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. Minimum Periods Required to Totalise under an Agreement

Minimum periods

Some Australian pensions require a minimum continuous period as an Australian resident to qualify for payment under social security law.

Example: To qualify for Australian age pension a person must have resided in Australia for 10 years (5 years of which must be continuous).

The periods used to qualify for payment in an agreement country are generally periods of contributions. These periods generally only accrue when a person is employed. Agreements generally allow broken and separate periods of contributions to be lumped together and regarded as continuous so that the continuity requirements are met.

Agreements generally allow a continuous period to be satisfied in 4 ways:

  • a continuous period as an Australian resident, or
  • a continuous period of contributions in the agreement country, or
  • adjoining periods as an Australian resident and periods of contributions in the agreement country, or
  • 2 or more separate periods of contributions in the agreement country which can be added together and considered to be continuous.

Before claimants can qualify for Australian payments by totalising periods of residence in Australia and periods of contributions in the agreement country, they usually need to meet certain minimum periods of Australian working life residence. These minimum periods are specified in each agreement in the totalisation Article. These periods vary depending on whether the person is residing in Australia or the agreement country.

People claiming from outside Australia generally need at least 12 months of AWLR (6 months of which must be continuous) before they can use the totalisation provisions in an agreement.

People claiming from inside Australia generally do not need any AWLR to use the totalisation provisions of an agreement.

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