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. Registration for PBS



Registration in PBS is limited to those who qualify for Age before 20 September 2009.

If a person is registered in the scheme on 20 September 2009 and they did not qualify for Age before 20 September 2009, their membership in the scheme may still be valid if they registered prior to 29 June 2009 (date legislative change received royal assent).

To qualify for a pension bonus, a person must be registered with Centrelink as a member of the PBS. The application to register should NOT be taken to be a claim for Age.

Explanation: It is important that the registration process be differentiated from the claim process to reduce the risk of people subsequently claiming that they believed they had claimed a pension by lodging the registration form.

Act reference: SSAct section 92C Qualification for pension bonus, section 92C(c) the person is registered …, section 92M Application for registration is not to be treated as a claim

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.4.1 Age - qualification & payability, PBS work test

Who can register?

An Australian resident who has qualified for Age before 20 September 2009 can register, that is, be of age pension age and have 10 years residency. Australian residents who could use a reciprocal agreement to satisfy residency requirements may also register. However, payment of a bonus cannot be made until the person satisfies 10 years residency WITHOUT using a reciprocal agreement.

Act reference: SSAct section 43 Qualification for age pension, section 92H(8) Date of qualification for the age pension

What does registration involve?

A person does NOT have to satisfy any income or assets testing requirements at the time of registration or while deferring Age. The registration form does, however, seek information to work out:

  • the likely period of time the person is expecting to defer their pension, AND
  • whether the person
    • or their partner, are likely to meet the work test requirements
    • is qualified for Age before 20 September 2009
    • can begin accruing bonus periods (1.1.B.80), and
    • is likely to be better off by deferring their pension.

Explanation: Depending on individual circumstances, the person may be better off claiming a part pension (and receiving a PCC) immediately rather than seeking a bonus.

Power to obtain information

The power to obtain information on the PBS registration form is contained in SSAct section 92F.

Act reference: SSAct section 92F Relevant information

Qualification for pension bonus not a condition for registration

A person who will not qualify for payment of a pension bonus (for example, they have previously received Age) but qualifies for Age before 20 September 2009, can still register as a member of the scheme. It is important, however, that the person is made aware that they cannot receive a bonus so they do not unrealistically pursue their PBS claim at a later date.

Explanation: A person who has previously received Age may still wish to register as in some circumstances the person's work may meet their partner's work test requirements if both are registered.

Time limit to register - a person first qualifies for Age on or after 1 July 1998 & before 20 September 2009

Generally, a person MUST lodge a registration form with Centrelink (or DVA) within 13 weeks of first qualifying for Age, for registration to commence from the time they first qualify for Age. The period in which they must register begins 13 weeks before the date they first qualify for Age, and finishes 13 weeks after that date, giving a total lodgement period of 26 weeks.

Extension of time to register - discretion of delegate

The delegate has the discretion to extend the period a person has to lodge their registration form. If the registration occurs as a result of a late application, the registration takes effect on:

  • the date the application is lodged, OR
  • if the delegate decides, another date, based on the special circumstances of the case.

Example: A person who reached age pension age prior to 1 July 1998 may register for the scheme after that date.

Example: A person who reaches age pension age after 1 July 1998 may fail to register within 13 weeks.

Explanation: The delegate may decide to backdate the registration given the individual circumstances of the person. For example because the person:

  • was overseas
  • lives in a remote area
  • speaks little or no English
  • has a low level of literacy
  • saw the original Budget announcement (which did not indicate a requirement to register) and thought they did not have to register
  • did not see advertising of the scheme and based on their knowledge of the local advertising coverage, the delegate considers the person's claims to be reasonable
  • did not originally register when they turned age pension age because they thought they would not be eligible for a pension, or
  • thought they did not have to register because their partner was registered.

FOR THIS DISCRETION TO BE EXERCISED the person MUST meet certain conditions during the period after they reach age pension age (or after 1 July 1998 - whichever is the later) and the date they lodge the application for registration.

The person MUST meet the requirement to have qualified for Age prior to 20 September 2009.

The person MUST establish with evidence, that throughout the period they had either:

  • been a non-accruing member, or
  • as an accruing member, passed the work test for each accruing period (if more than one).

Example: Stan turns 65 on 1 February 1998. He continues to work full-time until 30 May 1999 when he has a workplace accident. He receives weekly compensation payments until 31 August 1999. He then returns to full-time work and is still working when he registers for the PBS on 1 December 1999. Stan has provided proof that he either met the work test or was a non-accruing member since he turned 65. Stan would normally be registered from 1 December 1999 unless the delegate decided there was a case for backdating.

Example: Beryl reaches age pension age on 12 November 1998. She leaves work and goes overseas for a 6-month holiday. On her return Beryl attempts to register for the PBS. Beryl cannot be registered for the scheme as during her time overseas she could not meet the work test and was not a non-accruing member of the scheme. However, if Beryl works for 960 hours in the next 6 months, then she has met the work test for the bonus year. She could then apply to have her registration in the scheme accepted and backdated.

The following table explains when the date of membership commences if the person has satisfied the work test:

If the delegate … then the date that membership takes effect is the date …
extends the lodgement period, and no special circumstances existed for the late lodgement the person lodged the registration form.
is satisfied that special circumstances existed the Secretary decides, but not before the person first qualified for membership of the scheme. Generally the person would have their registration backdated to the earliest possible date unless there is clearly a more appropriate day to choose or the person requests a later date at the time of registration.

Example: A woman is relying on her partner's work to meet the work test and she reaches age pension age before her partner. Both members of the couple could be registered in the scheme from the working partner's age pension age date (assuming both partners are able to register because they qualify for Age prior to September 2009).

Act reference: SSAct section 92H Timing of application and registration, section 92N Accruing membership, section 92P Non-accruing membership—preclusion periods

Policy reference: SS Guide Accruing membership of PBS, Non-accruing membership of PBS

Transitional arrangements for commencement of the scheme - 1 July 1998

A transitional arrangement existed for people who were already qualified for and deferring their pension when the scheme commenced on 1 July 1998. These people had until 30 September 1998 to register with Centrelink.

People who registered within the transitional period had their date of membership of the scheme deemed to be the LATER of the following:

  • their date of first qualification for Age, OR
  • the date of commencement of the scheme - that is 1 July 1998.

Registration for PBS can be rejected

A person seeking to register for the scheme can have their application rejected if they:

  • did not qualify for Age before 20 September 2009 (or did not apply within 13 weeks of turning Age Pension age), OR
  • apply to register outside the registration time limits and (if they would not have been a non-accruing member for the whole period), are unable to establish that they have passed the work test during the period between qualification for Age and their application to register, OR
  • fail to provide
    • sufficient information to determine if they are qualified for Age, OR
    • other relevant information and supporting evidence requested on the form.

The decision to reject MUST be advised in writing and is an appealable decision.

Notification provisions

A member of the scheme is not required to advise Centrelink of changes in their circumstances during the deferment period, but should be encouraged to advise Centrelink of changes of address and any other events that might affect their future entitlement such as changes in marital status.

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