What happens when you go OS?

Elmarie was told her pension payments will stop if she leaves Australia for more than six weeks, but is that actually the case?


Q. Elmarie
Is it possible for you to tell me what happens to my Age Pension if I am out of Australia for more the six weeks? I am 69 years young and have a son, daughter-in-law and two delightful grandsons living in South Africa. I miss them terribly and my son pays for me to fly over and visit every year, sometimes twice a year. A lady at Centrelink told me I can only go for a maximum of six weeks a year, but I’ve subsequently heard that that’s not the case. Could you please help me with this issue?

A. It is possible to get the Age Pension for the whole time you’re overseas, whether you have left Australia on a temporary or permanent basis. There are, however, a number of factors relating to your working life residence in Australia and your residency status before you first applied for the pension that can have an effect on it.

If you come back to live in Australia from another country and start getting the Age Pension, you must remain in Australia for two years or your pension payment will stop altogether.

Assuming that your pension meets the portability requirements mentioned above, we can then look at what will happen to your payments based on how long you spend overseas.

If you leave Australia for less than six weeks, your Age Pension payment rate normally won’t change.

If you leave Australia for more than six weeks, your pension payment will drop to the basic rate and your energy supplement payment will cease.

If you remain outside Australia for longer than 26 weeks, your pension will be reduced to a proportional rate based on your ‘Australian working life residence’ (AWLR). This is the number of years you have resided in Australia since age 16 to Age Pension age.

If you have lived in Australia for 35 years (420 months), then you are paid the full rate of Age Pension to which you are entitled. If, for example, you have only resided in Australia for 20 years, then you will be paid 241/420 of the Age Pension (20 x12 plus an extra month).

Do you have question regarding the Age Pension or other Centrelink benefits?

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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 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 Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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