General provisions - changing payment types when a recipient is outside Australia

General provisions

Generally a person needs to be in Australia to lodge a claim (i.e. satisfy SS(Admin)Act section 29). SS(Admin)Act section 12, however, allows transfers from one payment to another, without the requirement that a new claim be lodged, provided that it is a decision that could be made without a new claim (e.g. based on a person's age). This means a pensioner can be transferred while outside Australia as long as Centrelink already holds the relevant information, because, not needing to lodge a claim they do not need to be 'a person who is in Australia' (i.e. satisfy SS(Admin)Act section 29). All other qualification criteria still need to be satisfied.

Example 1: An NSA recipient left Australia 6 weeks ago and has now turned age pension age. They must be transferred to Age because they have lost qualification for the initial payment. They do not need to lodge a claim because Centrelink records already show their age and other requirements.

Example 2: A WP recipient who is outside Australia and whose partner has died cannot transfer to DSP because Centrelink would not have the required current medical and work ability information without a claim form.

Note: A person cannot transfer to WP or WidB under these provisions - these are closed types of payment.

The payment to which the recipient has been transferred must still be payable under the portability provisions for that payment. For example a WP recipient with children under 16, whose husband dies after they have been outside Australia for 20 weeks cannot transfer to PPS because this is only payable outside Australia for up to 6 weeks.

Note: Different rules may apply for recipients in countries with which Australia has a social security agreement. This is because they are able to lodge claims in those countries, provided the agreement covers that payment type and category of person.

In some circumstances it might not be appropriate to grant an 'entitled' (1.1.E.120) WidB recipient age pension overseas because proportionality does not apply to some entitled WidB recipients. This might also apply to a transfer to Age where the person had already notified of an intended departure. If the payment has been transferred to Age automatically the recipient should be asked whether they wish to have this transfer overturned.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 12 Deemed claim in certain cases, section 29 General rule

Policy reference: SS Guide 8.2.1 Transfers

Transfer where not in the recipient's best interest

A recipient should NOT be disadvantaged by a transfer. For example a DSP (saved 1 July 2004, or terminally ill) or entitled WidB recipient may be payable long term outside Australia and may be exempt from the proportional rate, but would be proportionalised after 26 weeks absence from Australia were they in receipt of Age. However, if the recipient's AWLR is 420 months or more they can be transferred to Age as their rate would not change.

Note: If a recipient is in receipt of a DVA payment, the rate and duration of the DSS payment should be checked carefully and the recipient should be given the opportunity to compare coverage between DSS and DVA before choosing their future entitlement.

Explanation: Under current DVA legislation, payment cannot be regranted once it has been cancelled.

Transfer from one pension type (paid under an agreement) to another pension

Recipients receiving a pension under an agreement may be granted another pension type while outside Australia if the agreement has provisions for claim lodgement and covers the pension type to which the pensioner wants to transfer. In these circumstances the new pension granted will also be an agreement pension and will still be subject to the rating and portability provisions of the agreement. It is possible to transfer WidB or wife pensioners to WidB or WP under the agreement because such a transfer does not constitute a change of payment type; see Part 10 for more information on international social security agreements.

Transfer to same pension type under an agreement

In some cases it may be appropriate to transfer a recipient to an agreement payment. If a recipient goes to a country with which Australia has an international social security agreement, they may be transferred and paid under the agreement if the agreement covers that payment and they satisfy any other special conditions (e.g. partner deceased for PPS).

They will then receive a rate calculated under that agreement (e.g. proportional rate). This means the transfer should not generally be done until the recipient has received their full normal entitlement, usually 6 weeks, during their period of absence, as this will be at the non-proportional rate.

They will also be treated under agreement rules if they then go to another country. If they return to Australia and are still (or again become) an Australian resident, and there is a clear intention to remain permanently in Australia, they can be transferred back to autonomous (non-agreement) payment.

Last reviewed: 12 August 2019