Can travel delay Age Pension?

Johan and his wife would like to know how the 10-year residency rule is applied when assessing Age Pension eligibility. Will their previous travel delay their qualification?

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Q. Johan
My wife and I migrated permanently to Australia on 15 February 2013, under a contributory parent visa. In 2014, we spent seven months outside of Australia visiting family, and in 2016, we spent another four months doing the same.

We believe we will qualify for Age Pension 10 years after we entered Australia on 15 February 2013. However, we would like to know:

  • Will our overseas visits have any impact on the 10-year residency period (as this was within the first five years)?
  • Are we allowed to exit Australia within our next and final five years?
  • If we are allowed, what will the periods be without being penalised?
  • Do we have to obtain special permission and, if we do, from what Department?

A. During your 10-year residency requirement, you are entitled to travel overseas on holiday. However, given the length of your time overseas, it is possible that it will be counted as time outside of Australia. You will have to consider this when assessing when you will qualify for the 10-year residency, so add 11 months (the time you have spent outside of Australia) on to 15 February 2023. It should be noted that when assessing whether or not you are resident in Australia, Centrelink does consider the following, so you should confirm your status with them:

•   where you live and who you live with

•   if you have family in Australia or overseas

•   your employment, business or financial ties in Australia and overseas

•   your assets in Australia and overseas

•   how often and how long you travel outside Australia, and

•   anything else it thinks is relevant.

Included in the 10-year residency is the requirement to remain within Australia for a continuous period of five years. This is not the first five years or the last five years, but simply a period of five continuous years. Therefore, if Centrelink deems the time you have been out of Australia not to count as residency, then you will have to remain in Australia for the next five years.

You should also be aware that as a measure in the 2017–18 Federal Budget, the Government is looking to enhance the residency rules which are much more onerous than the current rules. This measure is subject to legislation. You can find out more at humanservices.gov.au.

It would be beneficial for you to make an appointment with a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, which you can do by calling 13 2300, to confirm your residency status and when you would qualify for the Age Pension.

If you have a Centrelink question, send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.

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Financial 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 the 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 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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