10.1.1.10 What Agreements Are

What agreements are

Social Security Agreements are international treaties. They modify the social security systems of the countries that enter into the agreements (the Agreement Countries).

In Australia, agreements are added to the SS(IntAgree)Act as schedules. This Act specifically provides that the schedules have effect despite anything in the social security law. In this way, the special provisions of the agreements:

  • modify only the social security law, and
  • allow the provisions of agreements to be implemented.

Agreements modify social security law and, in some cases, other Acts of the Commonwealth such as the Superannuation Guarantee Acts. Each agreement specifies those Acts it does modify. Other Acts that are not specified in an agreement are not modified.

Australia's agreements are based on the principle of shared responsibility - each country pays a benefit that reflects that person's association with that country's social security system. The guidelines in this chapter generally refer to this type of agreement.

The former Agreement with the United Kingdom (which was terminated from 1 March 2001) and the 1995 Agreement with New Zealand (replaced with a shared responsibility agreement in 2002) were the older style, host country agreements. In this style of agreement the country where the person resided took full responsibility for their social security needs.

Last reviewed: 21 September 2015