Understanding permanent residency rules to receive an Australian Age Pension—Part 1

Smiling senior couple with arms around standing outside house in yard

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The Australian Social Security system ensures that citizens have the financial resources for at least a frugal, minimal standard of living when they can’t earn an income from work.

And there’s a willingness to support Australians too old to work or who have reached Age Pension age and who may have no other income—or limited income. However, the Australian taxpayer is wary of paying Age Pensions to people who haven’t really been part of the Australian community.

This is why there are Australian permanent residency requirements to receive the Age Pension. There’s a three-part test to qualify.

  1. The Age Pension claimant must be entitled to live permanently in Australia.
  2. The Age Pension claimant must be a long-term, permanent Australian resident.
  3. The Age Pension claimant must currently be living permanently in Australia.

Having said that, the residency rules allow for some exemptions in special cases.

Entitled to live in Australia permanently

You must satisfy Centrelink that you’re entitled to live permanently in Australia. You must hold Australian citizenship or have entered Australia on a visa that allows you to stay indefinitely as a permanent resident.

The easiest way to satisfy Centrelink that you’re an Australian national is to show your current Australian Passport.

If you don’t have a passport, a full Birth Certificate showing that you were born in Australia could be acceptable, but you might need evidence that your parents were permanent residents when you were born.

If you were born overseas and became an Australian citizen as an adult, you could show your Australian Naturalization or Citizenship Certificate.

Permanent residents who haven’t acquired Australian nationality have additional challenges to prove their entitlement to permanent residency in Australia.

Minimum permanent residency period to qualify for Social Security Pensions

The next part of the permanent residency check is proof that you have actually lived as a permanent resident in Australia for 10 years. You must have a permanent residency period of at least five full years in one block. Your other five years could be split across periods of living in Australia.

A full Birth Certificate showing that you were born in Australia is a good start—if you were.

One way to prove that you were in Australia is to show such things as your educational certificates and employment history as evidence. Income Tax Assessment notices are also good records—demonstrating that you were paying tax as an Australian resident.

If you have recently arrived in Australia then you must live here for the full 10 years after obtaining your permanent residency status before you can apply for an Australian Social Security Pension. Keep in mind, though, that any period between your entry to Australia on a valid visa, and being granted permanent residency doesn’t count towards your 10-year waiting period.

Exemptions from the residency requirements are possible for special cases 

For instance, people who come to Australia under refugee resettlement programs are allowed some exemptions from permanent residency requirements.

Christine Hopper is the Director of Financial Care Services, an independent financial advisor.

Financial Care Services is focused on mature people considering a change of lifestyle including retirement and particularly new living arrangements in: retirement lifestyle community villages; granny flats; supported or assisted living; and Commonwealth regulated aged care. She can be contacted through https://financialcareservices.com.au.

Christine talks to Centrelink as a customer receiving a Carers Allowance and on behalf of clients. She understands the range of Department of Veteran Affairs and Centrelink income support benefits, their relevant means tests and eligibility conditions. She’s an actuary who also holds a Bachelor of Science, a Diploma of Financial Planning and a Certificate of Theology.


Category: Finances

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