7.1.2.20 Application of Portability Rules (Portability Table)

Summary

For recipients who are covered by an international social security agreement, see 1.1.A.120 and 7.1.1.20.

The following table shows for how long and under what conditions payments are portable.

Payment Recipient Absence Period Special conditions
Age All Any Unlimited

All former residents (7.1.4) have a 24-month waiting period before their pension is portable outside Australia.

Payment may be proportionalised (7.2.2.10) after 26 weeks overseas absence.

DSP All (excluding those with indefinite portability (see DSP recipients below))

Any temporary absence.

A general portability period of up to 4 weeks in a 12-month period (do not have to be consecutive days and excludes days not in receipt of the DSP or approved temporary absences).

Severely disabled DSP recipients may be entitled to a discretionary portability extension if they have a family member who has been posted overseas for work.

SSAct section 1218AB Extended portability period for DSP

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of DSP will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

All former residents (7.1.4) have a 24-month waiting period before their pension is portable outside Australia.

DSP All (excluding those with indefinite portability (see DSP recipients below))

An approved temporary absence:

  • to seek eligible medical treatment (SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'), or
  • to attend to an acute family crisis (section 1212A)
  • for a humanitarian purpose (section 1212B).
Up to 4 weeks

A DSP recipient does not need to exhaust their general 4-week portability prior to seeking an approved temporary absence,nor does this period count towards the DSP recipient's allowable 4 weeks portability in a 12-month period.

If required, a DSP recipient can add all or part of their general 4-week portability period to the end of their approved temporary absence without the need to return to Australia first.

DSP DSP (terminal illness) Any temporary or permanent Unlimited

Severely disabled DSP recipients who are in the terminal phase of a terminal illness can have unlimited portability if they are departing permanently to their country of origin, or to be with, or near, a family member.

Terminal phase of a terminal illness means a life expectancy of less than 2 years.

Payment may be proportionalised (7.2.2.10) after 26 weeks overseas absence if CITW did not occur in Australia.

SSAct section 1218AA Unlimited portability period for DSP-terminally ill overseas disability support pensioner

SS Guide 3.6.2.20 Manifest Grants & Rejections for DSP

DSP DSP (permanently and severely impaired and no future work capacity with indefinite portability) Any temporary or permanent  

From 1 July 2012 DSP recipients with a permanent and severe impairment and no future work capacity are eligible for indefinite portability of their pension. A DSP recipient may be granted indefinite portability if the JCA indicates that, based on the evidence and the assessor's professional opinion, it is unlikely they will have any capacity to undertake work in the open employment market at or above the relevant minimum wage in the next 5 years, even with interventions. DSP recipients applying for portability under these provisions are required to undergo an assessment of their impairment and their future work capacity in Australia prior to departure.

Payment may be proportionalised (7.2.2.10) after 26 weeks overseas absence if CITW did not occur in Australia.

SSAct section 1218AAA Unlimited portability period for DSP-severely impaired disability support pensioner

SS Guide 7.1.2.10 General rules of portability, 7.1.1.10 Overview of portability legislation

WP Entitled person (1.1.E.120) Any Unlimited

Payment may be proportionalised (7.2.2.10) after 26 weeks overseas absence.

WP Other than entitled person Any Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of WP will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period.

If the student returns to Australia for more than 6 weeks a new portability period will commence for any subsequent overseas travel related to their Australian course.

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

CP All Any temporary Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of CP will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period.

If the student returns to Australia for more than 6 weeks a new portability period will commence for any subsequent overseas travel related to their Australian course.

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

Important: Also see 3.6.4.80 Qualification for CP during Overseas Travel - Carer travels without the care receiver.

Note: A carer accompanying a DSP recipient with terminal illness should be regarded as going overseas for a temporary period and therefore may be entitled to 6 weeks portability.

BVA All Any Unlimited

All former residents (7.1.4) have a 24-month waiting period before their pension is portable outside Australia.

WidB Entitled person (1.1.E.120) Any Unlimited

Payment may be proportionalised (7.2.2.10) after 26 weeks overseas absence.

WidB Person other than entitled person Any Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of WidB will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period.

If the student returns to Australia for more than 6 weeks a new portability period will commence for any subsequent overseas travel related to their Australian course.

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

WA All Any temporary Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of WA will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period.

If the student returns to Australia for more than 6 weeks a new portability period will commence for any subsequent overseas travel related to their Australian course.

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

PP All Any temporary Up to 6 weeks

Portable for the duration of absence for Reserves service.

SSAct section 1218A Exception-Reserve service

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of PP will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period.

If the student returns to Australia for more than 6 weeks a new portability period will commence for any subsequent overseas travel related to their Australian course.

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

PP is not portable for recipients who were cancelled overseas previously because of portability provisions and who returned to Australia and have not stayed in the country for more than 6 weeks since the last absence.

Note: This 6-week return rule does not affect a PP recipient who returns to Australia and then is granted portability under the SSAct section 1218 to undertake study overseas.

SSAct section 1218B Exception-waiting period in Australia before parenting payment is portable

Austudy All

An approved temporary absence:

  • to seek eligible medical treatment
    (SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment') or
  • to attend to an acute family crisis
    (section 1212A)
Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of Austudy will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course, section 1218A Exception-Reserve service, section 1218BA Exception-new apprentices

NSA NSA recipients An approved temporary absence:
  • to seek eligible medical treatment
    (SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'),
  • to attend to an acute family crisis
    (section 1212A) or
  • for a humanitarian purpose
    (section 1212B).
Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.

A recipient has to be exempted from the activity test.

SS Guide 3.2.1.10 Qualification for NSA

Portable for any length absence for Reserves service

SSAct section 1218A Exception-Reserve service

YA Non-full-time students An approved temporary absence:
  • to seek eligible medical treatment
    (SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'),
  • to attend to an acute family crisis
    (section 1212A), or
  • for a humanitarian purpose (section 1212B).
Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.

A recipient has to be exempted from the activity test for the period of absence.

Also portable for any length absence for Reserves service.

SSAct section 1218A Exception-Reserve service

YA Full-time students

An approved temporary absence:

  • to seek eligible medical treatment
    (SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'),
  • to attend to an acute family crisis
    (section 1212A)
Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the entire period of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of YA (student) will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course, section 1218A Exception-Reserve service, section 1218BA Exception-new apprentices

SA All An approved temporary absence:
  • to seek eligible medical treatment
    (SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'),
  • to attend to an acute family crisis
    (section 1212A), or
  • for a humanitarian purpose
    (section 1212B).
Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.  
SpB All See Note An approved temporary absence:
  • to seek eligible medical treatment
    (SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'),
  • to attend to an acute family crisis
    (section 1212A), or
  • for a humanitarian purpose
    (section 1212B).
Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.

Note: Subject to the Department of Home Affairs' approval for travel, portability may be available to holders of a subclass 785 (Class XD) TPV or a subclass 790 Safe Haven Enterprise visa.

PA All Any temporary Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of PA will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period.

If the student returns to Australia for more than 6 weeks a new portability period will commence for any subsequent overseas travel related to their Australian course.

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

CA All Any temporary Up to 6 weeks

Note: A carer accompanying a DSP recipient with terminal illness should be regarded as going overseas for a temporary period and therefore may be entitled to 6 weeks portability

MOB All Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

(except for DSP recipients with 4 weeks portability in a 12-month period)

Entitlement to the base or standard rate of MOB remains at 6 weeks.

Ancillary Payments
Payment Recipient Absence Period

Special conditions

TAL All Any temporary

6 weeks

 
RA All Any temporary Same as substantive payment - end of allowable temporary overseas absence

Can be paid up to 26 weeks of a temporary absence to age pensioners, WP ('entitled'), WidB ('entitled') and, from 1 July 2012, DSP recipients with severe and permanent impairment and no future work capacity.

RAA All Any temporary 8 weeks allowable absence from remote area

SSAct section 14(2) If a person's usual place of residence…

Pension supplement All (excluding any with indefinite portability - see pension supplement basic amount below) Any temporary Same as substantive payment - end of allowable temporary overseas absence

People residing in Australia may receive the full rate of pension supplement during a temporary absence for the allowed portability for the substantive payment.

Pension supplement basic amount

(former GST Supplement)

- All Age,
- DSP (with indefinite portability),
- Entitled WP and WidB, AND
- Exceptions for some payments (i.e. when studying an approved course overseas).

Any absence Same as substantive payment

Age, entitled WP and WidB, and DSP recipients (with indefinite portability) the supplement reduces to the basic amount at 6 weeks.

IA All Any temporary Same as substantive payment - end of allowable temporary overseas absence

Can be paid up to 26 weeks of a temporary absence to age pensioners, WP ('entitled') and WidB ('entitled').

PhA All Any temporary Same as substantive payment - end of allowable temporary overseas absence  
UA All Any temporary Same as substantive payment - end of allowable temporary overseas absence

Payable on a test day if a temporary absence from Australia has not exceeded the allowed portability period for the primary payment.

SS Guide 3.8.13 UA - Qualification & Payability

ES All Any temporary Same as substantive payment - end of allowable temporary overseas absence Up to 6 weeks for CSHC holders.

Note: A person can only be paid during an overseas absence if they remain qualified for payment.

Act reference: SSAct section 1212D Part does not affect need for qualification

General Portability for DSP - 4 weeks in a 12-month period

The table below explains the 4 weeks, in a 12-month period, portability provisions for DSP recipients who do not qualify for unlimited portability.

Situation Description
Departure from Australia before 1 January 2015

DSP recipients who left Australia prior to 1 January 2015 will be paid under the current 6-week portability rules for that trip.

DSP recipient outside Australia on 1 January 2015, will have the days accruing from 1 January 2015 counted as part of the 4-week portability period.

Example: Sam is receiving DSP and departed from Australia on a 40 day overseas trip on 17 December 2014 (first day of his 12-month period). He expects to return to Australia on 26 January 2015. Because Sam was overseas on 1 January 2015, the period overseas from 1 January 2015 up to and including 25 January 2015 will count towards the 4-week portability period. Therefore Sam will have 3 days portability remaining from the 12-month period.

Multiple trips within the 12-month period

DSP recipients can generally travel overseas, and retain their pension, for up to 4 weeks in a 12-month period. The 4 weeks general portability period can comprise a number of shorter trips, provided the total overseas travel does not exceed 4 weeks (28 days) in a 12-month period. The 4 weeks excludes days when the person was not on payment or the person has an approved temporary absence.

Example: In April 2015, James (DSP recipient) and his carer Chris travelled to Fiji for 7 days. On their return they booked a further overseas trip to Bali for 14 days, from 15 July 2015. In November 2015 they were invited to a wedding in Thailand and decided to use the balance of their 4-week portability entitlement. James and Chris were able to take advantage of the opportunity to take multiple trips in the 12-month period.

Rolling 12-month periods

The period of 12 months is determined on a rolling basis. For example, if a DSP recipient departs Australia on a temporary overseas trip on 1 May 2015 the 12-month portability entitlement period commences from that date and ends on 30 April 2016. If the person does not depart overseas again until 20 December 2018, then the 12-month period will commence from that date. Approved temporary absences do not count towards this 12-month rolling period.

Example: Robyn purchased tickets for a 4-week cruise around New Zealand which departed on 1 May 2015. Robyn has used her 4-week portability entitlement for the 12-month period and will not be able to travel, and retain her full rate of payment, before 30 April 2016 (unless special circumstances apply). Robyn did not travel overseas again until 20 December 2018. Her 4-week portability period would commence from that date.

Approved temporary absences

In limited circumstances, defined in the legislation, a person may be granted an approved temporary absence of up to 4 weeks. These circumstances include attending an acute family crisis, seeking medical treatment not available in Australia or for a defined humanitarian purpose. If required, a DSP recipient can add all or part of their general 4-week portabillity period (if available) to the end of their approved temporary absence without the need to return to Australia first.

Example: Lucy has a very rare genetic disorder which cannot be treated in Australia. She used 2 weeks of her 4-week portability period in February 2015 on a holiday. She therefore only had another 2 weeks general portability of her DSP until February 2016. Lucy applied to Centrelink for an approved temporary absence of 3 weeks to go to the UK in July 2015 to receive the medical treatment, unavailable in Australia. Lucy wished to then spend another 2 weeks after her treatment holidaying in Europe. Lucy continued to receive her DSP for the 5-week period, the first 3 weeks as an approved temporary absence and the last 2 weeks as part of her general 4-week portability.

Overseas absences of more than 4 weeks in a 12-month period

DSP recipients who travel overseas for more than 4 weeks in a 12-month period will have their payment suspended unless they:

  • have an approved temporary absence (limited to those approved reasons),
  • are studying overseas as part of a full-time Australian course,
  • are severely disabled and dependent on and living with, a family member who has been temporarily posted to work outside Australia,
  • are severely disabled and DSP can be paid under an international social security agreement,
  • have been assessed in Australia prior to departure as having a permanent, severe impairment and no future work capacity, or
  • been granted an extension to their portability period.

They will not be eligible to be back paid for any unapproved period in excess of 4 weeks that they spend overseas.

Act reference: SSAct section 1217 Meaning of maximum portability period, allowable absence and portability period, section 1218AA Unlimited portability period for DSP-terminally ill overseas disability support pensioner, 1218AA(3) If the Secretary…, section 1212B Meaning of humanitarian purpose, section 1212-'eligible medical treatment', section 1212A Meaning of acute family crisis

Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 6) Act 2014 Schedule 5 clause 10 Application and transitional provisions

Social Security Regulation 2012 section 4 Meaning of humanitarian purpose

Portability of Age for recipients with a qualifying residence exemption

Refugees and former refugees are exempted from qualifying residence criterion for Age. As the QRE only applies when the recipient resides in Australia, the pension is portable for TEMPORARY ABSENCES only. If the recipient has not accumulated 10 years of residence before departure and the overseas absence is not temporary, the recipient will not be able to meet the residence criterion and will lose qualification for the pension. Long-term absences that are in reality permanent should be treated as such.

Act reference: SSAct section 43 Qualification for age pension, section 94 Qualification for DSP, section 7(3) Residing in Australia, section 7(6) Qualifying residence exemption

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.4.1.10 Qualification for Age, 3.6.1.10 Qualification for DSP - 30 Hour Rule, 3.6.1.12 Qualification for DSP - 15 Hour Rule, 3.1.1 Residence Requirements

Acute family crisis

A recipient's overseas absence for the purpose of attending to an acute family crisis can be for a limited and specified period of time. The delegate must be satisfied that the absence is:

  • for the purpose of visiting a family member who is critically ill, or
  • for the purpose of visiting a family member who is hospitalised with a serious illness, or
  • for a purpose relating to the death of a family member, or
  • for a purpose relating to a life-threatening situation (other than an illness referred to in the first 2 dot points) that:
    • is facing a family member, and
    • is beyond the control of the family member.

If the recipient's circumstances satisfy the acute family crisis criteria then payments may continue only for a reasonable amount of time (up to the allowed portability period for the qualifying payment) for the recipient to visit an ill family member, deal with a family member's death or to deal with a life threatening situation.

Two weeks will normally be sufficient for a recipient to visit a family member who is critically ill or who has been hospitalised with a serious illness.

The criteria for an acute family crisis (as provided by the legislation) indicates that, in most cases, the circumstances under which payment can be made while a recipient is overseas will be due to an immediate or emergency family situation. Consideration must be given to the meaning of the term 'acute' when assessing a critical or serious illness. An illness that quickly becomes very severe should be contrasted with a chronic condition. In the normal course of events a recipient wishing to visit a family member suffering from an ongoing medical condition is not covered by this provision.

Example 1: The recipient's family member is currently critically ill.

Example 2: The recipient's family member is hospitalised with a serious illness.

Example 3: The recipient's family member is currently facing a life threatening situation.

Example 4: The recipient's family member has recently died.

Where the circumstances relate to the death of a family member, however, and subject to decision maker's satisfaction that the main reason for the travel relates to the death of a family member, consideration can be given to paying the recipient while overseas at any time after the family member's death, even when the travel is not in the period immediately following the death of the family member.

Applicable situations where overseas travel might relate to the death of a family member and where the circumstances are not immediate or an emergency, could include the following scenarios:

  • where a funeral or memorial service for the recipient's deceased family member is delayed due to factors outside the recipient's control,
  • where the body of the recipient's deceased family member is found after being missing or is released after being held for purposes relating to a legal investigation, or
  • where the recipient was unfit for travel immediately after the family member's death (the recipient must have sufficient medical evidence to demonstrate that they were unfit for travel at the earlier time).

The decision maker may also give consideration to paying the recipient while overseas if the recipient's family member is facing a life threatening situation which is beyond the family member's control.

Example 1: A family member is taken hostage.

Example 2: A family member has been subjected to a creditable threat upon their life.

If the recipient's circumstances satisfy the criteria for an acute family crisis, then they may be paid while overseas for a specific negotiated period of no longer than the allowed portability period for the qualifying payment. The length of payment will be restricted to the period of time required for the recipient to deal with the particular acute family crisis.

Recipients who wish to remain overseas following an approved visit to provide ongoing care to a family member are no longer considered to be 'visiting' and cease to be payable under this provision.

Act reference: SSAct section 1212A Meaning of acute family crisis

Humanitarian purpose

A recipient's overseas absence for a humanitarian purpose can be for a limited and specified period of time if the recipient is:

  • involved in custody proceedings,
  • adopting a child,
  • involved in legal proceedings other than those in respect of a crime allegedly committed by the recipient,
  • a formally selected member of the Australian Paralympic Team, for participation as a competitor, at the international athletic competition known as the Paralympic Games,
  • in receipt of a DSP and is attending a lead-up event to prepare or qualify as a competitor at the international athletic competition known as the Paralympic Games, within 12 months prior to a Paralympic Games, or
  • attending a memorial service that has been approved by the Australian Government to commemorate an event involving the death or serious injury of an Australian resident, if the recipient is the person who was seriously injured at that event, or is a family member of a person who died or was seriously injured at that event.

Other legal proceedings include circumstances such as where a recipient is required to appear as a witness.

DSP can continue overseas for additional approved periods of up to 4 weeks at a time in the 12 months prior to the Paralympic Games for the purpose of attending a lead-up event. Verification of the event details and attendance requirements is required by an appropriate body (e.g. Australian Sports Commission) approved by the Department responsible for Sport.

If the recipient's circumstances satisfy the humanitarian purpose criteria, then payments may continue for a specific negotiated period of no longer than the allowed portability period for the qualifying payment. The length of payment will be restricted to the period of time required for the recipient to deal with the particular humanitarian purpose.

Act reference: SSAct section 1212B Meaning of humanitarian purpose

Social Security Regulation 2012 section 4 Meaning of humanitarian purpose

Eligible medical treatment

Eligible medical treatment, in relation to a recipient, means medical treatment of a kind that is not available to the recipient in Australia. It could include specialised or new types of surgery such as transplants or other kinds of treatment. Such a determination would be guided by the opinions of registered Australian medical practitioners. However, treatment does not necessarily satisfy the definition of eligible medical treatment just because a doctor approves or recommends the treatment. For example, iridology, herbal treatment, faith healing and similar treatments are not considered to be eligible medical treatment.

If the recipient's circumstances satisfy the eligible medical treatment criteria, then payments may continue for a specific negotiated period of no longer than the allowed portability period for the qualifying payment. The length of payment will be restricted to the period of time required to complete the treatment, including recuperation and any allowances that must be made for return travel.

Act reference: SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'

Recipient class - entitled persons

An entitled person is NOT disqualified for WP or WidB simply because they are absent from Australia for more than the allowed portability period.

An entitled person is a woman who:

  • was an Australian resident for at least 10 years at any time, or
  • is receiving WidB because her legal husband died, or
  • was, or is the partner (1.1.P.85) of a man who was affected by the so called 'Greek conspiracy' allegations.

Explanation: In March and April 1978, 181 people were charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth - the so called 'Greek conspiracy allegations'. The charges related to allegations that they had made, or were connected with, fraudulent claims for social security benefits. As well as those charged, many hundreds more had their payments cancelled or suspended because they were believed to have also been related, indirectly, to the 'conspiracy'. Most of the charges of 'conspiracy' were eventually dropped following Committal Hearings or judicial proceedings. Following recommendations by a Committee of Inquiry, it was decided to compensate those affected by the case. Details of those affected are held in the Public Law Branch of DSS.

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident is a person who…

Recipient class - full-time student

YA portability rules depend on whether a recipient is undertaking approved full-time study.

Full-time students & Australian Apprentices going overseas for the purpose of undertaking study or training as part of their full-time Australian course or apprenticeship

Recipients of YA, Austudy, PP, DSP, CP, WA, WP, WidB and PA who are going overseas for the purpose of undertaking study as a part of their full-time Australian course may be paid for the entire duration of the study. If a student is going overseas for this purpose it is a requirement that they provide evidence that their overseas study can be credited towards their Australian course.

Recipients of PP, CP, WA, WP, WidB and PA may also access portability provisions for periods totalling 6 weeks. The total period of 6 weeks can be taken at the beginning and/or end of their study (except for YA (student), Austudy and DSP).

From 1 January 2015:

  • YA and Austudy are not portable unless the student is undertaking approved/qualifying overseas study as a part of their full-time Australian course.
  • DSP is portable for a total of up to 4 weeks in a 12-month period. DSP can be paid for a longer period in the case of approved overseas study that is part of a full-time course in Australia.
  • YA, Austudy, DSP students can continue to access 6 weeks portability if they departed Australia before 1 January 2015. Recipients who return to Australia on or after 1 January 2015 are subject to the new portability rules for any subsequent trips overseas.

From 1 January 2013:

  • YA and Austudy recipients were eligible to remain on payment while overseas for up to 6 weeks without limitation. The 6-week portability period was in addition to any time spent undertaking eligible overseas study or training.

Prior to 1 January 2013:

  • the portability period for YA, Austudy and DSP was 13 weeks.

Australian Apprentices in receipt of YA, Austudy, PP, DSP, CP, WA, WP, WidB and PA will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian Apprenticeship and they continue to satisfy the definition of an Australian Apprentice (1.1.A.324).

Nothing in the portability provisions confer a right for a person to continue to be paid overseas if they are not qualified for their payment. It is therefore important to always check that the overseas absence does not interfere with the person remaining qualified for the payment.

Where a person's payment is suspended, payment can be reinstated with respect to the period that the Secretary is satisfied that the person is absent from Australia for the purpose of undertaking studies as part of their full-time Australian course.

Example 1: Raymond is receiving Austudy and decides to go overseas for a holiday to India. On leaving Australia, Raymond's Austudy is suspended. After 4 weeks overseas Raymond contacts Centrelink and says that he wishes to stay overseas to undertake study as part of his Australian course. Raymond is able to provide Centrelink with the relevant documentation showing that his overseas study can be credited towards his full-time Australian course and that his 16-week study period will start immediately. In line with SSAct section 1218(2) Raymond's Austudy can be reinstated once he commences studying in India. He can receive his payment for 16 weeks, being for the period of eligible overseas study. In this scenario, Raymond's maximum portability period ceases once his approved overseas study period ends.

Example 2: Julie is qualified for DSP. Under SSAct section 1218(2) Centrelink has granted Julie a 15-week portability period for the purpose of overseas study. At week 14 Julie contacts Centrelink from overseas and asks whether it is possible for her to stay overseas for a further 4-week holiday in Thailand. As Julie's approved overseas study portability period began from the date she left Australia, once she has completed her overseas study she has been paid for more than 4 weeks in a 12-month period. Payment will stop once the overseas study period has been completed if Julie chooses to remain outside Australia.

Commencing student payments overseas

Continuing students

A continuing full-time student, currently not receiving YA or Austudy, who intends to undertake a study period overseas, which can be credited towards their approved Australian course, can commence receiving YA or Austudy overseas. (e.g. a secondary school student who transitions to university in the next study period). Students need to lodge their claim for YA or Austudy before they depart Australia. Their YA or Austudy claim can be granted while they are overseas studying, subject to them satisfying the eligibility requirements.

New students

A person, who is not currently studying and then enrols in an approved course, cannot commence receiving YA or Austudy overseas where they have not undertaken any domestic study in the period immediately prior to departing Australia (e.g. a person takes a gap year and starts their first study period of the course overseas).

Example 1: Ben is not currently receiving YA but is studying engineering full-time at university and intends to undertake an overseas study period in his next semester that will be credited towards his approved Australian course. He makes a claim for YA prior to leaving Australia. Centrelink has granted Ben a 15-week portability period for the purpose of overseas study in Beijing, China. Ben departs Australia, starts his overseas study period and commences to receive his YA payment.

Example 2: Hayley is 21 years of age and studying teaching full-time at university. She is currently not eligible to receive YA due to the parental means-testing arrangements. Hayley is granted approval by her university to undertake the next semester of her course in Germany (it will be credited towards her approved Australian course). She makes a claim for YA prior to leaving Australia (within 13 weeks of her 22nd birthday) and departs Australia one week later. Two weeks after arriving in Germany Hayley turns 22 years of age. Centrelink grants Hayley independent YA and a 15-week portability period for the purpose of overseas study in Germany starting from her 22nd birthday.

Example 3: Fergus is 18 years of age living in his family home while he studies journalism full-time at university. He is currently not eligible to receive dependent YA due to the YA living at home parental means-testing arrangements. Fergus is granted approval by his university to undertake the next semester of his course in Barbados (it will be credited towards his approved Australian course). He makes a claim for dependent YA prior to leaving Australia (within 13 weeks of starting his overseas study period) and departs Australia one week later and commences living away from home. Fergus has been assessed by Centrelink as satisfying the YA living away from home parental means-testing arrangements. Centrelink grants Fergus dependent YA and a 13-week portability period for the purpose of overseas study in Barbados.

Example 4: Susan has finished secondary school and takes a gap year. After her gap year Susan decides to commence full-time study in an approved arts performance course at an approved Australian university (she is not a continuing student). Susan decides that she wants to undertake her first study period in Washington DC, USA (which can be credited towards her Australian course). Susan makes her claim for YA and departs Australia. Susan's overseas study period commences before the first day of her university's domestic study period. Susan cannot commence receiving YA overseas as she is not undertaking full-time study prior to departing Australia (she is not a continuing student).

Student overseas travel time

The following factors may provide guidance in determining how many days of travelling time a student should be granted:

  • the reasonable time required to relocate using the most practical mode of travel available, and
  • the remoteness of the study or training location, and
  • whether the student has a disability that will substantially impact on their ability to relocate, and
  • any other relevant factors that will reasonably justify the granting of extra travel time.

Generally, a student or apprentice will not require more than 10 days total travel time in order to relocate to and from their overseas study or training location. This additional travel time may not be used to extend a holiday before or after the study period.

Act reference: SSAct section 1218(2) The person's right to continue to be paid…

Return rules affecting full-time students going overseas for study as part of their full-time Australian course

Full-time students qualified for YA, Austudy, PP, CP, WA, WP, WidB and PA who are going overseas to study as part of their full-time Australian course can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

Act reference: SSAct section 1218(3) If the person returns to Australia for a period of 6 weeks or less…

Portability extension for DSP recipients whose family member is posted overseas for work

The legislation allows for a portability extension in circumstances where the person is receiving DSP and has a family member who has been posted overseas for work. The conditions under which a portability extension can be permitted for this purpose is specified in SSAct section 1218AB, and requires that all of the following qualifying circumstances must exist:

  • The person is severely disabled.
  • The person is receiving DSP.
  • The person is wholly or substantially dependent on a family member of the person.
  • The person will be living with the family member of the person throughout the period of absence.
  • The family member of the person is engaged in employment in Australia for an employer immediately before the start of the period of absence.
  • The family member of the person will be engaged in employment outside Australia for the same employer throughout the period of absence.

A portability extension for this purpose should be for a defined period taking account of the length of the overseas posting. In most cases the extension period will not exceed 3 years. If a DSP recipient returns to Australia for a short visit during their extended portability period this return will not affect their extension period and a new decision is not required on a subsequent departure within this existing extension period.

In limited circumstances it may be possible for a person to be granted another extension at the end of their portability period. This could happen where the family member has their overseas posting extended. In these cases care should be taken to ensure that the DSP recipient continues to meet the residency qualification requirements for DSP.

The table below explains portability extension for DSP recipients whose family member is posted overseas.

Situation Description
The person is severely disabled. To determine whether a DSP recipient is severely disabled refer to 1.1.S.110 or SSAct section 23(4B).
The person is receiving DSP.

To be eligible for a portability extension under this provision a person must be receiving DSP. This provision is not available to DSP recipients whose payments have already ceased whilst outside Australia. However, if a retrospective decision is being made giving the person continuous entitlement for the period of absence from Australia then their payment can be restored and arrears paid as long as there is no break in entitlement.

Example: Sharon is on DSP and has travelled to Chile with her mother. Her mother works for the DFAT and has been posted to work at the Australian Embassy in Santiago for 1 year. Her DSP is suspended 4 weeks after she left Australia. Even though Sharon's DSP has been suspended, she qualifies for an extension because she is living with her mother who she is substantially dependent on. Sharon's DSP can be restored from the suspension date because there is no break in entitlement.

The person is wholly or substantially dependent on a family member of the person.

Wholly or substantially dependent means that the family member provides ongoing care and attention or manages the financial affairs of the DSP recipient. It will also include situations where the DSP recipient is subject to a guardianship order and is in the legal care of the family member. Ordinarily the DSP recipient would be living in Australia with the family member who they are dependent on prior to commencement of the posting outside Australia.

Example: Josh is a severely disabled DSP recipient who lives with his sister in her house in Australia. Whilst Josh is severely disabled he doesn't require 24 hour care, but he is dependent on his sister to provide his accommodation, food, and emotional support. Josh is considered to be substantially dependent on his sister.

The definition of a family member is provided in SSAct subsection 23(14) or 1.1.F.60. A family member includes the partner, parent, sibling, or a child of the relevant person. It may also include any other person who, in the opinion of the Secretary, should be treated for the purposes of this definition as a partner, parent, sibling or child of the relevant person. This may cover situations such as stepchildren or foster children.

The person will be living with the family member of the person throughout the period of absence.

A DSP recipient is living with a family member if they are part of the same household and share the same accommodation. A person can still be regarded as living together even though they may occasionally spend some time apart. For example, the DSP recipient may wish to visit friends while overseas. However, this would not break the continuity of the relationship as long as the DSP recipient ordinarily shares the same accommodation as the family member during the absence.

Example: Mel receives DSP and is in Spain with her daughter who has been posted to work there for a period of 2 years. Mel decides to travel to the UK for 2 weeks to visit a friend. As she is ordinarily living with and still substantially dependent on her daughter and only away for a short period, her payment may continue under this provision. If Mel decided to stay on in the UK with her friend for a longer period, her circumstances would need to be reviewed to assess if she is still living with and substantially dependent on her daughter.

  • The family member of the person is engaged in employment in Australia for an employer immediately before the start of the period of absence, and
  • The family member of the person will be engaged in employment outside Australia for the same employer throughout the period of absence.

This provision is intended to cover DSP recipients whose family member has been posted overseas for work. It does not include situations where a family member is going overseas to take up work for a new employer.

The key consideration is to ensure that the family member is currently employed in Australia and is taking up an appointment overseas with the same employer.

Example: Cathy works for the Australian Defence Force in Australia, so she is a federal government public servant. She takes up a position to work for DFAT in Cambodia for 18 months. Cathy would be considered to be working for the same employer.

A person is engaged in employment if they are under a contract of service to an employer and ordinarily receive employment income from remunerative work undertaken by the person. Employment income includes (but is not limited to): salary, wages, commissions, fringe benefits, bonus payments, leave payments etc. A person is not engaged in employment if they are in receipt of supported wages. Volunteers and missionaries are not regarded as being engaged in employment unless they can provide evidence that they are under a contract of service and receive monetary remuneration for their work. A person engaged in employment will need to provide acceptable evidence such as a letter from their employer to confirm their current place of employment and overseas posting. A person who takes leave without pay from their work would still be considered to be engaged in employment provided they are still employed by the same employer.

The word employer means a person who pays or is liable to pay any salary or wages to an employee. In general, this provision does not extend to a person that is self-employed or working as a private contractor unless they can provide evidence of a continuing relationship between their work in Australia and overseas.

Example: Phil is a self-employed shipwright who specialises in renovating old fishing boats and does the majority of his work for the same shipping company in Australia. This company has requested that Phil be based in Indonesia for the next 18 months to refurbish some vessels they have purchased. Although Phil is self-employed he is able to provide evidence of his ongoing contractual arrangements with this company. Although Phil is self-employed he would be considered to be working overseas for the same employer as in Australia.

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident is a person who…, section 23(4B) For the purposes of this Act, a person is severely disabled if:…, section 23(14) For the purposes of this Act…a family member…, section 1218AB Extended portability period for DSP

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.1.10 Residence requirements, 3.6.1.50 Payability of DSP

Portability under international social security agreements (1.1.A.120)

Some DSP, CP, PPS, WP and WidB recipients who go to a country with which Australia has an international social security agreement may be transferred and paid under the agreement. Some agreements allow for longer or shorter portability of these payments than the domestic legislation, for example New Zealand.

Not all agreements cover these payment types. Agreements generally have more limited categories of people covered. Check each agreement for the payments and types of persons covered.

Example: PPS and WidB are only available to people whose partner has died and sometimes only to women whose legal husband died.

A new claim does NOT need to be lodged to affect the transfer. If the transfer is approved, the new pension will be paid at a rate set by the agreement.

No new grants of WP are possible after 1 July 1995, or WidB after 20 March 1997, but transferring to the same pension category under an agreement does NOT constitute a new grant.

Example: A recipient who is in an agreement country and ceases to qualify for DSP after being absent from Australia for 4 weeks, may be eligible to transfer to an agreement DSP payment if the agreement provides for it.

Policy reference: SS Guide Part 10 Australian Social Security Agreements

Last reviewed: 20 September 2016