Superannuation: Why being unmarried might be better for you financially

An advocacy group helping elderly people say it's a "little ridiculous" being single but living with a friend is how you get the most money from superannuation.

It comes after a married pensioner said it's unfair she gets less superannuation than someone who is single and living with another adult.

The woman told Stuff she gets less than her single friend, despite the fact her husband is not eligible to receive the pension. 

Work and Income said a married person gets a pension of $817.32 a fortnight, before tax, but a person sharing with someone who is not their spouse or partner gets $990.20.

Tauranga and Western Bay Grey Power association vice president David Marshall explained to AM how a single person living with another adult who isn't their partner gets more than a married person.  

"It doesn't appear to be fair at all in that you have to qualify as an individual to receive the New Zealand Super and then suddenly it depends on what your partner is doing," Marshall told AM co-host Ryan Bridge.

"This changed basically in November 2020 when a non-qualifying spouse couldn't be included in the New Zealand Super. So now if one of a couple qualifies, you get paid half the married rate, which is much less than a single person living alone and less than a single person living with someone else."

Marshall said one of the best ways to make the most money from superannuation is to be single and live with a friend.

"That's better [single living with a friend] or single living by yourself, but then you could argue the household costs would be more there if you have to maintain a house yourself," Marshall said 

"So single living with someone you're not married to or you're not in partnership with is more advantageous, which seems a little ridiculous." 

Marshall said elderly people who are renting are finding it the toughest in the current cost of living crisis. 

"I think it really depends on their financial history and also whether or not they are living alone," he told AM. 

"What we're finding in a recent survey we did - a survey of about 3000 of our members - those who are living alone and particularly those who rent, are the ones who are finding it hardest and most of those tend to be women who haven't had the savings that many of the men have been able to achieve during their lifetime. 

"So many of them have very little as far as reserves and in these times, we are seeing more older people in these situations going to food banks." 

Watch the full interview with David Marshall above.