Can I still get the Age Pension if I go overseas?

Travelling overseas – will it affect your Age Pension?

18 February 2016: Centrelink has a range of rules that apply when you travel outside of Australia and are receiving the age pension. The rate that you receive may change.

Generally, you’ll receive the Age Pension while you’re outside of Australia, even if you live in a different country or just want to leave for a short time. The amount you’re paid may change depending on the length of time you’ve been gone and your personal circumstances.

If you’ve been living overseas and have just returned to Australia, if you start to receive the Age Pension in this time period, you won’t be paid if you go outside of Australia until you live in Australia for two years.

Absence from Australia, if less than six weeks, is noted as temporary travel and is included in the two-year period if you’re an Australian resident.

Who should you tell if you’re travelling?

It’s best to inform the Australian Department of Human Services, better known as Centrelink, if you’re receiving the Age Pension and you plan to travel. You should tell the department if you:

  • Decide to move and live overseas.
  • You take an absence from Australian greater than six weeks.
  • Are covered by an international social security agreement.
  • Started receiving Age Pension upon returning to Australia and residing for the last two years.

Age Pension rate while outside Australia

Age Pension rates normally won’t change if your travel doesn’t exceed six weeks. If it does, you’ll be paid at an outside Australia rate. You’ll receive the basic rate and the energy supplement stops:

  • Subsequently to your six weeks of temporary travel.
  • When you leave Australia and go live overseas.

Under an international social security agreement, the amount you’re paid in your time outside Australia, is determined by agreeing on certain rules.

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What happens after I’ve left Australia for more than 26 weeks?

Once the 26 weeks you’ve spent out of Australia are finished, the length of your Australian residency will determine your rate. The rate calculations need to consider your length of residency from the age of 16 to the Pension age.

To receive the full pension rate, normally the required number of residency years is 35 years.

However, if you received the Pension or other government pensions while out of Australia on the 1st of July 2014, you need to be an Australian resident for 25 years to qualify for the full rate if you haven’t stayed in Australia for 26 weeks upon your return.

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Off to New Zealand!

If you’re headed to New Zealand, the Age Pension is slightly different to other countries you may visit or live in. Age Pension can be modified depending on the agreement you have with New Zealand and your arrival date if you:

  • Move and live in New Zealand.
  • Visit New Zealand while leaving Australia for more than 12 months or just plan to live and move around to and from different countries.
  • Have spent over 26 weeks outside Australia and make a trip to New Zealand.

The NZ agreement states that your rate is determined by the number of years you’ve lived in Australia and NZ combined through the ages of 20 and 65.

Transferring your pension back to your home country

If you currently have your age pension transferred to your bank account in another country, you may be getting ripped off if you’re using the banks. Using an international money transfer service can help you save up to $60 every $1,000 you transfer overseas – they can even organise to transfer your money every fortnight or month you receive the pension.

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