Returning Australian residents

As you get older, moving back to Australia to be nearer loved ones may seem like the obvious choice. However, there are things to consider which may affect the payment of your Age Pension.

Q. Emma

My father emigrated to Australia in 1974 where he lived and worked until 1992 (He has Australian citizenship and has an Australian passport). He then left in 1992, and has not lived in Australia since (so he is a former Australian resident). He is 75 years old.

He would like to come back to Australia to live – he has three daughters here and seven grand-children. He will be eligible for the Age Pension. He loves to travel. I have read that should he return to Australia he would not be able to travel for the next two years (if he did he would lose his Australian Age Pension). He has no assets whatsoever, here or overseas.

A friend has told me that yes he can travel to countries which have an agreement with Australia – ie. even though he would be classified as a “former resident” should he go to an agreement country then his pension would be “portable” ie. he would still be able to get his Age Pension. Is this true?

My father intends to genuinely come back and live in Australia, but would still like to do some travelling overseas.

A. Provided by Centrelink

If your father returned permanently to Australia and was entitled to the Age Pension, there are special rules which prevent it being paid during any absence from Australia which occurs within two years of the return for residence. This does not mean that your father couldn’t travel outside Australia within those two years, just that the Age Pension would not be payable during those absences. The only exception to this rule is if he were to receive medical treatment unavailable in Australia under a special medical program or if he travelled to a country with which Australia has a Social Security Agreement. Information about claiming the Age Pension while overseas, as well as a list of current Agreement countries is available on the Centrelink website.

We would recommend your father contact Centrelink on one of its international freecall numbers, details of which are available on the Centrelink website, to discuss his eligibility for the Age Pension prior to returning to Australia.

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