Two-year residency rule

The two-year residency rule is causing Dale some confusion.

Two-year residency rule

The two-year residency rule is causing Dale some confusion, so we have clarified the issues that surround the requirements, including what happens to your Age Pension.

Q. I'm a bit confused after looking at the Department of Human Services’ website.

Is there a waiting period of two years before you can travel extensively or live overseas and still receive the Age Pension or part Age Pension? For example, if you turn 65 and get an Age Pension do you have to wait until you’re 67 to leave the country? It appears they stop payments if you leave.

I understand that if you’re away longer than 26 weeks you lose benefits, but the two-year rule seems to confuse things.

Any clarity on this would be appreciated.

A. The two-year residency rule applies to those who have been residing outside of Australia and return to claim an Age Pension. If your principal residence has been in Australia prior to claiming the Age Pension, then you do not have to serve the two-year residency period should you wish to leave the country.

If you remain a resident of Australia, a temporary absence from Australia during this period would normally still be counted towards your two-year residence period.

If you plan to leave Australia permanently, your Pension Supplement payment rate will change and your Energy Supplement will cease. If it’s an extended temporary absence, this will happen after six weeks.

After six weeks absence, your pension will be paid at the Outside Australia rate and after 26 weeks absence, your pension depends on how long you have worked and lived in Australia. You can find out more about how your Australian working life residence is used to calculate your Age Pension payment here.


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    7th Aug 2015
    Note carefully that after six weeks absence, i.e on a long holiday, your health card is revoked and you have to re-apply at CentreLink to have it re-instated. We didn't have any problems at CentreLink getting re-instatement, in fact the service was excellant, but be warned.

    7th Aug 2015
    You were lucky miKer I went to Centrelink once to check on medibank details (the two seemed to be combined) I consider it to be the pits and will never go back again.

    I have never seen so many low lifes all in one place its a hell of a joint.
    7th Aug 2015
    And some of them had just finished one of them before they came in !:-)
    27th Jan 2017
    Welfare for the working classes is a mistake. You saw there particolor what happens to the working classes when Govt becomes their carer advisor provider -practically their parent. Nothing good happens.
    The answer is simple -give them work to earn their welfare. ..any work..anywhere...anytime. ""The Devil makes work for idle hands""

    And if you politicians don't know how to do that-how to design work for working classes- contact me and Ill tell you how in about 1 minute.
    7th Aug 2015
    The two year residency rule is an injustice to Australians who are eligible for a pension. I am surprised that there has not been a national uproar from pensioners. It basically means that a pensioner who has earned a pension and is subject to this rule cannot take a short holiday overseas (Bali for example) without losing the pension. At the same time politicians who make these rules are able to claim excessive amounts for family holiday travel.
    7th Aug 2015
    I'm third generation and proudly Australian. But I married a South American and left Australia (29 years ago). 8 years ago this man abandoned myself and our two Australian born children. All was lost. Our dream home auctioned and we were evicted. I found work and got through these difficult times here in South America. Unfortunately my Australian family were of little support at this crucial time. They kind of forgot me after leaving Australia for such a long time. Now I'm 61 years young but concerned about my future! Due to arthritis my health is not 100%. I still work full time here in South America but have no pension plan in this country. I feel it's time to return to Australia, work for as long as possible and then retire. But my problem is that I have not been able to get any information on health benefits and retirement. 5 years ago I was visiting Australia and could not get any clear info. From Centerlink at all. The Embassy here knows nothing!
    I'm in a dilemma and about to pack my bags and return to Australia to have a secure future for retirement
    7th Aug 2015
    Sorry but the comment went ahead of me. Can anyone give me advise or guidance on retirement in Australia. For an Aussie who yes lived, studied and worked in Australia, but then for some time has lived overseas.
    It's a total confusion for me. And I feel something I need to plan for in the near future.
    I have no savings nor properties. I rent and live week to week.
    7th Aug 2015
    Sorry to hear about the situation you are in, but there has to be an answer. My wife and I have, for the most part, always had satisfactory dealings with Centrelink who, I dare say, will be the ones you will have to approach. But, before doing that it may be prudent to find out what others think and get a feel of the bureaucratic water before diving in. One "agency" which may be of help is the Seniors' Enquiry Line (1300 135 500) who gives advice on a variety of issues and may direct you to yet another organisation. Finding out what questions to ask Centrelink are very important to resolving your plight, as a variety of solutions may be available, but suggestions are definitely not Centrelink's forte. I hope this has been of some assistance. Good luck.
    Brett (no longer) in China
    7th Aug 2015
    A confusing part of the article is -

    If your principal residence has been in Australia prior to claiming the Age Pension, then you do not have to serve the two-year residency period should you wish to leave the country.
    If you remain a resident of Australia, a temporary absence from Australia during this period would normally still be counted towards your two-year residence period.

    If you remain a resident of Australia - "remain" seems to suggest that you were a resident - not residing overseas. And then you wouldn't have to worry about the two year clause anyway. Or does this mean "If you become a resident again . . "?
    I've seen many of these articles, and there always seems to be a lack of definition about who the subject is, whether an expat or a resident, when discussing specifics.
    And does anyone know what a "temporary" absence is?
    Anyway, what the hell! I'm going to enjoy where I am, what I'm doing, and worry about details later - I very much doubt that the regulations of today will be anything like those of ten years time!! Life is too short to worry over much about what may happen that far in the future, when there is no guarantee that even the best answers now may be way off track by then.
    I'm teaching English around Asia. Don't speak any languages, the money is not great, but having an incredible time. And the people just love you. It's a great way to finish a working life.
    Hope every one else is in a great place too.
    28th Sep 2015
    I'm still confused by the condition: "if you returned to reside in Australia within the last two years and were transferred to or granted an Age Pension within that time, your pension will be stopped when you go overseas". Does this just mean I have to wait two years before I can move overseas and claim a pension OR does it mean that I can NEVER claim a pension when living overseas (even after residing in Australia for two years). This is a matter of some personal concern to me and clarification of this issue would be much appreciated.
    6th Nov 2015
    My case might be an interesting one. I arrived as a ' ten pound pom' in 1968, from the UK.
    I went back in October 2001, worked in the UK and returned in January 2004. I was basically following my sons back to the UK, as they wanted to experience the UK lifestyle.....which they loved.
    I applied for the age pension in APril 2011, after retiring from Qld Health. I was Social Worker. So, I am used to dealing with Centrelink. Like all organisation, they have some great workers - and some complete idiots.
    Therefore, I was not at all surprised that, two months after applying in Mt Isa and retiring to Cairns, I had not heard about my age pension. Apparently, they had ' lost ' it, but I only found this out by going to the Cairns Office and enquiring what had happened?
    The problem was fixed in days, as being a Social Worker, I knew all about Centrelink's reputation and had a full copy of everything I had given them in my original application.
    I was back paid to my original application date.
    In January 2014, I applied, mainly through boredom, to work as a locum worker for Qld Health. I was accepted immediately and stared work full time on 4th Jan 14.
    On 1st July 14, without warning and following Hockey's comments about the ' age of entitlement' being over for us age pensioners, I was cut off totally from the age pension. Nothing. Nil. Zero. Zilch. Including Health care card and discounts from Ergon Energy and Cairns City council.
    At the end of August 15, my contract with Qld Health ended, mainly due to the new Qld Govt wanting permanent workers, not contract workers (buying votes, I prefer to call it).
    So, after waiting until all my pay had been received and allowing a bit more time on top of that, I re-applied for the age pension. When on originally cut off the age pension, I was told by a front line worker that all I had to do was " come in and we will reinstate your pension if your income drops". Yeah, right, I remember thinking, as we are talking about Centrelink here - one of the most despised of Govt Depts.

    Anyway, this week, I received a part pension from Centrelink. $600 per fortnight. I work part time, on weekends, for an NGO, just to supplement my income.

    I report everything I can via the ' mygov' online system. I can now update my share investments online (could not do this in June 2014 prior the age pension being cut).
    I have already contacted them, online and updated shares, 3 times in the 1st week.
    Still it worked well. I printed off a receipt of the documents I sent them.

    Pension was adjusted immediately, via an online letter. No problem. I prefer to be on top of Centrelink, rather than Centrelink on top of me, if yo know what I mean.

    If anyone has information on how having to re-apply for the age pension affects my being paid the age pension if I decide to live overseas, I would appreciate it.
    Remember, my age pension was granted in April 2011, then stopped in July 2014, then granted again on 4th Nov 2015.
    I am seriously thinking of moving permanently overseas. People here seem to forget that all the information Centrelink holds about you is used to calculate how much you pay when you have to enter age care homes.

    I do get a part time pension from the UK for the 10 years I worked there. The UK full age pension, based on your National Insurance contributions,(NICs) is based on 30 years of working life. I have received this without fail since Centrelink forced me to apply. The UK pension is a RIGHT, not something that can be taken away.
    Think about that, the next time you are about to vote for an Australian politician.
    18th Apr 2017
    I have a query that I hope somebody can answer for me? I turn 65 in August 2017. I believe I am entitled to the pension at 65 years and 6 months as an Australian passport holder – Australian-born, Australian raised etc.? The problem I have is that I have spent the last 10 – 15 years living and working overseas except for a short stint in Australia in 2010. I was screwed badly (and unfairly) by the ATO several years ago so gave up all residency conditions until finally they admitted several years ago I was a non-resident for tax purposes. But now I am hearing that as a non-resident for tax purposes I am not entitled to the Australian pension despite paying taxes in Australia for at least 43 years. Can anyone advise?
    1st May 2017
    I think you should go back to Centrelink - you are entitled to a pension assuming you are under the threshold.
    1st May 2017
    I have an OAP friend who went on an eight day overseas trip. She hasn't been on the pension for 2 years however was so lonely her family paid for her to come and see them.
    She had no idea she couldn't leave the country without telling Centrelink. When she came home she had been sent a letter to say her pension was cancelled. She had no reserves of money. A friend took her to Centrelink three times before her pension was reinstated and she was fined $68. That is a huge loss for someone with so little.
    The money was not reinstated over the Easter holiday and if it wasn't for the charity of friends she would have had to go hungry.
    The stress on an old lady was shameful - I just couldn't believe we,as a nation, have becoming so mean. If they knew she was leaving the country they also knew she was coming back.
    28th Dec 2017
    I am 60, have lived in Australia since I was born and am considering semi retirement and moving overseas within the next 2 years. When I apply for the age pension in Australia when I turn 67 does the 2 year residency rule apply to me? do I need to return to Australia on a regular basis?

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