7.1.4 Requirements for Former Residents of Australia Receiving a Portable Pension

Summary - for Age, DSP, WP, WidB, BVA

A person arriving in or returning to Australia (1.1.A.320) must satisfy the Act's definition of Australian resident in order to lodge a proper claim for a pension. A former resident who returns to Australia and is granted a pension (Age, DSP, WP, WidB, BVA), or who transferred under SS(Admin)Act section 12 to Age CANNOT take that pension outside Australia if they leave again within 24 months after having again become an Australian resident. The purpose of this legislation is to discourage people from coming to Australia just to get an Australian pension to take back overseas.

Exception: The 24 month former resident waiting period does not apply if the person is eligible for financial assistance under the Medical Treatment Overseas Program in respect of their absence from Australia or needs to accompany such a person.

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident…, section 43(1) Qualification for age pension, section 1220 No portability where claim based on short residence, section 1218D Extension of person's portability period - life - saving medical treatment overseas

SS(Admin)Act section 12 Deemed claim in certain cases

Family Assistance, Social Security And Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (2005 Budget And Other Measures) Bill 2006 - Explanatory Memorandum

Former residents & residents of external territories (1.1.E.230)

When someone, who was formerly an Australian resident, returns to Australia and again becomes an Australian resident and subsequently is granted a pension under the SSAct section 43(1), or transferred to Age under the SS(Admin)Act section 12, on or after 20 September 2000, that pension is not payable outside Australia if the recipient leaves Australia within 2 years of again becoming an Australian resident.

Exception: Former residents who were granted their pensions before 20 September 2000 are subject to the old rules of 12 months restriction on portability (unless there are unforeseen circumstances).

The same rule applies to someone who has residence in an external territory, comes to Australia for the first time and is granted a pension within 2 years of taking up residence in Australia.

When counting the 2 year period, include as separate full days, the day on which the recipient returns to Australia to resume Australian residence and the day on which they leave again. There is no discretionary power to allow portability during the 2 year period.

Act reference: SSAct section 43(1) Qualification for age pension

SS(Admin)Act section 12 Deemed claim in certain cases

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.1 Residence Requirements

International social security agreements

If a pension is granted under an international social security agreement or a recipient is transferred from one agreement pension type to another, that pension is subject to the portability rules of the agreement.

From 1 January 2014, people who reside outside Australia being paid under an agreement, who return to Australia for residence and are transferred back to autonomous are to be assessed as a 'former resident'. If they leave Australia again within 2 years (of resuming Australian residence) they will be considered former residents and autonomous entitlement stops on departure (they can be transferred back to an agreement if they're returning to an agreement country).

If a former resident is going to an agreement country and about to have their autonomous pension (1.1.A.360) cancelled because of the operation of SSAct section 1220, they must be informed if there is a possibility of grant or transfer to a similar payment under the agreement.

Act reference: SSAct section 1220 No portability where claim based on short residence

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.1 Residence Requirements

Answering enquiries from former residents

If people overseas ask about getting a pension on return to Australia, great care should be taken to give them complete and accurate information about the residence provisions and their subsequent portability entitlements. A claim for pension can be lodged by a former resident ONLY IF, on the evidence available, there is a clear intention to remain permanently in Australia. A person who intends to return to Australia for a 24 month period only would not be an 'Australian resident' as per SSAct subsection 7(2).

It is important to inform a recipient that there is NO discretionary power allowing portability of pensions during the first 24 months of resumed Australian residency. However, payment may be suspended for the period of the short overseas absence and does not have to be reclaimed on return to Australia. A short absence from Australia (as long as the person is still classed as an Australian resident) should not impact on the end date of this 24 month residence period (i.e. the absence still counts towards the person's 24 month residence period).

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident…, section 1220(1) to (2) No portability where claim based on short residence

Last reviewed: 14 August 2017