Finance

Travelling overseas on the age pension: what you need to know

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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.

Department of Human Services website > Customer > Enablers > Pension rates payable outside of Australia.

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

 

 

9 Comments

  1. John Eamer

    Thank you for this article Julie. Most informative indeed!

    As far as:

    “Rates of payment are a little more complicated when you’re outside of Australia more than 26 weeks.”

    Are you aware if the 26 week period is for one continuous period? Or is it the accumulation over trips made over a 12 month ?

    I would like to travel an number of times between Australia and Thailand each year … perhaps spending 3 months there and 1 month back home in AUS each time. I am finding it difficult to get a ruling on this situation.

    I understand there may also be ramifications with Medicare as well??

    Are you able to add any further?

    Thanks again

  2. Julie Pearce

    Hello John. Thank you for your feedback and for following Go55s.com.au! As a writer, I have researched the information from various sources – mostly from the Department of Human Services. The safest way to ensure you’re getting the right information when you have specific travel plans, without risking your Age Pension payments would be to call the Age Pension number on 132 300 directly with your questions in hand. That way you can ensure you have a time and date that you called, in case any payment issues arose further down the track. Sounds like you have wonderful plans ahead. Enjoy.

  3. Hi Julie, I will reach pension age in February 2022 and hoping to spend as much time as possible with family in the Philippines afterwards, by then I will have lived in Australia for approximately 25 pension qualifying years so my pension would be reduced by two sevenths after six weeks, I am trying to work out if it would be economically viable to return to Australia after every six week period or just stay there permanently but cannot find anywhere how you are considered to still be a permanent resident i.e. would I need to keep a permanent address here in Australia during my absence, obviously paying rent while overseas would make this prohibitive, any advice you could give would be gratefully received.

  4. Julie Pearce

    Hello David. Thank you for reading the article and reaching out. As I writer, I know a little about all the topics I get to indulge writing about, but cannot claim to be an expert and am not qualified to offer you sound advice on your particular situation. You really need the advice here of an accountant or financial adviser that is experienced in the ins and outs of the Aged Pension. I recommend some expert counsel. Good luck. It sounds like you have wonderful plans ahead! Enjoy.

  5. Peter Hobbs

    Hi Julie. Thanks for the very concise and uncomplicated review. In it you state “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”. I will be overseas for more than 6 weeks and have notified Centrelink of my travel plans. Do I actually have to take any action to reactivate my Concession Card or will this happen automatically?
    Thanks in anticipation of your reply.

  6. Julie Pearce

    Hello Peter. Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback, and reach out with a questions. My understanding from what information is available online is that if you’ve advised Centrelink of the date you’re planning to return, your concession card will be automatically reactivated. Enjoy your travel!

  7. Hi,
    Im confused with the time allowed overseas
    we are a couple on age pension
    my wife only is going overseas fo 5 weeks
    does this mean we are only allowed 1 more of overseas travel
    or is it 6 weeks per person allowed
    also is it per calendar year or finacial ?
    Thanks AL.

  8. John Labaj

    I have a simple question. Does Centrelink monitors overseas travel by pensioners?

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