Do you need to be a citizen to claim an Age Pension?

Bruce wants to know if he has to be a citizen to apply for an Age Pension.

Age Pension and residential status

Bruce has been an Australian resident for 35 years and, although he hasn’t been a citizen for that time, he wants to know if he can still apply for an Age Pension when he is of retirement age.


Q. Bruce
There is an implication in information you provide that one must be a citizen to be eligible for the Age Pension.

I have lived here for about 35 years mostly as a permanent resident and not as a citizen, but believe I may eventually be entitled to a partial or full Age Pension should my circumstances meet the requirements.

I am not yet of pensionable age, being about 12 months away under the age-based requirements. However, my wife is five years older than I am, so is she entitled to claim an Age Pension or is that based on our combined assets and income?

Is my wife able to claim the Work Bonus, as she works on a casual basis and earns approximately $25k per annum but does not claim an Age Pension? Or is the Work Bonus only applicable to those on an Age Pension?

A. Firstly, your observation is correct, you can claim an Age Pension if you have lived in Australia as a Permanent Resident, you do not need to be an Australian Citizen.

Your wife can make a claim for an Age Pension, however, she will be assessed as part of a couple and both your income and assets will be assessed. If she is not eligible for an Age Pension, she may still receive a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which can be quite valuable owing to the associated concessions.

The Work Bonus is only available to those on the Age Pension, as it essentially reduces the amount of income assessed when determining Age Pension eligibility.


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    To make a comment, please register or login
    15th Jan 2018
    If something has to change it should be that ONLY citizens can apply for a pension or indeed any other form of welfare.

    If a long term resident has not decided by the time they retire whether they ought to make that commitment to Australia and other Australians they should not be able to avail themselves of state welfare.

    There has to be some benefit of being a citizen!
    15th Jan 2018
    Disagree KSS, I may have shared your sentiments until my daughter married a good man from a European country. He has worked and paid taxes and Medicare in Australia and raised 3 children for over 20 years but still wants to retain his citizenship of birth, and I understand his decision. If the place of residence was reversed I would not want my daughter to give up her Australian citizenship.
    16th Jan 2018
    That's where dual citizenship comes in handy Eddy!

    I do think there needs to be a separation between citizens and long term residents. Currently just about the only differences are that residents cannot vote or join the armed forces! There must be more benefits to being a citizen than those handed out to residents.

    If the welfare budget needs to be better targeted to those who are in real need (not those who simply feel entitled because they 'pay tax') then making citizenship one of the mandatory eligibility criteria is one way to go.

    Refugees coming to Australia through official channels would and should be a notable exception.
    5th Mar 2018
    There is a clear benefit for Australia by not giving too many citizenships out, cirms and cheats can easily deported as well as
    welfare rorters. Once citizenship is granted one has to keep them here - look at the ISIS terrorists wanting to come back. Citizenship
    by birth should also be looked at again, only English language
    countries have that system.