Age Pension as an Australian Resident

Age Pension as an Australian Resident

by Christine Hopper

Claiming an Age Pension as an Australian resident

The Australian Social Security laws provide Age Pensions for Australian residents.
To be eligible for an Age Pension from Centrelink you must be an Australian resident and actually be in Australia on the day that you lodge your claim.

To qualify for an Age Pension as an Australian resident you need to ‘prove’ that you have lived in Australia long term.

The residence requirement for the Age Pension requires that you have been an Australian resident for a continuous period of at least ten years. You can satisfy the ten year residence requirement if you have lived here for ten years in total and had at least one period of at least five years of continuous residence.
Special conditions apply for refugees and former refugees who have not been Australian residents for the full ten years. Residence in another country that has an International social security agreement with Australia could count towards your ten year residency requirement.

To qualify for an Age Pension as an Australian resident you need to ‘prove’ that you intend to live in Australia long term.

Age Pension applicants must be physically in Australia on the day that their Age Pension forms are lodged. In addition, Age Pensioners are expected to not only be here but to make Australia their ‘home’ as long term Australian residents. Real intentions to be ‘at home’ in Australia are evidenced by living in a house that you own and having close links with relatives who are settled here.

Australian residents can claim an Age Pension on returning to Australia after a period working overseas provided that they had lived here for ten years before going overseas.

Why the restriction of Age Pensions to Australian residents only?

Centrelink administers the Social Security laws for the Commonwealth of Australia. Australian Social Security is about providing an ongoing basic level of income for people living in Australian who cannot provide for themselves on account of their age or physical or mental incapacity. Social security benefits are also provided to younger people who cannot obtain paid work.

Special rules apply to Australians who are also entitled to Age Pensions in other countries. You cannot get a full Australian Age Pension and a substantial retirement pension under another country’s social security system.

People who are living overseas could be expected to access their local social security system. But Australia does provide Age Pension support to some people living permanently outside of Australia under its International Agreements re social security.
If you live permanently in a country that has an International social security agreement with Australia then you might be eligible for a retirement income provided jointly by your host country and Australia. Centrelink International Services might assist you with your application.

Read more about the wonders of the Australian Age Pension for people who have lived and worked elsewhere an International social security agreement with Australia

Read about Age Pension as an Australian resident at Centrelink

Examples of an Age Pension as an Australian resident

Returning home –
Short term absence after long term as an Australian resident

Bob took early retirement at age 60 after being a school teacher in Melbourne for 40 years. Too young to just ‘retire’, Bob volunteered as an English teacher in Asia for six years. Bob leased out his home to a nephew whilst he was overseas. Now back in his own home in Melbourne, Bob is applying for an Age Pension as an Australian resident.

Returning to Australia –
Long term absence earning a retirement pension overseas

Sue was born and educated in South Australia. Then as a young fully trained nurse, Sue set off to see the world. Sue worked in the Scotland for long enough to accrue an entitlement to a United Kingdom retirement pension. Now widowed and alone, Sue is planning to return to Adelaide to live near her siblings and extended family.
To be eligible for an Age Pension as an Australian resident, Sue needs to show Centrelink that she is back in Australia permanently. Evidence that she has sold her former home in Scotland and purchased a home in Adelaide within walking distance of her sister’s home, helps Centrelink accept that she is here to stay for the long term.

Sue must disclose to Centrelink the detail of her ongoing United Kingdom retirement pension. Any social security type payments from her United Kingdom retirement pension could be offset against her Age Pension amount. Her other income from the United Kingdom would be counted as Income for the Age Pension Income test.

Migrated to Australia long ago –
accrued retirement benefits pre-emigration

Mario left Italy many years ago in search of new opportunities. He had worked in Italy for several years and accrued a small retirement pension entitlement before he emigrated. Mario can prove that he has been an Australian resident for ten years and that he lives permanently in Australia. Mario is annoyed that whilst he became an Australian citizen in 1980, Centrelink are interested in his Italian retirement pension entitlement.

Therefore, Mario needs to collect his Italian retirement pension so that it could be counted for the Age Pension assessment. Finally, Mario takes his old Italian passport to Centrelink and gets help from Centrelink International Services, to apply for his Italian retirement pension. Centrelink record the Italian pension and progress Mario’s application for an Age Pension as an Australian resident.

Recent arrival from an International Agreement country
Rose immigrated to Australia to be near her children who had settled in Sydney. Rose was already sixty years old when she came to Australia. Rose found work as a personal care attendant in nursing home where she enjoyed caring for elderly folk. Alas, Rose had to retire at age sixty-five after wearing out her knee joint. Rose did not satisfy the ten year residency rule for an Age Pension; she had only been an Australian resident for five years.

Rose was able to show Centrelink her British passport and her old United Kingdom income tax records. Centrelink accepted that Rose satisfied the residency requirement because she had lived long enough in another country that had an International social security agreement with Australia. Rose needed to apply for her United Kingdom retirement pension as part of her application to Centrelink for an Age Pension as an Australian resident.

Australian citizen just visiting Australia to claim an Age Pension
Robin is upset that his application for an Age Pension was refused because he did not meet the residency requirement. Robin had always carried an Australian passport as he travelled the world but rarely did he visit Australia. In fact Robin never settled anywhere for more than a year at a time. So when he came to Sydney to claim an Age Pension, he could not prove to Centrelink that he was intending to settle down and stay here long term.

Hint: Before you plan for life on the Age Pension as an Australian resident read more about the residency requirements and the International Agreement conditions.

Financial Care Services offers Short Consultations to help you see if you could get some Age Pension and to estimate how much Pension you could expect to receive.

If you think that you might be eligible for a part Age Pension you can call Christine on
03 9808 0338 to arrange a Short Consultation, 45 minutes in person or by telephone and/or email to discuss your position.  When you call please mention that you need a Short Consultation only.


To make an appointment for confidential, independent and professional advice about retirement planning, Centrelink, lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper (03) 9808 0338.

These Insights are a general over view based on our understanding of the Centrelink and DVA Pension arrangements. Individual entitlements to Centrelink and DVA benefits are determined based on your actual situation as documented to Centrelink or DVA.

The information contained in this website is of a general nature only and does not constitute “financial advice”. You should obtain your own personal financial advice before investing any money or moving in to any retirement village, lifestyle community or aged care facility. Financial Care Services is licensed to provide financial advice to individual clients based on their personal situations.
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To make an appointment for professional advice, call Financial Care Services
(03) 9808 0338