Australians who are aged over 80 and live overseas will have to produce a “proof of life certificate” to continue receiving the Age Pension in a tightening of rules that will start from 1 July next year.
The Federal Government says the new measure will save $150 million over four years.
From 1 July, affected pensioners will need to go to an Australian embassy or consulate every two years to register that they are still alive and entitled to continue receiving the payment.
Pensioners will be given 13 weeks to tell the Government they are alive before their payment is cancelled
There are about 96,000 Australian pensioners living overseas, with a quarter of them aged 80 or over.
Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher said the Government believed there had been thousands of instances where a person had died while living overseas but continued to receive the Age Pension.
“We believe we will identify about 6000 people living overseas who are dead or whose families are wrongfully receiving taxpayer money,” he told the ABC.
“In some cases it could be fraud, in other cases it could be that the pensioner’s family incorrectly think that they remain entitled to receive the pension formerly paid to their loved one.”
Mr Fletcher said the proof of life certificates were a simple and fair way of ensuring welfare payments were going only to eligible recipients.
“Countries like the UK, Germany, Netherlands, France and Italy all have systems in place to verify whether a pensioner living overseas in still alive and we’re now going to introduce a similar system,” he said.
“We do have a duty to be careful and responsible with taxpayers’ money and so it’s appropriate to have a process in place to check that where a pension is being paid that that person continues to be alive.”
Are you supportive of the new measure? Do you believe it will be simple enough to meet the reporting requirements?
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