Will I lose my pension if I leave?

Neville is planning to return to Australia to claim his Age Pension but is unsure how long he will have to remain before heading overseas again.

Q. Neville

I am currently in Vietnam, and have been for two years, travelling around on a

tourist visa. I was planning to return to Australia and apply for the Age Pension on my 65th birthday.

Once I do so, will I have to wait for two years before I can return to Vietnam? If so, what if I return to Vietnam after about three months for any amount of time? How long can I be away before my Age Pension is stopped? And how long would I have to wait until I can receive the Age Pension again? I have read the rules and forum but am not sure about these points.

A. Age Pension payments overseas can be quite complex as it really depends on how Centrelink views your residency status.

Firstly, whether you will have to serve the two-year residency period will depend on whether or not Centrelink considers you to have been an Australian resident while you have been out of the country – did you maintain a home, pay tax, etc? You will need to seek clarification from Centrelink of your residency status.

If you are not considered to have been an Australian resident, then you will need to remain in Australia for two years after your Age Pension is granted. If you leave, your Age Pension is ceased immediately. However, you can take a holiday as long as you are considered a resident of Australia. Centrelink will advise if your absence is considered temporary and how long you can remain outside of Australia before your Age Pension is affected.

If your Age Pension is indeed ceased, then you will need to reapply for the Age Pension on your return. How long it will take before you receive a payment will depend on Centrelink processing times.

You should contact Centrelink on its international phone line.

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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