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. Arrears, embargoes & exchange rates for overseas income


This topic covers the following matters:

  • arrears and embargoes
  • the 'appropriate market exchange rate', and
  • exchange rate reviews.

Arrears & embargoes

Special arrangements exist under international agreements for the processing of pension arrears from agreement countries, including the application of exchange rates.

Policy reference: SS Guide Income from overseas payments - general rules, 10.1.8 Arrears, Embargoes & Overpayments

The appropriate market exchange rate

The appropriate market exchange rate to be used to assess a recipient with overseas income, for all the paydays in a calendar month, is the CBA's on-demand airmail buying rate, current on the fifth working day before the first business day in that month.

The Secretary may determine the use of exchange rates from other sources.

SSAct section 1100 applies to any foreign currency amount received by a recipient that has to be taken into account to calculate the rate of social security payment/s (1.1.S.210) a person receives. Calculation of foreign currency amounts for the purposes of family assistance is governed by family assistance legislation.

Explanation: Automatic monthly updates of the exchange rates are used to convert to Australian dollars the overseas income and assets held on a recipient's records, including UK pounds.

Act reference: SSAct section 1100 How value of a payment received in a foreign currency is to be determined

Policy reference: FA Guide 1.1.F.02 Family assistance

Exchange rate reviews

A recipient may request a review of the exchange rate used to assess their overseas income. An exchange rate review is only conducted where the rate the recipient actually received is shown to differ by more than 5% to the rate set. The recipient must provide documentary proof (such as bank statements) of the rate received.


  • An appropriate market exchange rate of A$1.00 = US$0.72 is set under SSAct section 1100. The recipient requests a review and provides evidence to show that a rate of US$0.75 was received. Being a variation of 4%, the SSAct section 1100 rate must continue to apply and the request for an exchange rate review is declined.
  • Using the same SSAct section 1100 rate as above, if the recipient were to provide evidence that the rate actually received was US$0.78 (a variation of around 8%), a reassessment would be conducted. The rate that the recipient actually received would be used to calculate the foreign income and appropriate arrears paid.

Act reference: SSAct section 1100(4) In the case of a foreign currency or a payment in a foreign currency …

SS(Admin)Act section 144(p) a decision of the Secretary …

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