Can I claim pension in Australia and the UK?

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June is preparing for retirement and wants to know how her UK pension will affect her application for the Age Pension in Australia.


Q. June
My husband and I are looking to retire when we are 66. We are 64 now. We are from England but have been working here for more than 14 years. We have an English pension of £160 a week. We will have a small amount of super, maybe $40,000, about $20,000 in shares and $50,000 in the bank. Do you think we will get a part Australian pension?

A. Centrelink will assess your UK pension as income and if this takes you over the income limit, your pension will be reduced by 50 cents for every dollar you exceed the limit.

The income from your combined UK pension will be roughly $1200 per fortnight – assuming both of you receive £160 each, but the first $336 will not be assessed.

Currently, the Australian government has increased the Work Bonus level, which is the amount you can earn on the Age Pension without impacting on your payments.

However Work Bonus only covers  ‘busy work’ such as working in a cafe, childcare or picking fruit. A foreign pension is considered passive income, and does not come under the scheme.

So it is likely your Australian Age Pension payments will be cut, but it’s best to contact Centrelink for advice on your personal situation. This is because it’s not just your financial assets Centrelink will take into account when assessing your claim, but also your assets such as cars and furniture.

When you advise Centrelink of your income and assets from overseas, it will convert the value into Australian dollars.

Once you have been granted a UK pension, the amount will stay the same – it is not indexed. This means that the only fluctuation in the value of your payment will be due to the exchange rate.

Centrelink currently uses the Commonwealth Bank buy rates that apply on the fifth business day before the first of each month.

Centrelink will update your income details on the first of each month and apply this rate of income to your Age Pension payment.

This is only a guide to what you may be entitled to. You can make an appointment to speak to a Centrelink Financial Information Services Officer on 132300. This is a free service, which you can access at any time, whether a customer of Centrelink or not.  It will help you to better understand your entitlements based on your individual financial position.

Do you have a UK pension? Do you think it should be indexed? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

Also read: Will my furniture affect the Age Pension?

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 the 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 financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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  1. The UK pensioners living in Australia are subjected to this discriminatory and blatantly unfair UK law which freezes the UK pension at the rate applicable when you claim it. This law applies only to a few countries such as Canada, New Zealand the Falkland Islands, South Africa and of course Australia. In almost all other countries, the UK pensioner would get the regular CPI increments as they would if they were in the UK. Seems the UK government has determined that living in Australia means pensioners are somehow immune to cost of living rises. Should the UK pensioner decide to return to the UK, their pension will be paid at the full rate from the time they take up UK residency
    There are about 500,000 UK pensioners subjected to this 70-year-old arbitrary law some of whom get just 22 (approx $40) pounds a week. Currently, the full UK age pension is 203.85 pounds a week – compared with the basic Australian age pension for a single person of $971.50 a fortnight (approx $485 a week).

    Ultimately the Australian taxpayer will pick up the tab for the discriminatory system in the UK. How is this fair? The UK pensioners have contributed to the UK system for 30 years or AND many also contributing to the Australian system which they will be unlikely to benefit from.

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