Age Pension on return to Australia

I am an Australian citizen who has lived in South America on a semi-permanent basis since 2010. However, I have lived in Australia and paid taxes since 1981, around 31 years. I returned three months ago when I turned 65 to file a claim, and stated that my permanent address would be my son’s house in Brisbane. I have now returned to South America only to find that my claim has been rejected. I have a few questions:

If I were to return next week and stay in my son’s house again, would that entitle me to claim residence there? And could I apply to the first date of claim 15 May 2017 ?

How often would I have to return to Australia to claim the Age Pension during the first two years?

I also have Irish citizenship but I only lived in Ireland as a child, so I cannot receive an Irish pension.

If I returned to Australia tomorrow and lodged an Age Pension claim and remained in Australia without leaving for two years, when do they start paying the Age Pension? Is it two years later? Or does it start from the date of claim? I’m 65 now, so do I get paid now or when I am 67? Is living in a caravan judged to be a residential address?

The other question is that if I returned, would I be able to claim unemployment benefit?

A. When you return to Australia to make a claim for the Age Pension, you need to remain here for two years once your claim has been approved. If you leave to return to South America during the two-year residency period, your Age Pension will be stopped. Therefore, you can’t return and leave the country as well as continue to have your Age Pension paid.

If you were to submit a claim once you return to Australia, it would be paid from that date, not 15 May 2017, as you did not meet the residency requirements between claims.

If awarded the Age Pension, it would be immediate and it would be backdated to the day the approved claim was made. You should note, however, that it can take several months for Age Pension claims to be processed. Once you have been granted an Age Pension and have served the two-year residency period, then you can leave Australia and have your payment paid overseas.

When moving overseas, your Age Pension payment will be subject to the work life residency rule. This means it will be paid pro-rata based on the number of years you have been resident in Australia while of working age until you reach 35 years of residency, which is when you will be paid the full rate of Age Pension. So if you have been a resident for 31 years, you will be paid 31/35ths of the full rate of your Age Pension. Your Age Pension will also be paid at the overseas rate and you will be paid four-weekly rather than fortnightly. You can find out more at

You may be able to claim unemployment benefit, which is Newstart Allowance: however, you will be subject to a work test.

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Written by Debbie McTaggart


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