Monday, June 8, 2015

Age Pension Portability

We have again been called in to help an age pensioner who was incorrectly assessed by Centrelink with respect to ‘living’ overseas.

Centrelink state that from 1 July 2014 new rules will apply regarding the period of Australian working life residence required to receive a full means-tested pension outside Australia after 26 weeks. To continue receiving your full rate of Australian pension you will generally need to have spent 35 years of your working life in Australia. This is an increase from the current requirement to have 25 years of Australian working life residence.” Read more here
and “as at June 2012 there were 73,158 recipients of the Australian Age Pension residing overseas.”.

Without going into the individual case let’s look at two scenarios

Tony moves to Italy and still gets the full pension entitlement.

Tony had been living and working in Australia since he was 15. After he retired and claimed the age pension he decided to travel overseas to Italy and live with family for a few years. Because Tony had been a resident in Australia for more than 50 years he continues to receive his pension while he is living in Italy.

Tony continues to receive his entitlement as he has more than 35 years “working life”. The Australian Government calls this the Australian Working Life Residence (AWLR) - more here. It does not actually mean that you need to be working for those 35 years; you could be a student for many years, take long holidays, be ‘on the dole’ for the whole period etc.

Joel moves to Thailand and only receives part of his pension entitlement.

Joel had a business that went bankrupt and he lost everything. After 20 years of running a small business and only 3 years before he turned 65 he decided to live with friends in Thailand and avoid ‘going on the dole’. There is no international agreement with Thailand so Joel must return to Australia to claim the age pension - for information on countries with agreements.

Joel submits his claim and then goes back to Thailand to say goodbye, sell his possessions etc. Centrelink then treated him as a non-resident and his claim is rejected. He returns to Australia and re-submits his claim. He then lives in Australia on the full pension with rent assistance, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Pensioner Card etc. If he leaves Australia within 2 years Joel will loose eligibility and will need to re-apply upon returning to Australia.

After 2 years residing back in Australia his entitlement is then deemed ‘portable’ so he goes back to Thailand. Joel then finds out he is then only entitled to approx. 80% of his pension. 

This is because he only had 28 years of “working life” or AWLR. An approx. calculation is 28 working years / 35 = 0.8 or 80%.

NOTE: This blog contains general information only and does not constitute advice. If you need advice on the age pension portability please contact us or call Centrelink on 132 300.

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