Clarification of pensions overseas

Suri is confused about the current rules that surround how long you can be outside of Australia before your Age Pension payment is affected. The detail below should help to clarify.

Q. Suri
What is the latest Centrelink ruling on how long an age pensioner can be overseas before his, or her, pension is stopped?

A. Your Age Pension can be paid indefinitely if you leave Australia, however, you must advise Centrelink of any travel plans that exceed six weeks in total.

Once you have been out of Australia for six weeks, the rate at which your Age Pension is paid will change to an outside of Australia payment rate; your pension supplement will reduce to the basic rate and your energy supplement will cease. If you are leaving Australia permanently, the changes to your payments will take effect on the day you leave the country. You need to advise Centrelink of any travel plans outside of Australia that exceed six weeks, or if it is your intention to leave permanently.

If you are leaving Australia permanently, or will be absent from the country for more than 26 weeks, then your Age Pension payment will be subject to the working life residence rule. Under this rule, your Age Pension is paid at a pro rata rate that depends on how many years you have lived in Australia as a resident between the age of 16 and age pension age. If this is 35 years or more, then you will be paid the full rate of Age Pension, subject to the outside of Australia payment rules. If you have been resident for less than 35 years, for example 30 years, then you will be paid 30/35ths of the rate applicable to your circumstances.

There is legislation that has yet to be passed that will reduce this 26-week period to six weeks.

You should confirm your individual circumstances with Centrelink.

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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