Many Australians are now considering retiring overseas to make their retirement savings go further. However are you aware how retiring overseas can impact your rights to the Australian pension?
Before discussing this topic further, social security entitlements are complex, and are changing regularly with new legislation. Entitlements are also a function of numerous factors, including your assets and income, whether there are any International Social Security Agreements in place between Australia and the country you are retiring to, your period of residence in Australia during your working life, and your place of residence at retirement age. We strongly advise you to discuss your personal situation with your registered financial advisor or Centrelink.
For clarity, please note, when referring to the Australian pension, we mean the Australian Aged Pension.
Can you get the Australian Pension If Retiring Overseas?
Australian citizens (and Australian permanent visa holders) will generally be entitled to receive the Australian pension if you choose to retire overseas (subject to meeting the usual pension eligibility criteria and scales). However, your entitlement may be reduced based on your personal situation and how long you live overseas.
The Australian government has entered into a number of International Social Security Agreements. If you are retiring overseas in a country that Australia has such an agreement with, then the amount of pension you receive will be determined in accordance with that agreement.
There are certain rules relating to residency at the time you start receiving the Australian pension that you will also need to satisfy. If you have been living and working overseas prior to reaching pension age, you will need to return to Australia to apply for the pension. You will need to reside in Australia for at least two years before you will be entitled to continue claiming the Australian pension when you move overseas. This restriction however may not apply if you are moving to a country that Australia has an International Social Security Agreement with.
Do I need to advise Centrelink if I plan to live overseas?
Centrelink advises that you should tell them you are leaving Australia when you :
- plan to live in another country
- will be away for more than six weeks
- are being paid under an international social security Agreement; or
- you returned to Australia within the previous two years and started receiving the Australian pension
How much Australian pension will I receive if retiring overseas?
If you retire overseas, then your pension entitlements will change to what is known as the “outside Australia rate”. Under the Outside Australia rate your pension supplement will be reduced to the basic rate and the energy supplement will be suspended.
If you receive the Australian pension under an international social security arrangement, then the agreement will dictate the amount you are paid whilst living outside Australia.
Australian Pension after 26 weeks outside Australia
After 26 weeks your Australian pension will be determined based on how long you lived in Australia as an Australian resident between the age of 16 and the pension age. These rules may apply to those people living in a country where there is an international social security arrangement.
To get a full means tested Australian pension (after being outside Australia for more than 26 weeks), you will need to have lived in Australia as an Australian resident for at least 35 years from the day you turned 16. If you lived in Australia for less than 35 years, your pension is likely to be prorata’d accordingly.
Centrelink provides the example, that if you lived in Australia for 10 years between the age of 16 and pension age, you will generally receive 10/35ths of the full means tested rate.
The Australian government as part of the 2015 May Budget, sought to restrict the amount of Australian pensions being paid to Australians living overseas. These new rules have currently stalled in the Senate but were due to come in effect as of 1 January 2017. Should the legislation pass the Senate it would result in the prorating of pensions for people having lived in Australia for less than 35 years to apply after being outside of Australia for 6 weeks rather than 26 weeks.
Other Commonwealth Benefits That May Be Affected When Retiring Overseas
Should you wish to access healthcare back in Australia once you have moved overseas, you will need to consider your rights to access Medicare services. You can read our article – Medicare Implications for Australians Living Overseas
Reciprocal Health Care Arrangements
Australians may be entitled to reciprocal health care arrangements when living in certain countries overseas. Where applicable the reciprocal services are limited in scope, and are not an adequate replacement for international health insurance.
Health Care Card & Pensioner Concession Card
If you leave Australia to live in another country, your health care card and pensioner concession cards will be cancelled on departure.
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
If you leave Australia to live in another country, your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card will be cancelled on departure.
For more information on payments impacted by moving overseas, please visit the Centrelink website
Disclaimer : This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute financial or taxation advice. As this information is not advice and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness for your circumstances. Independent advice should be obtained from an Australian financial services licensee before making investment decisions, and a registered (tax) financial advisor/accountant in relation to taxation decisions. To the extent permitted by law, we exclude all liability for any loss or damage arising in any way. We may receive referral commissions from companies referred in this article.