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 social security payments. 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.

6.2.1 Proof of life certificate (Age, DSP, WidB, WP, CP)


Recipients of Age, DSP, WidB, WP or CP who are 80 years and older and who have been out of Australia for at least 2 years must complete a proof of life certificate every 2 years to continue to receive their payment overseas.

DHS will issue a notice to recipients every 2 years requiring them to complete and return a proof of life certificate within 13 weeks.

The approved proof of life certificate form requires the recipient (or another person on their behalf) to confirm that the recipient is alive.

The certificate must be verified by an authorised certifier who must confirm they:

  • have sighted the person in their physical presence, and
  • have verified the identity of the person, and
  • are satisfied that the person is alive.

The certificate must be signed and dated by the recipient (or another person on their behalf) and the authorised certifier within a 7-day period. The certificate should only be completed and signed by another person on the recipient's behalf, if the recipient is unable to sign the certificate and evidence is provided to DHS.

Note: Seeing the person through video conferencing will not comply with the requirement to sight them in their physical presence.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 63A Proof of life certificate

Classes of person who are an authorised certifier

Proof of life certificates must be certified by an authorised certifier as specified in the Social Security (Administration) (Authorised Certifier) Determination 2019.

The following classes of person are specified as authorised certifiers.

Persons recognised under Australian law:

  • a person who

    • is admitted to the legal profession, and
    • holds a certificate to practise as a legal practitioner
  • a Registrar or Deputy Registrar
  • a judge, magistrate or justice, or
  • a person with same status as a judge, magistrate or justice
  • a justice of the peace
  • a notary public
  • a police officer
  • an Australian Consular Officer, or Australian Diplomatic Officer
  • a person who is
    • in a place outside of Australia, and
    • authorised to perform consular acts at that place
  • a person who is a medical practitioner.

Persons recognised in social security recipient's place of residence:

  • a person who, under the law of or applying at that place, is currently authorised or entitled to practise in that place as:

    • a legal practitioner (however described), or
    • a notary public (however described), or
    • a medical practitioner (however described), or
    • a police officer (however described)
  • a judge, magistrate or justice
  • a registrar or deputy registrar.

Suspension & cancellation rules

Where the person does not return a certified proof of life certificate to DHS, or the person does not enter Australia, within 13 weeks from the date of notice, the payment will not be payable.

Payment will be suspended for a period of up to 13 weeks. If after the 13 week suspension period (26 weeks total from the date of notice) the person has not returned a certified proof of life certificate, or entered Australia, payment will be cancelled.

The payment will remain cancelled unless a certified proof of life certificate is provided to DHS.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 63(2AB) The secretary may notify …, section 64 Effect of failing to comply with requirement …, section 80 Cancellation or suspension determination

Resumption of payment after suspension or cancellation

If the person provides a certified proof of life certificate after suspension or cancellation of their payment (or the person returns to Australia) DHS can undertake a review under SS(Admin)Act section 126 and determine that the payment is payable, as if the payment had never been suspended or cancelled (SS(Admin)Act section 85AA).

This favourable determination will allow a person to be reinstated payment with back pay for any arrears, where eligible.

The date of effect rules (SS(Admin)Act section 109) apply to the resumption provisions. These determine the date of effect, and where arrears can be paid after a payment has been reinstated.

Note: Any existing grandfathering arrangements which applied to that payment prior to suspension or cancellation will also be reinstated.

Note: A proof of life certificate is valid if returned to DHS within 12 months of being signed and certified. A proof of life certificate that was certified more than 12 months ago will not be accepted as valid proof of life. A new certificate must be issued to the person and the person must provide a certificate back to DHS within 12 months of being signed for the review provisions to be valid.

Example 1: Brian is 83 years old, has been living in New Zealand for the past 7 years, and continues to receive the Australian age pension. On 1 February 2020, DHS issues Brian with a proof of life certificate request in the mail, but he forgets to return the certificate and his payments are suspended 13 weeks later on 2 May 2020. Brian returns to Australia to visit his children on 1 July 2020 (within 26 weeks of the request being issued). As a result, Brian is no longer required to complete a proof of life certificate. Brian's payment may be restored and he can receive arrears dating back to when his payments were suspended on 2 May 2020.

Example 2: Nikolaos is an 81 year old who has been living in the Greece since returning there 15 years ago. He is currently receiving an Australian age pension. On 1 March 2020, DHS issues Nikolaos a proof of life certificate, but he fails to complete it, and his payments are suspended 13 weeks later on 31 May 2020. An additional 13 weeks pass by and his age pension payment is cancelled. Nikolaos notices his payments have stopped and shortly after makes an appointment with the Australian embassy in Athens. An Australian official verifies Nikolaos's proof of life certificate and Nikolaos returns the certificate to DHS. Nikolaos's completed form is returned within 13 weeks after his payments were cancelled. Nikolaos's pension is restored and he is entitled to arrears from the date of suspension - 31 May 2020.

Example 3: Concetta is 94 years old and has been living in Florence, Italy. She returned to her home country 25 years ago and continues to receive DSP. In January 2020, DHS issues Concetta with a proof of life request but she fails to complete the certificate. Her payments are suspended (13 weeks later) and then cancelled (13 weeks after suspension). Over 39 weeks after the date of Concetta's proof of life request was issued, she calls DHS to understand why she is no longer receiving DSP. Concetta is advised of the process and she submits the verified proof of life certificate soon after. Concetta's DSP is restored; however, as Concetta provided her completed certificate over 39 weeks after the request was issued by DHS, she is only entitled to arrears from the date she returned the completed proof of life certificate to DHS.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 85AA Resumption of payment after cancellation or suspension …, section 126 Review of decisions by Secretary, section 109A Date of effect of determination under section 78 resulting from review required by section 126A

Policy reference: SS Guide 8.6.3 Date of effect of favourable determinations (not involving working credit or student income bank)

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