Our products and services

Learn about super

Manage your super


Forms and resources

Join Hostplus

How to use your 
home to help fund 

your retirement

Published February 2024

Author image
Content Team
10 min read
Updated 17 Jun 2024
  • Retirement
  • retrement-plannng

Are you looking to boost your retirement income without drawing down too heavily on your super balance? You may be able to use the equity in your home.

If you or your partner are at Age Pension age and need more income to fund your retirement, you may be worried about drawing down on your super too quickly. After all, it’s there to help support you throughout the rest of your life.  

While there are different ways you can fund your retirement, the Home Equity Access Scheme (HEAS) could be a solution if you own your own home and meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the HEAS.  

Formerly known as the Pension Loans Scheme, the HEAS is offered through Services Australia and the Department of Veterans' Affairs. It's designed to provide Australians who are Age Pension age or older with a voluntary non-taxable loan from the government, secured against the value of their property (or part of it), to top up the retirement income they receive from the Age Pension and super.   

How does it work?

The HEAS works by using the equity in your home as security for a loan from the government. You can determine the proportion of your home's value to offer as security and choose to get the loan amount as a fortnightly amount, an advance payment of the loan as a lump sum, or a combination of both.

You’ll receive your set payment every fortnight until you reach the maximum amount of your loan. You may also be able to receive an advance payment as a lump sum, although this could affect subsequent fortnightly payments, under the scheme.  

The interest rate for loans under the scheme is set by the government. All HEAS loans come with a no-negative-equity guarantee, which means that the amount repayable will never exceed the value of your home. However, interest will accrue on your loan each fortnight on the loan balance, until you repay the loan in full. You must repay the loan to the government plus interest and legal costs.

How is the HEAS different from a reverse mortgage?

Reverse mortgages typically attract higher interest rates than standard home loans, meaning the amount owed could grow more quickly over time. 

The prospect that your family may have to repay substantially more than the principal amount borrowed can be frightening for some. The HEAS aims to offset these concerns via strict borrowing limits, the no-negative-equity guarantee and a government-controlled interest rate.  

See how using the HEAS helped a Hostplus member

Portrait of a mature woman sitting in a coffee shop.

Meet Susan.1 She’s single, 75 years old, and retired on a full Age Pension, while also drawing an income from the pension account she has with her super fund. Susan owns her home and estimates that it’s currently worth $800,000.

Susan would like to maintain an annual income of $40,000, but her pension account balance (currently $40,000) is getting low. It would only last approximately another three years, after which Susan would have to rely solely on the Age Pension. 

After receiving financial advice, Susan uses the HEAS to maintain her $40,000 income in retirement. She does this by drawing approximately $8,500 p.a. from the HEAS and $3,000 p.a from her pension account, on top of her Age Pension benefit.  

By the time she turns 90, Susan still has a small amount of super left in her pension account. She estimates that the value of her home would have grown to $1.3 million. The loan (including the interests accrued) under the HEAS will be around $300K, leaving her with approximately $1 million in home equity. 

Eligibility for the HEAS

You can apply for a loan under the HEAS if you or your partner are at Age Pension age or older. This varies from 65 to 67 depending on when you were born. You or your partner must own real estate in Australia with adequate insurance on the property and you can’t be bankrupt or subject to a personal insolvency agreement.  

There are also limits on the amount you can borrow (and therefore receive as a fortnightly payment) depending on if you currently receive a pension. For full details of eligibility requirements, visit the Services Australia website.  

How do I know if it’s right for me?

If you need to release equity in your home to help fund your retirement, the HEAS can offer more safety and security than many alternatives. But how much should you borrow? When can (and should) you pay it back? How does using the scheme impact your long-term retirement goals? 

These are difficult questions to answer by yourself, which is why we’re here to help. Our specialist financial planners can help you navigate the HEAS and its suitability for you. They can provide you with personal advice about what you could borrow and how it will affect your retirement over time.  

Ready to get in touch?

Call our Advice team on 1300 303 188 or use our convenient online contact form

1. This case study is intended for illustrative purposes only. The financial advice presented is for demonstration, not personalised recommendations. Actual financial decisions should be made after consulting a qualified advisor,  considering individual circumstances. The information is based on hypothetical data, and references to specific products are illustrative only. Please consider seeking professional advice before implementing any financial strategy.