When pensions are treated differently

John wants to know what happens to his overseas pension payment if he gets married.

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Q. John
I spend more than six months a year overseas and I qualify to be paid my pension (with extras taken off) for all the time I’m out of the country. I have a friend whose pension is reduced by two-thirds after six months overseas. We want to get married, live together and travel together. We would then receive a couple pension. Will Centrelink reduce our pension after six months?

A. I can understand your confusion, but it is important to remember that when referring to the Age Pension you can be paid at the couple’s rate or the single’s rate, but you are still assessed individually, particularly when it comes to the rules regarding overseas pension payments.

So, if you get married you will both move from the single’s rate to the couple’s rate, assuming you still meet the eligibility requirements as a couple (if you both own your own property and retain the two properties you may not be eligible for the pension as a couple).

While you will see a change in the rate of your pension payment, when you move overseas, that pension payment will continue to see minimal change when you spend six months or more overseas (the payment will still drop to the basic rate and you will lose the energy supplement as you have mentioned).

Your partner’s pension payment will continue to reduce by two-thirds when she spends six months or more overseas as was the case previously.

Her pension is reduced to a proportional rate based on her Australian working life residence, which is the number of years she has resided in Australia since age 16 to Age Pension age.

You have obviously lived in Australia for 35 years or more, which is why your rate doesn’t reduce, but your partner has possibly lived in Australia for around one-third of her working life, which is why she has her payment reduced.

Have you recently married? Did you have pension concerns about the arrangement?

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Written by Ben

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