Applying for the pension whilst overseas

Boy oh boy, where do you start and will it ever finish?

I am approaching next month the highlight of my life ... retirement. The end of a journey of working 35 years in the lucky country (Australia). I live overseas with my wife and family, so as I do some research I find that I am entitled to the pension. The hiccup is I need to return to Perth to apply (no problem) apart from airfares and two week prison time (virus), then they want me to remain in Australia for two years before it becomes portable.

I know a lot of you are going to say the money is for Australia in Australia. I am not asking for anything that we pensioners are not entitled to am I? Even if they pay half for the first two years. I can't afford to live in Australia if the pension pays for it. I have been thinking maybe I find a crime that has two years to it. Do it and get lodgings and three meals a day and a gym ... sorry about the rant. I am pissed with the system and I'm now going to the beach shack with my caring wife to have a beer.


I sympathise with your predicament, Scottie Scott. If you are entitled to an age pension then there should be a system in place to cover your circumstances. There would be records of your employment, a tax file number and you should be allowed to apply from wherever you are. The money is for people who have contributed to our tax system and if you can prove your case then you should not have the imposition of airfares and rental for 2 years.

Its a stupid rule, if you are entitled to a pension then it not should not matter where you live and after 2 years you can take it overseas anyway, so what is the point of making you stay here for the first 2 years, probably just bloody minded by governments hoping that it will be too hard for some to comply and ends up saving the government money.

Why not just live in Australia? Why leave?

Because he has a wife & family overseas which means he most likely will be seperated from them for at least 2 years. The Australian government make it difficult not just to get an entitled pension but also to retain it or make it portable if you live overseas

He has the right to live anywhere he wants & the Australian government should not punish people because they want to live outside of Australia. Australia doesn't punish people from other countries who are living in Australia & receiving pensions from outside of Australia.

If he is happy livng overseas why uproot to move back just to get what he is entitled to?  This may surprise you but Australia is not necessarily the best country in the world to live in for some people.

What surprises me is that a permanent resident, not being an Australian citizen, can get a Centrlink pension.

I went through exactly the process you have described Scottie, also in Perth. The Centrelink International people based in Tassie are very helpful and know exactly the rules. Their No: +61 36222 3455.  Your summary of the conditions are correct. The 2 year rule is the rule, just have to accept, complaining changes nothing. One can travel outside Aus during the 2 year period, but forget the general CLink office and talk with the International section. The pension in Aus is higher than when live abroad as supplements dont apply, but at around $1,000 per fortnight is livable as long as live a frugal lifestyle

I agree with Chris

Scottie you need to talk with people that are experienced in your situation and contact the aspect of Centrelink that deals with the international problems as Chris suggests.

Read above.

The 'unfairness ' is I do not get it (pension or part there of),, because I fund my own retirement . I worked hard, saved money, and now I'm paying for being diligence in my financial self provision.

So cry me a pebble please. 

Agree 100% with Graeme

Well how smugly lucky that you have been in a position in life to be able to be self funded.  There are many hard working, saving, people who have still not been able to reach this status and if it was that easy no one would need a pension except for those incapable of working or life long bludgers.

'smugly lucky' ??? More like selfinitiated dedication of providing for yourself. No 'luck", just application and hard work.

 'easy, no one would need a pension except for those incapable of working or life long bludgers'.   That's accurate except for the provision that genuinely disadvantaged people do deserve the assistance. 

Australia has produced a backward mentality. ie better off blowing your money so the taxpayer can pay your bill. I'm still a taxpayer at 80 years of age . ie again, paying for those who do not give a rats.



My advice to Scottie Scott is..go and have another beer...and stay where you are!!

There is nothing much thats fair about our pension system so get used to it.

Yours is just one of a great many unfair conditions attached to being a pensioner.

It was not always as difficult as it is now.

Both Labor and Liberal federal governments have gradually made qualifying more difficult.

I agree with Tanker, why not live in Australia. Australians live permanent in Australia, that's why your an Australian Citizen. If you choose to live in another country, you should be a citizen of that country and not Australia. I've never agreed that the pension being paid to people outside of Australian residency. It's a kin to having a discount card at Woolworths and wanting to use it to shop at Coles. Sorry, that's just the way I see it. Jacka.

Australia has many citizens & resident non born Australians here who are recieving pensions & part pensions from overseas. So what is the difference to them & an Australian citizen living overseas on an Australian pension or part pension.

Not all countries allow you to become permanent residiets or citizens in their country. Many people have duel citizenship. Many people live & retire overseas for a multitude of reasons. A friend of mine was an Australian pensioner & went back to Greece to look after & become a carer for his aging parents for over 10 years, are you going to deny her of her pension as well.

Many people don't want to give up their Australian citizenship.

Scottie, I don't know where you live but maybe contact or join a forum like FB for expats in your area. There might be a few Aussies that have gone through the same issues. Some of the advice here is good especially talking to the international part of centrelink.

Unfortunately the government punish peneioners in all areas not just those that live overseas

Yep, it is a bizzarre unworkable cumbersome system.

We recently returned to Aus from four years in France, while there hubby could get his part pension as he applied for, and received, it before we left. But you try dealing with them from overseas. Sydney Clink has an overseas number to call but it is only open Sydney office hours, middle of the night in Europe!

While there I had many English friends, they get a standard pension very easily and everyone gets it, wherever they are, so those who moved to France to live (far cheaper than UK or Australia) and still have their UK house, rented out, were doing really well. They see it far more as an entitlement for many years of working in UK. No means testing, and the system is simple and efficient. 

As for us, we have worked (in Aus) and saved for retirement and have some income from a rented building which we live on. All our income is taken into account in calculating the small amount of pension hubby gets. 

Australians are travellers, and I think it is healthy and positive to live in other countries. Of course if you have worked all your life in Aus, you will not quallify for a pension at all in another country. Most countries these days are far cheaper than Australia to live, and wouldnt you think that the system paying an Aussie their pension and having them not live in Aus would be of benefit to the system - Aus then doesnt have to look after them! We keep being told we are a drain on the system!

We returned to Aus earlier than planned for several reasons, family ties back here, fed up with cold winters, Brexit (we were there on our UK passports and to change to Australian ones also meant coming back here for to reapply to go back to our French home!) but also that I am not eligible for pension for a few years and I need to get back here to stand any chance of getting one. That may of course not happen anyway as we have that income. 

I am sorry Scottie, I think they have you over a barrel. I agree that it is stupid and unfair but it is bigger than all of us to make any change to the juggernaut of a system.  

Actually you are NOT 'entitled' to anything except the right to apply for an age pension. And to apply, there are rules that need to be followed. If you cannot meet the criteria you won't be granted the pension.

Just a thought. The pension is designed at a level to allow a certain standard of living in Australia, what if it were adjusted to the overseas country? (but then while that sounds attractive to government when people are living in cheaper countries, not so much if recipients went to higher basic costs than here....
Re. 'we paid for it', perhaps it could be recalled that our pensions are paid for by current workers and other taxation revenues... Spending the money in Australia means that it helps thelocal economy - going overseas means that the local ecomony is denied that spend. Our taxes paid for the previous generation's age pensions... Problme now is that there are fewer wage earners (and PAYE taxpayers) than there one was. Hence the need to have the compulsory superannuation guarantee levee. Covid has put a hole in the future pensions of some Aussies who have had to use some for costs now... (others have dipped into their savings to an unjustified extent too apparently).
Where once one could spend a good part of a year visiting family overseas etc, nowadays the period where an age pension would be payable has been cut back severely I understand.
Currently, visiting family overseas is generally inadvisable.... so the question for the moment is perhaps moot...


Many retirees in Australia receive an overseaes pension or part pension. They are spending their overseas income within the Australian economy. When you holiday or live part time or full time overseas you spend in that economy. Bit of a balancing act. Even if you spend while in Australia it doesn't mean that money is helping the local or Australian economy especially if you buy online from overseas or buy from a retailer down the road that may be overseas owned & profits go back overseas and possibly not paying tax. To many valid arguments against stripping Australians of their pension that chose for a multitude of reasons their reasons not to live in Australia.

The government has no right to tell you how when or where you can spend your money even though they are trying that now with this special card they are trailing in some areas.

Let's not let governments have total control over our lives

You are quite right Karl

Further some countries have reciprical rights with our pension.



Hope you keep posting on our forum :)


To make a comment, please register or login

Preview your comment