Ten-year residency rule

Brenda isn’t sure how the 10-year residency rule is applied.

Ten-year residency rule

Brenda has lived in Australia for more than 10 years, but isn’t sure how the residency rule is applied and would like to know when she can claim an Age Pension.

Q. Brenda

I am 76 years old and came here in 1999 as a senior and was on a senior no-work visa. I was then given permission to work but I could only find contract work, so I started a class once a week to help me through and I did this for a period of six years. My permanent residency wasn't granted until 2008, and according to social security law, the 10 years wait has a clauseof five years on top of the 10 to my understanding.

I have been here 16 years and filed tax returns when I worked. My question is, do I have to still wait until 2018 to claim for an Age Pension? I have done years of workin the USA and UK, which I have been told should be considered. Can you advise?

A. The residency rule requires you to reside in Australia for 10 years, which must include a continuous period of five years. Any time spent out with Australia in this period will be added on to the 10 years.

A holiday of say two months would generally be considered to be a temporary absence.  If an absence from Australia is temporary, it does not interrupt the period of Australian residence.

The 10-year period would have commenced when you were granted permanent residency, so, under this rule, you would have to wait until 2018.

However, as you have spent time living and working in the US, you may be able to have this time counted under the international social security agreement that Australia has with the USA. There is no such agreement with the UK, so any time you spent living and working there will make no difference to your residency. However, if you are entitled to a UK pension, you will need to claim this and have it assessed when you make a claim for an Australian Age Pension.

To start the process, you should contact Centrelink on 13 2300 and discuss your options.


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    27th Jul 2015
    Is this 10 year rule only for foreigners? I'm an Aust citizen been working in Asia for 22+ years. I thought I can get pension straight away if I return and wait two years if I want to collect the pension overseas. Or is this 10 year thing new for everyone? Tks, Andrew
    Jim C
    27th Jul 2015
    XYZ - although i see where you are coming from with your questionsome "foreigners" are now full Australian citizens, of course, as I am. Although born in England, I came to Australia in 2005 as a Permanent Resident, became an Aus citizen at the first opportunity (after 2 years residency) in Jan 2008 and recently had my first payments of an Australian part pension after the 10 year permanent residency period.

    I suspect your rules as an Aus citizen from birth, even though you have worked in Asia for many years, are probably different but I am unaware of those. Someone will no doubt be on here to put you straight soon enough ;)
    27th Jul 2015
    XYZ, the best thing for you to do is contact Centrelink, make an in-person appointment, and find out exact details. Everyone wants to be helpful on this site, but with rules sometimes being very precise, especially in regards to government funding, it would be worth your while to phone 13 2300 and go from there.
    27th Jul 2015
    Thanks all for your advice. I will take Fast Eddie's advice and make an appt with Centrelink when I return to OZ. Cheers!
    27th Jul 2015
    Watch out for the 2 year rule ..... if you wish to collect a pension overseas .... Also during the 2 year period any time spent outside australia ,,,even a 2 week holiday your pension stops the day you depart and the period you are away from Aussie is added onto the 2 year period ... For a miserable 400 plus a few dollars I considered it a total waste as I could not exist in australia on 400 + a week... I am in europe and work partime making more and living a good life ,,,better than the forced poverty of a pensioner in Aussie ... The Government has not looked at it properly ... giving the basic pension to Aussies living overseas would save many millions as many aussies would depart from aussie,, the basic pension, if I remember correctly is about 360 a week... the rest is made up of additional funds for higher aussie costs to life... Aussie govt has no regard for the older generation who worked hard paid taxes and made aussie the great country it is ... KEZZO
    Not Senile Yet!
    28th Jul 2015
    A Country does not OWN it's citizens.....rather the Citizen's OWN the Country!!!
    Where does any Government get off by penalising it's citizens for having a holiday overseas by penalising them.
    This whole idea is wrong and needs to be reversed!!!!
    Provided a citizen is on holiday (ie retired) there should be no penalty.
    Those that work overseas for extended periods beyond 2 years...well obviously they are not paying tax here.....so this I get!!!
    But someone who has worked for 40-45 yrs and retired.....so has paid tax.....gets penalised?????
    This is WRONG!!!
    30th Jul 2015
    Hi Not Senile Yet,you fail to include if you have any superannuation or any other funds available to you.--I would advise you to go to-- Australian Government Department of Human Services-and search for ::age pension traveling outside Australia:: or Google "age pension while traveling outside Australia"you will get around 1,460,000 pages you can peruse
    28th Jul 2015
    My husband and I (now both 60) came from the UK on a 457 temporary visa in 2008 and gained permanent residency in 2012 then citizenship in 2013. We have lived and worked in Australia continuously since 2008, however despite paying full higher rate tax for those first four years, they are not included towards our eligibility for claiming the age pension. We will have to wait until we are 69 until we are eligible, even though by then we have lived, worked and paid tax for 14 years. How fair is that? It would appear that those coming in on a permanent visa, even if they have no skills, don't pay tax, and are reliant on the state from the get go have an advantage over us. Perhaps we should have come in by boat?
    Ted Wards
    13th Sep 2017
    Just a question Yorkie, have you and your lovely wife been entitled to free medicare during this period at all or have you had to pay or had private health care? Just wondering.

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