24th Aug 2017
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Dual citizenship could entitle retirees to two pensions
Author: Olga Galacho
Dual citizens may score two pensions

As the dual-citizenship brouhaha heads to the High Court today, the eventual ruling could be a bonanza for any resident with two nationalities, potentially entitling them to multiple pensions. 

Australian law allows eligible citizens with dual nationality to receive Age Pension benefits here and also from the other country of which they are a citizen, La Trobe University Associate Professor Gwenda Tavan told YourLifeChoices.

“Australia has social security agreements with multiple countries that allow these cross-border claims and generally, they benefit our Government,” Prof Tavan said.

“If a dual citizen is able to claim a part pension overseas, then the amount of Australian Age Pension they receive is reduced, saving money for our Department of Social Services.”

She agreed that in many cases, pensioners who claimed two payments might be better off because in combination they could potentially receive more than if they only drew down on the Age Pension.

There are currently social security agreements with 30 countries and the Federal Government is negotiating to have several others established.

Countries where agreements are in place include: New Zealand, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Cyprus, India and Malta.

The agreement with the United Kingdom was terminated in 2001 by Australia because the UK Government refused to index pensions here.

However, eligible citizens can continue to receive UK social services payments because they are made under that nation’s domestic law and are not affected by the agreement’s cancellation.

For more details on UK pension eligibility visit the UK Department of Social Security website at www.dss.gov.uk.

Where social security agreements exist, they are based on the notion that responsibility for funding retirees should be shared between countries that offer dual citizenship.

According to the Department of Social Services: “In this way, responsibility for social security is shared between the countries where a person has lived during their working years and the person is able to unlock potential entitlements.”

While the ‘shared responsibility’ notion underpins the agreements, not all of them apply dual citizenship rights identically and some of them have more exclusions than others.

The Irish are one of the most inclusive nations offering citizenship to foreign-born grandchildren of Irish nationals. Further, if your parent gained Irish citizenship through marriage, adoption or naturalisation, and was a citizen of Ireland when you were born, you might also have Irish nationality.

Canadians also appear to extend benefits to most descendents, stating that to be eligible for  pensions and benefits, you just need to be a survivor of someone who has lived or worked in Canada. 

The rules for dual UK citizenship are more prescriptive and confusing. UK nationality is only bestowed on foreigners if they were born before 2006 and their British parents were married when they were born.

Some foreign embassies offer online tests to assess dual nationality. The tests are simple but may not be conclusive. If in doubt, contact the Australian office of the foreign embassy in question.

Click on the links below to find out if you are a dual citizen.

Have you established whether you are entitled to dual citizenship? Are you claiming a payment from another country and receiving the Australian Age Pension?


Opinion: are you outside the law?

The first hearing into whether Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan are eligible to sit as Federal MPs will be conducted in Brisbane by the High Court today.

ABC News reported that because neither MP is contesting the fact that they are dual citizens,  at this stage “the only issue that will be debated is whether that rules the pair ineligible to sit in Parliament under an interpretation of section 44(1) of Australia’s Constitution”.

Depending on whether the MPs agree or not with the judgement, the debate in and outside the court could drag on for months.

This will not only prolong Parliament’s instability, but also confuse potential dual citizens among Australia’s retirees.

The final decision will likely shed some light on whether the onus to ascertain citizenship status under unusual circumstances is on the individual or not.

But the debate has thrown up another dilemma, and that is that many Australian pensioners will also be wondering if they, too, have dual nationalities. And if they have but haven’t investigated it, does that mean they must pay back any Australian Age Pension they may not have been entitled to?

For the fact of the matter is, under Department of Social Services rules, if you are entitled to a pension from another country, then you must claim that before you can apply for an Australian Age Pension!

It’s possible that if you are a dual citizen that your Age Pension will be compromised.

Given that a growing list of politicians are belatedly finding out that they have dual citizenship, it’s possible that many other Aussies may also have foreign citizen status. And if so, they could be receiving an Australian Age Pension part of which they are not entitled to.

Many retirees born in Australia have never questioned their nationality. Will they now be asked to, depending on the High Court’s interpretation?

As La Trobe academic Prof Gwenda Tavan told YourLifeChoices, the sooner the court clarifies the Constitution’s citizenship stance the better.

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    COMMENTS

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    HDRider
    24th Aug 2017
    11:03am
    As a polli it is your job to know if you are a dual citizen, if you are not sure then ASK, if it were a a normal working class person laying bricks they'd be in the poo! Strangely enough, Centrelink know because THEY TELL you to claim the overseas one first! Yet Australia does not want to pay her workers pensions overseas and has desperately tried to stop this.
    There are RULES to claiming overseas pensions, ie UK you must have worked for 10 or 11 years and paid NHI payments. This can be a good thing, because this pension might take up what you are allowed to earn per fortnight in Australia.
    One Polli was born in Australia of an Australian mother, to think that he or she could be entitled to dual citizenship, thus stopping them holding their position is bloody laughable!
    Pamjean
    24th Aug 2017
    11:29am
    You have no entitlement unless you have worked there. You are giving people false hope
    KSS
    24th Aug 2017
    12:41pm
    Agree Pamjean particularly in the UK you MUST have worked there and paid National Insurance before you are 'entitled'to any pension. And then it is based on how much you contributed.

    This article implies that the mere fact of being eligible to claim dual citizenship will somehow translate into a foreign pension. This is at best a misrepresentation and at worst an encouragement to demand something for nothing!
    Old Man
    24th Aug 2017
    12:59pm
    And you are surprised that misleading articles appear in this forum?
    dreamer
    24th Aug 2017
    1:29pm
    Pamjean I worked 10 yrs in the UK which is the mininum for claiming the state pension and if i cliamed in 2015 i would have got 43.21 pound a week
    KSS
    24th Aug 2017
    1:32pm
    No not surprised Old Man. Just pointing out the b******g obvious.
    MICK
    24th Aug 2017
    3:28pm
    I am not sure the article is factual. It appears to imply you can pick up 2 pensions (?) and that is unlikely to be the case. My limited understanding of pensioners in Oz is that if you leave the country for a relatively short time then you lose your entitlement. Hardly the thrust of the article.
    Aussie
    17th Nov 2017
    3:22pm
    MICK ....correct the article luck from a lot of research and is all written on the web ... this article is rubbish is not correct and we cannot get dual pensions ....will be nice to get UK + AU pensions wowowo live like a king .... Unfortunately is not the case...

    I think the YLC is creating articles to get readers and uncertainty.... let’s be careful what we believe in this forum from the article originators.

    Sounds like this forum is now creating sensationalist journalist like USA newspapers to create circulation
    don
    24th Aug 2017
    11:33am
    If you have lived.
    paid taxes in England you can cash it in or receive a part pension.
    GeorgeM
    24th Aug 2017
    11:36am
    Since our pollies get their pensions through their own rules (created by themselves), I suspect they are insulated from any Centrelink-type tests anyway. Yes, they only have themselves to blame if they didn't check their dual citizenship status. It could a good benefit to Australia if all such pollies with dual citizenship are thrown out of parliament and also become ineligible to receive their fat, undeserved pensions.

    Also, this situation once again cries out loud for a Review of the Pension System here (was promised by somebody I recall), and pay pensions to all who lived and paid taxes here (say for 20 years to get maximum pension), including spouses, without any Assets or Income Tests. Of course, after taking into account any overseas pensions.
    Rae
    24th Aug 2017
    11:39am
    Australia is one of a very few countries that does not pay a universal pension. For some strange reason the politicians believe people will save the $600 000 needed to provide the equivalent of the OAP and some people do appear to be doing just that. Others just don't bother and get the same income in retirement as the saver. It doesn't make much sense when you think about it. I'm sure our bureaucracy will work out some way of stuffing it all up given enough time.
    Plenty of dual citizens make that trip home every few years to collect the pensions going into overseas accounts. This has gone on for a very long time indeed for those lucky enough to be able to double dip.
    Of course the smart ones have the $600 000 hidden somewhere and get the OAP as well.
    No point investing it if it costs time, risk and income after all.
    Sensible countries pay all a universal pension and tax further income which is fair, equitable and we don't do fair and equitable in Oz do we?
    MICK
    24th Aug 2017
    3:43pm
    Not sure you can have a pension running concurrently in two countries?
    Yeah, the bastards in charge really are wanting to screw average Australians. It seems sick that they want to take away a universal pension but are happy to give the richest amongst us large tax cuts as well as ignore trusts which have been fraudulently used for decades and offshore tax shelters to launder taxable income.
    Until the crooks at the top are gone we may be stuck with all of the above as well as new coal fired power generators. Voters really are sheep herded to their own slaughter.
    Rae
    24th Aug 2017
    5:34pm
    You can if you have a couple of identities MICK.
    MICK
    24th Aug 2017
    5:40pm
    Funny.
    johnp
    24th Aug 2017
    12:01pm
    doesnt affect me at all cos dont have dual but this issue has potential to be "Kafkaesque" !!
    Cos the other country may have the same rule
    ""
    under Department of Social Services rules, if you are entitled to a pension from another country, then you must claim that before you can apply for an Australian Age Pension!
    ""
    johnp
    24th Aug 2017
    12:03pm
    Agree with Rae, Spot On
    johnp
    24th Aug 2017
    12:03pm
    Agree with Rae, Spot On
    BElle
    24th Aug 2017
    12:21pm
    Yes we do have dual citizenship and we do claim the UK pension to which we are entitled.
    Under the rules we are not able to claim the Government Pension only the contributory pension as we did not work there for 11 and half years as to meet the requirement. We do get a Contributory Pension which is 51p per week or translates to approx. $47 per year. We HAVE to claim it before we get an Australian Pension or part thereof.
    .
    oldileaks
    24th Aug 2017
    1:16pm
    From reading the comments there is so much misinformation and rumor regarding the UK State pension and how it affect the Australian Pension. However, the nub of the article is correct and I advise every expat from the UK to check out their eligibility. However, the rules have changed 3 time within the last 7 years and the UK wen sites do not tell you the whole story. professional advice is the only way to go. If you require help speak with Mike Goodall on 0863640859
    inextratime
    24th Aug 2017
    1:27pm
    The difference in the pension that the UK pay is that a contribution was taken out of one's pay as early as the 1950's to be able to pay the pension when 65. To gain the full pension you had to work for at least ten years in the UK (possibly 11.5 years). Any less time is worked out pro rata. That amount gets reported to Centrelink and the Australian OAP is adjusted to take in the amount. If people have set up UK bank accounts to receive their UK pension and do not declare it to Centrelink its fraud and can be prosecuted.
    johnp
    24th Aug 2017
    1:45pm
    Agree with George - Spot On
    re pay pensions to all who paid taxes here (say for 20 years to get maximum pension), including spouses, without any Assets or Income Test.
    Whats the next step ? A revolution ??
    GeorgeM
    24th Aug 2017
    4:27pm
    Yep, that looks like the way to go! In a democratic way, as follows.
    Vote out all the Liberal, Greens & Labor bastards by voting them last in preferences. The retirees group are large enough to make a difference in the marginal seats. Then, maybe the pollies may start thinking what caused it.
    Rae
    25th Aug 2017
    7:38am
    Yes a Senior s Party running in the marginals would certainly stir things up. Great idea George.
    floss
    24th Aug 2017
    1:45pm
    Would have to strongly agree Rae and George
    radish
    24th Aug 2017
    2:16pm
    60% pay no tax. who is going to pay for the pensions? the remaining 40% of taxpayers. sure they will be pleased if all get pension.
    Jim
    24th Aug 2017
    2:32pm
    To get the full UK pension I believe the new rules are you have to have worked for 30 years, to get a pro rata pension I believe that you have to have worked for 11.5 years the pro rata rate is 1/30 for each year you worked. There are other rules that apply that are quite complicated but I found the UK pension office very helpful.
    floss
    24th Aug 2017
    4:52pm
    I think our Pollies can claim 2 pensions.
    Rae
    24th Aug 2017
    5:38pm
    They don't get an OAP unless they blow all their superannuation floss. Anyone can have two or more superannuation pensions which is entirely different. None of these are paid by the government or have Centrelink organising them.

    If they were immigrants who are allowed an overseas pension they would get the portion of it on top of superannuation. You can have a superannuation pension and earn as much as you like outside of that pension unlike the government paid OAP.
    Rae
    24th Aug 2017
    5:40pm
    Just about all of those governments pay a pension without an asset or income test to everyone over an age for fairness and equity reasons.
    oldileaks
    24th Aug 2017
    5:09pm
    Dim, more incorrect information regarding the years for a full pension and how many years you have to contribute for to be even eligible. It all depends upon the date you were born as to which rules you come under. Please talk to an expert like Mike on 08 6364 0859
    Anonymous
    24th Aug 2017
    6:14pm
    hope that is not our ylc labor micky?
    saintagnes
    24th Aug 2017
    6:18pm
    If you are British and qualify for a UK pension then Centrelink require you to claim it before they will pay the Australian pension - they then reduce the Australian component accordingly. Remember that UK pensions are frozen at the rate you migrated from the UK and never change. The UK Dept notify Australia Centrelink of the payments they make. You must have worked for a minimum of 10 years in the UK and have paid NHI contributions which are deducted at the source of pay
    Eddy
    24th Aug 2017
    8:40pm
    I went onto gov.uk to check my status as both my parents were born in UK. I answered 3 questions and the answer to each was NO. 'Were you born in UK', 'Were you born in a qualifying territory", Were you a UK or a colonies citizen on 31 December 1982". The answer is I am not a UK citizen.
    So where does this notion that you can be a UK citizen by decent come from? This must let some of these errant pollies off the hook. I note I lost my British Subject status in 1948. So there goes my dreams of getting rich on a UK pension.
    ELAJ711
    24th Aug 2017
    10:34pm
    For some citizen being dual citizen could be beneficial but it should not be for top ranking country official specially the head or the president of the country. They should be a natural born citizen with only the citizenship of the country they are representing.If they will be dual citizen then how will we test their loyalty to the country. That is the one requirement that should be implemented for the higher officials of the nation or else Australia will just be a milking cow for these corrupts and unscrupulous officials which is now becoming a trend. Wake up Australians this is not a third country where politics is one source of income for corrupt people. One country one citizenship and stop fooling the voters
    ELAJ711
    24th Aug 2017
    10:34pm
    For some citizen being dual citizen could be beneficial but it should not be for top ranking country official specially the head or the president of the country. They should be a natural born citizen with only the citizenship of the country they are representing.If they will be dual citizen then how will we test their loyalty to the country. That is the one requirement that should be implemented for the higher officials of the nation or else Australia will just be a milking cow for these corrupts and unscrupulous officials which is now becoming a trend. Wake up Australians this is not a third country where politics is one source of income for corrupt people. One country one citizenship and stop fooling the voters
    Jolly
    25th Aug 2017
    9:07am
    A lot of people on here have no idea what they are talking about. I worked in England from the age of 14 and a half until I came to Australia at the end of my 20th year. Now, until you apply for the pension you will not know what you will get. But first you need your National Insurance Number. Then you can request the paperwork for the pension. If you are over 65(like me), you will get back paid. Either through fortnightly payments or a lump sum I chose the lump sum.
    fearlessfly
    25th Aug 2017
    4:26pm
    There's a bloody big "gotcha" here, courtesy of those assholes at Centrelink. You don't get TWO full Age Pensions, they make you apply for whatever Age Pension entitlement there is from your former country of residence, then they top it up to the Australian Age Pension equivalent. BUT, get this, they then consider your Age Pension component from your original country to be "Foreign Income". So what, you might ask ? Well, if your wife is on Newstart, then that payment is drastically cut because of the "Foreign Income" you are receiving. This would not occur if ALL your Age Pension is from the Australian Govt. This is freaking unfair to people who have migrated to Australia and become Australian Citizens !!
    Not Senile Yet!
    27th Aug 2017
    6:32pm
    We should not allow any Australian Citizen to hold any Dual Passports or Citizenship elsewhere!
    Once you swear allegiance to Australia....hand in your other citizenship and passports....you are an Aussie.
    Of course many will disagree with this! But only those who want to be greedy and hold two or more passports!
    It should be a condition of our Citizenship.....to get an Australian Citizenship....you surrender all others.
    If you do not want to do that.....then you should not get Ours!
    Blossom
    27th Aug 2017
    7:35pm
    Your Life Choices,

    there is a comment on here submitted my "cherylwarren" that is in NO way connected to this article. Personally I think it should be removed !!!!!!!!!!
    rob101
    28th Aug 2017
    9:56am
    Dual Pensions ,Rubbish if you get a Pension from Overseas your Australian Pension is REDUCED by that amount! STOP giving false hope to people.That is irresponsible and unfair.check your facts before Publishing.

    rob101
    rob101
    28th Aug 2017
    9:56am
    Dual Pensions ,Rubbish if you get a Pension from Overseas your Australian Pension is REDUCED by that amount! STOP giving false hope to people.That is irresponsible and unfair.check your facts before Publishing.

    rob101
    oldileaks
    28th Aug 2017
    4:27pm
    ROB 101, It is a true fact that a person is financially better off with both a UK State pension (if they qualify) and an Australian State pension. Your comments just perpetuate so much of the rubbish that is talked about by listening to false rumors and statements. Get the true facts before publishing.
    TREBOR
    29th Aug 2017
    1:56pm
    This is not a problem - as long as they have met the criteria for pension here, any extra income from any source should be taken into account in calculation of actual payment rate.

    I don't see any issue here as regards 'double-dipping' that is earned.

    Pollies are a different breed.. no double dipping since they must be an absolute Australian citizen first and foremost or no seat. I still say both parents born here and you cannot become the PM unless you were born here... like the Prez in the US...

    We need Australians looking after Australia first and foremost ... not every adventurer that arrives on our shores looking for a sweet gig in politics, and dragging a suitcase full of ideological ideas from totally different countries....

    Guess that makes me a jingoist or whatever....
    rob101
    29th Aug 2017
    3:19pm
    Oldileaks! Prove It! You can check wwith Centrelink,if you receive an Overseas Pension ,your Australian Pension is Reduced.That is the Law!
    rob101
    29th Aug 2017
    3:20pm
    Oldileaks! Prove It! You can check wwith Centrelink,if you receive an Overseas Pension ,your Australian Pension is Reduced.That is the Law!
    Cowboy Jim
    26th Jun 2018
    11:30am
    I am in that position exactly - but your pension is only reduced if your overseas pension is higher than your allowable income. My $100 a month makes no difference.


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