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 [email protected] 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.

Written by Janelle Ward


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