Seniors have warned Joe Hockey he faces a political backlash if in next month's Budget he pushes up the qualifying age for the age pension.

The Treasurer used a speech yesterday to warn that spending on the age pension was unsustainable, signalling big changes, including a lift in the qualifying age, were on the agenda.

In 2009, then treasurer Wayne Swan announced plans to increase the qualifying age from 65 to 67. It will be phased in by 2023.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in his book Battlelines, signalled support for taking the age at which a person could get the pension to 70.

A report released overnight by the International Monetary Fund suggested that based on current settings, spending on health care and the pension would increase by $93 billion by 2030.

Already the age pension accounts for 10 per cent of total Budget spending at almost $40 billion.

Mr Hockey said we should celebrate the sharp rise in the number of people living well into old age, but it came at a cost to the Budget. He said the cost of discounted services for older people would also grow and changes were necessary now to deal with those higher costs.

"Over the next decade, spending on our age pension is projected to increase by around 70 per cent in today's dollars," he said.

"These trends will have a big impact on the sustainability of our Budget. There is no easy solution."

But National Seniors' chief executive Michael O'Neill said the Government should focus on creating jobs rather than trying to penalise older Australians.

He said justifying cuts "on the backs of older Australians" was not helpful.

"Australia's age pension age rises to 67 in 2023 - that's already significantly ahead of most other developed countries," Mr O'Neill said.

"For example, in the UK it rises to 67 in 2028 and in Canada it rises to 67 in 2029. Raising the pension age without creating jobs will simply shift older Australians from one form of welfare to another.

"It will be felt at the ballot box."

Mr Hockey said the IMF report highlighted an increase in the pension age was "worth consideration".

The West Australian

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