Overseas travel trap

A miscalculation has cost Russ dearly and he doesn’t want others to be caught out.

Overseas travel trap

Russ recently travelled overseas and was sure that he met all Centrelink’s requirements to ensure he still received his Disability Support Pension, however, a miscalculation has cost him dearly and he doesn’t want others to be caught out.

Russ’s story
I recently went to the Philippines for a holiday and Centrelink advised I that I could only leave the country for 42 days because I am on a DSP. I carefully checked my dates and, wanting the longest possible time abroad, I worked it out to 42 days. And so I booked my holiday from 10 January to 21 February 2014.

On my return to Australia, I received a letter from Centrelink advising me that my pension had been suspended because I was out of the country for 43 days. When I queried this I was told that I had left the country on 9 January. My flight was for just after midnight on the 10th and, because I had passed through immigration before midnight, I was deemed to have been absent for 43 days. I did not agree with the  decision and appealed but the decision was final.

I would like to make people aware of this problem, as losing any benefits can be hard-hitting nowadays. So if you are leaving the country soon after midnight, please be aware to count an extra day for passing immigration.

Have you been caught out similar to Russ? 


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    20th Mar 2014
    Bureaucracy gone mad! So if he had left the country before midnight (after passing through customs/immigration), he couldn't be charged with any offence committed on the other side of immigration because he had already been deemed to have left the country????????????????
    20th Mar 2014
    Yes. I arrived back in Australia exactly 42 days but also had my DSP suspended. My wife's Carers Pension was also suspended. After a number of calls to Centrelink it was discovered that the computer was late in processing the arrival information from Immigration and it was not completed until the following day. It's all sorted now but was quite disturbing at the time.
    20th Mar 2014
    It's no big deal, you can overstay a number of weeks as long as you accept you will not be paid for the extended period.
    The pension is restored when you return.
    20th Mar 2014
    Centrelink nit-picking again
    Deb Dickman
    20th Mar 2014
    I would really like to know if Russ's Disability pension has been restored, and how long did it take? Is it a similar situation with the Age Pension now, as I intend to go overseas to Europe later in the year, and hope to go for 8 weeks? Does anyone know?
    20th Mar 2014
    You can overstay for 2 weeks without any worry, just give them a ring when you get back to Australia.
    You just lose 2 weeks pension.
    I was told by a Centrelink officer that you could overstay up to 13 weeks with out having to reapply for the pension on return but I don't think I'd like to put that to the test.
    20th Mar 2014
    I am about to go on a cruise for 5 weeks and I advised Centrelink of the dates etc and it was confirmed that the time frame was OK and that I should advise Centrelink on my return to confirm such return as " we are not always advised by immigration of such return". I then received a letter from Centrelink confirming that the trip was advised to them and telling me that there was no need to confirm my return. Who is right?
    I do know that I will confirm my return to ensure continuity of payments.
    20th Mar 2014
    Wise move, it only takes a phone call for peace of mind.

    What you have experienced is a typical example of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing... lol.
    21st Mar 2014
    Not really, just a reasonably minded person from Centrelink call centre giving good advice to those who will listen. I think that she is someone who understands the vagiarys of trying to link all government computer records and wanted to see that I was not inconvenienced.
    20th Mar 2014
    How long before you go away do you have to tell center link ? Do you need to go in to the office ? Or can you do it on line ?
    20th Mar 2014
    You have to ring Centrelink International.
    If you only have a mobile phone and can't make the free call go into the nearest office and use their phone.

    The number is 131673
    20th Mar 2014
    So does this mean we (Disability Support Pensioners) can only go overseas for a short while now? What if you want to go for much longer? I'm not good at going for short trips, and plan to go on a long one soon? I can't afford to be without payments, as some have commented below!... Does it really mean something like 6 weeks ONLY ??? Thanks if anyone replies
    20th Mar 2014
    new laws restrict treavel on DSP to only 6 weeks. but like others posted you can stay away for up to 13 weeks, but after 6 weeks your DSP will not be paid. after 13 weewks you will have to be reassesed under the new impairment tables and may be put on newstart. If you have residency ties abroad and spend alot of time abroad you may even be reassesed and kicked off the DSP permanently. Despite previously being allowed to spend 3 months abroad with no residency restrictions.

    I asked centrelink some time ago if it was ok to get married and have a family abroad. I was told it was ok and it would not affect my pension. So this was the greatest thing for me as I have never been m,arried or had children and at now 50yrs it was my last chance.

    I have been happily married nearly 10 years and have a wonderful 6yr old son. Now its all falling apart. the govt doesnt care about my family abroad and have even suggested leaving them. It's a heart breaking situation that despite fighting the system writing letters to politicians and trying my hardest to understand why they are doing this I kept just getting blunt letters back (if at all) quoting the leglislation.

    luckily I got to travel with my mother to the Philippines last year so she could finally meet my family. I advised centrelink of this when IO told them i was travelling abroad. Mum loved it so much there she decided to stay 7 months and come home to aus in January with me, after spending Christmas with us all together there.

    While Mum was there my familys rental house was destroyed in an earthquake. 2 weeks later the huge typhoon hit. luckily no one was hurt and they found another house to rent where mum could be comfortable.

    I was due to travel back with mum in Jan when my 6 weeks were up, but mum fell and frqactured her shoulder, and 10 days or so later was still bed bound with a drip and catheta. please bear in mind that mum is 86yrs old and needs time to recouperate.

    I emailed international services as all our funds went on the hospital bill and meds for mum. Not only this but Mums pension had been reduced to $190 from the start of 2014. I thought well we can make do as this is an exceptional circumstance and centrelink would take this into consideration (as its in the leglislation regarding family menbers being hospitalised). unfortunately I only got an email back from them saying I must call them, but I was in finanncial strife alreay and phone calls to a govt organisation could drain the money we needed to survive on (my DSP had aqlready been suspended as I was now over the 6weeks).

    one good thing was I emailed welfare rights and they helped as a go betwwen as international services didnt want to know about it. They couldnt help financially but did help explain what was happening to us.

    Anyway it all panned out ok as a daer freind of mind borrowed me some money so I could change my ticket and come back to australia and find out why mums pension had been reduced, and be reinbursed for the 6 weeks i wasnt paid. Mum was still having physio and wasnt able to travel at that stage.

    I got home and immediately called international services. they said that mums pension had been reduced to $190 fortnight as she was a new zealander and has only been in australia 33 years, instead of 35 years. (new AWLR rules from 2014).

    despite us cooming over in 1981, working hard and paying taxes mum was traeted like this. not only that but despite registering for online letters nothing was told to us about this happening if mum stayed out of the country over 6 months.

    I'm back in australia and have been for 2 weeks but mums still there. they said it couldtake 30daqys at least for the money to come from the 6 weeks i wasnt paid, and thats only IF its approved. I cant change mums ticket and bring her home till i have enough money to fly there and travel home with her.

    Mum just turned 87 today. My wife took her out for lunch and put on a small party for her.
    This country is swiftly going to the dogs and I really wish I could just be with my mum and my family on her birthday. I feel so depressed and lost over all thsi, but you know what? my family are so loving that they accept all this and still have so much faith. I just wish there was someone to turn to but when your on DSP no one wants to know about your problems even when you hqave abided by the govts laws and regulations.

    I am disgusted with the govt for telling me its ok to have a family then trying to take them away from me. then treating my mum like this. SHAME SHAME SHAME. mum is also so disgusted that she is saying Dad would be rolling in his grave after all the volunteer work they diod for the community here. (CWA, meals on wheels, driver reviver etc,etc)

    Happy 87th Birthday Mum.
    21st Mar 2014
    Please, all of us seniors, or anyone on centrelink benefits can appeal decisions made by Centrelink staff up to three times on the same topic. The same person cannot work on your appeal, and a new person each time assesses your appeal. I have done this in the past, and have won. Sometimes you meet a very digruntled staff member over the counter, who has no empathy for your problem, nor do they tell you, that you can appeal a decision. (We can all have an off day). Appeal!
    lady au
    20th Mar 2014
    I went overseas and came back a day before the cutoff but because I used the self serve passport entry, centrelink were not advised I had returned so they cut off my pension I rang them and they said according to immigration you are not in the country , so I had to go to the office only to be told the same thing even though i was standing in front of them they said the computer says you are overseas ...the frustration of dealing with computer programmed people just got to me and I said to them if I am not here where am I and also if I am not me who am I she answered the computer does not give us that information ...there had been a glich in the self serve re entry machines and it was not sorted for 2 weeks then I had to appeal to be re paid the money I had lost ....
    20th Mar 2014
    Tell them to PISS OFF! and appeal but you have to do it 3 times before you will win, I Know cause I have won 2 times now on other things, don't let them bully you and don't give up as this is what the want you to do.
    20th Mar 2014
    there is a helpful website with a forum that is there to help people on OAP and DSP. the members are helpful and despite some having the odd spit there is alot of info there and great advice. Im sure some of you know the site. If you just google: "DSPoverseas forum" and it should show up.

    if people dont want to be cut off due to overstaying abroad or need advice check out the forum. Its not just for DSP but also for OAP. they helped me alot with info as I cant read leglislation and the govt websites as i get so confused, but here they explain things easily.

    advice there may just save you being cut off the DSP or OAP if your travelling abroad. and if your calling centrelink always ask for a reciept number just incase you need it in the future.

    another thing that aggrevates me to no end is the way people on DSP are treated here and the elderly. Soon as I got back on the news 2 girls attacked a pensioner on a bus in brisbane, then a week later an old man was violently robbed for his funeral money he had been saving.
    20th Mar 2014
    What a load of rot, have people suddenly repaired whatever their disability was, talk about BS gone mad, bloody bureaucrats, who have no bloody idea of the real world. So if your disabled, don't save and try to live a life of equality, then we take away anyway of living at all.
    Stupid government ideas, notice how their pockets get fuller
    21st Mar 2014
    I think you can leave the country for an extended length of time if you speak to them , you will not lose the aged pension, but you will lose about $30 a week which is your concessions for rates, water and elect. I had to reapply to council for a discount with written forms to be handed to the council for my concession . I was not out of the country, but my passport was misplaced and they thought I had not returned to Australia..if you explain your situation they will give you the correct advice. .not a bad idea to put it in writing and keep a copy.
    21st Mar 2014
    Thanks Bella, that's sort of what I read between the lines - but it can be quite confusing sometimes!.. when you have to struggle to save enough to be able to go, it sure helps if you know what is going to happen from DSP etc... you have enough to face just getting everything else right as well... agree about getting it all it writing... it would at least help if there are any disputes etc... cheers

    22nd Mar 2014
    It might have been a better idea for Russ to have come home before he left...oh no we do not want to confuse Centrelink do we?

    22nd Mar 2014
    The trick is to always keep one step ahead of the Govt...they are not that smart so it is not a hard thing to do. They go by information and you need to look at dealing with the Govt as if you were playing a game of chess and you need to keep them in CHECK. AS soon as you pass through immigration (either way) that info is sent to Centrelink straight away. So plan a trip and allow a couple days and tell them only what you want them to know, be honest but keep them on the fishing line, not the other way around. Then you'll be in charge. You need to be cunning yet harmless.

    22nd Mar 2014
    On the other hand, if you could board a private aircraft and parachute into the country you want and arrange to be picked up by a submarine for your return trip..... NAH... too hard...better get a ticket
    24th Mar 2014
    I work in a professional capacity. It is impossible for me to maintain my residence and travel overseas for months.i have not visited friends or family overseas for 30 years. I find it hard to understand how people on pensions are able to do both? I wish you all luck in trying to manage the government and your incomes. It just baffles me how you are able to manage it. Am I missing something? Would love to know how you do it!
    24th Mar 2014
    I should add I am approaching pension age now and very worried about maintain game modest residence with bills, insurance, maintenance etc. how do you manage long trips abroad also? Please help me with this.
    24th Mar 2014
    Linda I haven't been o/s for 32 years!...I was thinking that I have scrimped for decades, and maybe I*'d like to go for more than the 6 weeks they say !!! as I probably won't do it again either!.. I have ALWAYS been saving for this - and I don't really think the government should be able to say how long etc... I am hardly travelling all the time!
    24th Mar 2014
    Artlynk, I hope you can have your long trip, I agree that the government should not dictate how long you can be away. Unfortunately I suspect that the government is trying to restrict those people who are potentially exploiting the system and people like you are paying the price. I am currently in the position that I am not beholden to government benefits but I worry about when I might be. I understand where you are coming from and hope I did not cause offence.
    24th Mar 2014
    Linda, I am on Disability Pension!.. so it will affect me one way or other!.. I am just becoming aware of the situation as it is now.. and thought I might like to go for that last trip before I drop off the mortal coil - no offence taken! cheers

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