You’re revelling in having earned your retirement. You’ve found a great financial adviser that has structured your income and assets so that you can maximise age pension benefits. Travelling overseas regularly is on your wish list. Perhaps you’ve dreamed of renting an idyllic cottage in the South of France or Tuscany or an apartment in New York? At long last, you can realise that dream. Or can you?
Depending on how long you leave our sunny shores, your government funded payments and concession and health cards may be affected. The outcome depends on how long you intend to travel outside of Australia for, and how long you’ve been an Australian resident.
If you are not paid under an international social security agreement, keep reading.
Here is what you need to know about your age pension benefits and travelling overseas to enjoy an extended holiday.
What you need to know about travelling overseas on an age pension if:
You’re travelling overseas for less than six weeks
If you’ve been an Australian resident for more than two years and you plan to be back in less than six weeks, simply enjoy planning your holiday.
You don’t even need to let Centrelink know and you’ll continue to be paid your Age Pension.
You’re travelling overseas for more than six weeks
You’ll need to let Centrelink know. Your Age Pension rate will reduce after six weeks. The Pension Supplement will be paid at the basic rate and your Energy Supplement will stop being paid to you. You can find details of the reduced pension rates while you’re away from Australia via the link below.
You’re travelling overseas for more than 26 weeks
If you’re aspiring to rent somewhere in a village somewhere outside of Australia to pen that first novel, this one is for you.
Rates of payment are a little more complicated when you’re outside of Australia more than 26 weeks.
The pivot point is based on the number of years you have lived in Australia as an Australian resident from back when you were sweet 16 to qualifying for an age pension. If your calculation is 35 years or more, you may still be entitled to a full means tested rate of Age Pension after 26 weeks outside of Australia. Otherwise the rate reduces and is calculated proportionally.
You’ve returned to live in Australia in the last two years and want to travel overseas
If you’re being paid an Age Pension and have recently returned to live in Australia, you’ll need to talk to Centrelink. You may not be entitled to payments while you’re travelling overseas. Centrelink may rule that you have to wait out two years of receiving the Age Pension while you’re living in Australia, first.
You’re an Australian Concession Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Holder
If you’re off to live elsewhere, your cards will be cancelled when you leave Australia. When your plan is to holiday overseas for less than six weeks, your Concession Card stays intact. If you’re overseas for more than six weeks, your Concession Card will be valid for up to six weeks and then reactivated once you’re back in Australia.
After 19 weeks outside of Australia, your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card will be cancelled. You can reactivate your card once you return to Australia.
Enjoy your adventure
If you haven’t already, make sure you sign up to my.gov.au before you go travelling overseas so you can access all your Age Pension information online.
And if all this has dampened those novel writing dreams, then perhaps a cottage in Hobart would do the trick?
Other helpful resources about travelling overseas on an age pension
Australian Department of Human Services > Customer > Australians Overseas
Smart Traveller > Senior Travellers