Age Pensions overseas

Bill’s return to Australia didn’t go as planned and now that he has returned to Asia, he’s wondering if he can claim an Age Pension to help fix his poor finances.

Q. Bill
I hope this isn’t too difficult a question.

I’m an Australian citizen living outside Australia since 1997, with the exception of a short period of around six months in 2005/06.

I recently returned to Australia to take up a promised job, which included housing. This, in fact, turned out to be nothing more than a barefaced lie.

Due to my financial position, I went to Centrelink to apply for unemployment benefits but was instead told to apply for the Age Pension.

To make matters worse, I was also advised that I would have to leave my accommodation and face the prospect of sleeping in a park during winter. However, concerned friends paid for my ticket back to Malaysia.

I informed Centrelink of this decision, and they advised me that my application had been rejected over an undisclosed asset of $400. I have tried contacting Centrelink/MyGov since, but have had zero results.

Can you tell me if I am able to claim an Age Pension or will the Australian Government ignore me completely because I do not reside in Australia?

The princely sum of $800 odd dollars a fortnight would not allow me to rent a dog box in Australia but would allow me to live reasonably well in Malaysia or another Asian country.

A. To make a claim for the Age Pension, you would have to return to Australia. You should be aware that the process can take several months and you may not be granted an Age Pension depending on your income and assets.

Should you be granted an Age Pension, you would have to remain in Australia for two years, otherwise your Age Pension will be cancelled.

When you move overseas after the two years, your Age Pension will be paid at the ‘outside of Australia’ rate and will be subject to the work-life residency rule. This means that if you have lived in Australia for less than 35 years between the ages of 16 and 65, you will be paid a pro rata rate.

You should be able to claim Newstart Allowance when you return to Australia, but you will be subject to a work test for this allowance.

Related articles:
Clarification of pensions overseas
Changes to pensions overseas

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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