The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Principles of Totalisation


Totalisation is the process by which periods of residence or contributions in one country are added to periods of residence or contributions in the other country to meet the minimum requirements to qualify for payments.

Example: A claimant for Australian age pension who has 7 years as an Australian resident (including 5 years continuously) and 4 years of contributions to the Italian social security system, can totalise those periods to meet Australia's minimum 10 year residence requirement.

Agreements contain Article/s that allow one country to treat periods of residence or contributions in the other country as if they were periods in the first country.

Example: Australia treats periods of contributions in Spain as if they were periods as an Australian resident. These converted periods are then added to actual periods as an Australian resident so that the person may satisfy the residence requirements for Australian payments covered by the agreement.

Note: It is important to note that only periods that could be used to qualify that person for the equivalent payment in that country can be used to meet the minimum requirements of the other country.

Example: In Italy a person must contribute to the Italian scheme to qualify for a payment; in Australia a person must have a period of residence to qualify for a payment. Therefore, only periods of contributions in Italy (and not residence) can be added to a period/s of residence in Australia (and not periods of employment) to meet the respective minimum requirements.

Under some agreements a woman can use her partner's periods of contributions to qualify for an Australian pension. This is explained in the relevant chapters.

There is no need to totalise for Australian payments when the person already meets the minimum residence requirements.

Example: A person who has lived in Australia for 12 years will not need to totalise contribution periods from another agreement country to meet the minimum 10 year residency qualification for an Australian age pension.

However, if they are residing in an agreement country, they will still need the agreement to claim Australian age pension because under Australian domestic law only people residing in Australia can lodge a claim for payment.

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