What help is available to Australians who can't get home?

Yaser’s father lives overseas and hasn’t been able to submit a pension claim. What are his options?

Q. Yaser
I am writing on behalf of my dad. He is 75 and living overseas, and doesn’t currently receive an Age Pension. He has not been able to get back to Australia because of COVID restrictions, so I was wondering if he would be able to submit a claim for the pension while living overseas because of these circumstances. If not, is there any other support available?

A. We have had this question come up a lot during the course of the pandemic, but unfortunately the pension is still only for Australian residents and Services Australia has not made any exceptions for people unable to get home during the pandemic.

Read: Fight to get early access to the Age Pension

There is a possibility that your father may be able to claim his pension while living overseas if he is residing in a country with which Australia has an International Social Security Arrangement.

However, as your father is unable to return to Australia due to the COVID restrictions, if he is experiencing financial distress, he may still be able to access financial support from the government.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has been offering loans to people in this situation, as a last resort.

Read: Ten reasons wealthy Australians shouldn’t get a pension

The loans, which must be repaid, are available for both emergency living costs and flights back to Australia.

According to DFAT, only those in genuine need will be provided this financial support and your father would need to prove that he was planning to return to Australia as soon as flights become available.

As part of the application process for one of these loans, your father would need to prove that he has made all reasonable efforts to seek financial assistance through other means.

Read: Age Pension increases to be ‘wiped out’

If your father is approved for the loan, he will have to agree to repay it within six months of the date on which he signs the deed.

If he is still experiencing financial hardship at the end of that time, he can apply to enter a repayment plan to pay the debt by instalments.

You can find out more about the loan assistance available through DFAT at smartraveller.gov.au.

Have you sought financial assistance from the government while stuck overseas? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Ben