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. Totalising to Qualify for an Australian Benefit (Agreement with the USA)

Totalising for an Australian benefit

Article 9 of the Agreement covers totalisation in order to qualify for an Australian benefit.

US quarters of coverage may be added to periods of Australian residence to meet minimum residence requirements for a benefit under the SSAct. One quarter of coverage is equivalent to 3 months of Australian residence.

People residing in the USA, or third countries with which Australia has an agreement, must have a minimum of 12 months Australian working life residence (6 months of which is continuous) before they can totalise to qualify for an Australian benefit. No minimum period of working life residence is required for people residing in Australia. However, a person residing in Australia will still require a sufficient number of quarters of cover (credits) to 'totalise' and qualify for an Australian benefit under the Agreement. For example, a person who has 20 credits will be able to totalise those credits to make up 5 years of Australian working life residence. This is not enough to qualify for an Australian benefit. Generally, a person needs to make up 10 years of Australian residence to qualify for an Australian benefit under the Agreement. This can be with a combination of US credits and actual periods of Australian residence.

Note: While people can use US quarters of coverage to help them qualify for an Australian benefit, the rate of Australian benefit outside Australia is based solely on their actual periods of working life residence in Australia - see

Act reference: SS(IntAgree)Act Schedule 13 USA

SSAct section 7(1) Australian resident definition

Policy reference: SS Guide Outside Australia Rate for Agreement Payments

Last reviewed: