Changes to overseas Centrelink payments

The tightening of income support rules for Australians travelling overseas may have an impact on how, and where, you plan to spend your retirement.

Currently, recipients of Government support payments can be overseas for 13 weeks and continue to receive their income support payments. This will be reduced to six weeks from 1 January 2013.

This change will affect the following benefits:

  • Disability Support Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Carer Allowance
  • Widow B Pension
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Mobility Allowance
  • Austudy
  • Telephone Allowance
  • Pension Supplement
  • Utilities Allowance
  • Seniors Supplement
  • Clean Energy Supplement
  • Low Income Supplement
  • Pharmaceutical Allowance
  • Rent Assistance
  • Pensioner Education Supplement
  • Concession cards

However, it will not affect recipients of the Age Pension or the Disability Support Pension who have been assessed, under the new rules coming into force on 1 July 2012, as having no future work capacity.

From 1 January 2014, age pensioners who choose to retire or travel for extended periods overseas, will have to have spent 35 years of their working lives in Australia to be eligible to receive the Age Pension. Currently the eligibility is 25 years. From this date should an age pensioner choose to reside overseas for longer than 26 weeks, their pension will be adjusted by how many of the 35 years they resided in Australia while of working age.

Those already living overseas on 1 January 2014 will maintain the 25 years as a base calculation, but should they return to Australia for six months and subsequently leave, they will be subject to the new regulations.

If you are planning on spending an extended period overseas, you should contact a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer on 13 2300 to confirm how this may affect your payments.

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