A cry for help: can Stanley return to live in Australia?

Can he return to Australia and be eligible for an Age Pension?

Centrelink Q&A: A cry for help

After Stanley’s business failed, he headed overseas to live and work. He is keen to return to Australia but doesn’t know if he will qualify for an Age Pension.


Q. Stanley
I'm going on 67 and I have been stuck living in Asia for the past decade. I shifted here after my business in Australia failed due to a range of reasons after a very successful 15 years. I ended up totally broke with no assets, savings, superannuation, home or car. I survive here on a small family inheritance and the small salary I am able to eke out working in slave-like conditions to pay a high rent and keep a roof over my head. 

Is it possible for me to receive an Australian Age Pension as – for the 20 years my business operated, I paid significant taxes to the Government while never making any claims on social welfare, medical costs or anything that involved any payout of taxpayer monies?

The reality is that I cannot afford to pay for a return ticket to Australia, and even if I could get there, I would have no place of abode and no ability to enjoy any semblance of a real life. What are my options?

A: To claim an Age Pension, a person must first be an Australian resident and, second, be in Australia when the claim is lodged. He or she will also need to have been an Australian resident for at least 10 years in total, with at least five of those years being continuous residency.

If an Australia citizen returns from another country to live in Australia and starts getting Age Pension, their payment will stop if they depart Australia during the subsequent two years.

There are some exceptions to the Age Pension residency rules. For instance:

  • a refugee or former refugee is exempt from the 10-year rule
  • you can apply to transfer to the Age Pension without meeting the residence rules if you receive any of the following: Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance or Pension, and if you’re a woman whose partner died while both were Australian residents, you’ll need to have been an Australian resident for two years before being able to claim.
  • if you’ve lived or worked in a country that has an international social security agreement with Australia.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

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 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 Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Are you eligible for an Age Pension? Do you know your rights? The RetirePlanner™ tool has all the information you need.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    30th Apr 2018
    Well, that really gave him a lot of information didn't it!
    Joy Anne
    1st May 2018
    Yes agree. Not the information he wanted and no information for him.
    See what it said if your a refugee or former refugee they are exempt from 10 year plan.
    This guy owned a business in Australia and worked and paid his taxes for 20 years plus. Surely he should be entitled to a part pension.
    30th Apr 2018
    Wouldn't there also be a pro-rata rate of the pension given only 20 years work is being claimed and not the full 35? So in this case he would get 20/35ths of the age pension (assuming he returns to Australia to claim it).
    30th Apr 2018
    Why? People in Australia get the aged pension and never worked. It's obviously not based on employment records. Getting home will be the issue. He needs a current passport. I'd be checking out the Australian Embassy for information and possibly charities for help with the airfare.

    I don't understand why the rent would be high either.
    Cowboy Jim
    30th Apr 2018
    I believe that would only apply if he intends to go back to live abroad again after successfully applying for the age pension. Wonder which country he's living in as most places do not allow you to work, if under slave wage condition. The taxes he paid here and the no-claim assertion for social help previously do not matter. Paid taxes here for 40 years and it did not matter a hoot when at 65 I claimed a pension. All they wanted to know how much I got in my bank and whether I got a residence or other assets.
    He should have come back a bit earlier to sort the stuff out when he possibly still had enough for the air fare. Arisaid is right about the
    information, he should have gotten that from the C/link website.
    30th Apr 2018
    It's the working life residency rules. YLC did an article on it late last year, see here:


    And here for the Dept Human Services:
    30th Apr 2018
    Rae, the Australian Embassy does not pay airfares for anyone to get back to Australia. But the issue of his passport is an interesting one. Has he kept it up to date? If not he could always be deported from his current country of residence!
    30th Apr 2018
    Yes KSS but a charity might if he can commit to paying it back perhaps. cheap flight from Asia to Australia may be available from someone like the Salvation Army. The Embassy for information only. They may know who can help him. Seems like he is in a real pickle. The thought of being stranded overseas with no funds and no fare home is quite terrifying as far as I'm concerned.

    If he could ensure being deported home that would be good but ending up in an asian prison with no family support and no money would be disastrous.
    Joy Anne
    1st May 2018
    Yes agree KSS. Devastating for this chap stranded in a country without anything. I feel for him hope someone can help him.
    30th Apr 2018
    This contradicts a post put up by a gentleman a little while back who said it was cheaper to live in Asia than Australia. May need to talk to this man about how he does it.

    30th Apr 2018
    My view is Stanley would be eligible
    Just needs to fund his trip back and manage on his own until the centrelink payments start coming in
    Cowboy Jim
    30th Apr 2018
    Stanley also did not mention whether he is an Australian citizen or Permanent Visa holder as he certainly is not an Australian resident. Only asking because a mate of mine came in like that and then found out he's still a Kiwi and C/link made him applying for a New Zealand pension. Years ago Poms and Kiwis automatically moved here and worked. Do not know when the law changed.
    30th Apr 2018
    I believe the law changed in about 1973, I think it was related to a law that Gough Whitlam brought in to bring UK migrants in line with other migrants, not sure about New Zealanders they were under a different agreement.
    30th Apr 2018
    1 January 1975 I came 30 Dec 1974
    1st May 2018
    The all Australian system of the Social security is one oF the most corrupt system in the all International agriments the is problems whith the Ministers Human services & cenrelink the is not any communications or correct documents the is not controls is fabrication documents medical records & is International crime as we have the problems from 8 years & all is refer to interpol the is crime also connect the others law F.O.I. P.M office & foreign ministers fake system in International agreements The is not any law for the pensioners
    1st Jul 2018

    Here is some information I found on the Net:

    1. Australian citizens have an automatic right of entry to Australia, and do not require a visa. Australian citizens need only to present the following documents to officers in immigration clearance:

    a valid Australian passport or other acceptable travel document
    a completed and signed Incoming Passenger card.

    2. To get Age Pension you need to have been an Australian resident for at least 10 years in total. For at least 5 of these years, there must be no break in your residence.

    I assume that if you are an Australian citizen, then you are automatically an Australian resident, i.e. that you cannot lose residency if you go overseas. From what I have read, this appears to be the case.

    I also know that you have to be physically in Australia to claim the Age Pension.

    Hope this helps.
    2nd Jul 2018
    Centrelink whith not any link to rights for social security the rude corrupt gang of criminals who abuse any law whith the all ministers mentally paranoia & many others in the system act as gestapo against rights Pensioners Australian Citizence the family the is not Control A.F.P. who is in the all system were the is abuse Tax payers money the most corrupt A.P.S have pay for all fake reports by the Government only to abuse the Citizence & destroy the life & family

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