Q I am 66 years of Age and in receipt of the Age Pension. I migrated to Australia in 1985. My wife and I plan to travel overseas for a year. Will this affect my Age Pension entitlements in Australia?
A From 1 July 2014 the rules relating to the payment of the Age Pension for those traveling or living outside of Australia for an extended period of time changed. The changes apply to all Pension recipients travelling or residing outside Australia for more than 26 weeks.
To continue to receive 100% of your eligible rate of Age Pension, you must have spent 35 years of your working life in Australia. As you migrated to Australia in 1985 and assuming you turned 65 in 2013, you would not satisfy this requirement as you would have would have been in Australia for 28 years of your working life.
As a consequence, your Age Pension entitlements will be pro-rated whilst you reside and travel overseas. In your case you would receive 28/35ths or 80% of your maximum income and asset tested rate. In other words, your benefits will reduce by 20% whilst you are travelling. When you return to Australia and continue to reside here for 26 weeks or more, your benefits will revert to 100%.
If you had been overseas for an extended period of time prior to 1 July 2014 you would have qualified under the previous requirement of 25 years working life and consequently continued to receive 100% of your entitlements.
All Age Pension recipients are obliged to inform Centrelink if they intend to leave Australia for 6 weeks or more.
For further information go to www.humanservices.gov.au/paymentoverseas or contact 132 300.