11th Sep 2010

Pension payments overseas


Q. Rosemary
I will be turning 68 in July 2011 and intend to retire and apply for the age pension. I joined the Pension Bonus scheme when I was 63. As my daughter and only grandchild live in the UK, I'm exploring what effect on my pension, living overseas for a continuous block of six months at a time, will have.

A. If a pension is paid under a social security agreement, the rate outside Australia is governed by that agreement. For most agreements this means a proportional pension rate applies immediately after departure.

If a pension is payable long-term while absent from Australia, it will generally be paid at a proportional rate. A proportional rate is paid based on a pensioner’s ‘Australian working life residence’. ‘Australian working life residence’ is the period of residence from age 16 to Age Pension age. A person need not have worked or paid tax during this period. All a person needs to have done is to have been an Australian resident.

A full means tested pension can be paid if a person has Australian working life residence of 25 years (300 months). A proportional pension can be paid for lesser periods. For example, the rate of pension for a man who lived in Australia for 20 years from age 50 to age 70 would be based on Australian working life residence of 15 years (180 months) from age 50 to age 65 (Age Pension age). He could be paid 181/300ths of a means tested pension outside Australia - the extra month is added to all calculations.

Below is some general information from Centrelink’s website that should be used only as a guide to what you may be entitled to when living outside of Australia. Individual circumstances will be taken into consideration and if you plan to be overseas for an extended period of time, you should contact your local Centrelink office

In certain circumstances, you can continue to get your payment if you leave Australia. If you:

· continue to meet qualifications (this means, for example, if you are on a Disability Support Pension, you remain incapacitated for work or if you get Parenting Payment Single or Carer Payment, you remain an Australian Resident, i.e. you do not leave permanently)
· are not being paid the pension under a social security agreement for which there are special rules, for example the United Kingdom agreement
· are not affected by ‘former residence’ provisions
· you can be paid the payments below:

Age Pension
You can get Age Pension for the total period of absence, however, after 26 weeks your rate may change.
Disability Support Pension
You can get Disability Support Pension for a maximum of 13 weeks.
Widow B Pension
You can get Widow B Pension for a limited period*.
Wife Pension
You can get Wife Pension for a limited period* of an absence.
Carer Payment
You can be paid Carer Payment for the first 13 weeks of ‘temporary’ absence, the person being cared for must be travelling with you.
Bereavement Allowance
You can be paid Bereavement Allowance during the entire period of qualification if you leave Australia.

*Limited Period generally means 13 weeks, except in some special circumstances.

For more information on claiming your pension while overseas, visit Centrelink.

Remember, no matter how short your absence from Australia, you need to let Centrelink know.

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