2024) Home Equity Access Scheme

[viii] MoneySmart (2024) Transition to retirement

[ix] ATO (2024) Non-concessional contributions cap

[x] ATO (2024) Downsizer super contributions

[xi] ASFA (2024) ASFA Retirement Standard