Australia has 29 international social security agreements. These agreements help people who migrate between agreement countries get social security benefits listed in the agreement.
Responsibility for social security may be shared between the agreement countries where you have lived between certain ages. In some instances you may be able to receive pensions from both countries, with each agreement country paying a part pension to you (if you have lived in both countries).
Countries that have International Social Security Agreements with Australia
Australia has agreements with a number of countries to share responsibility for social security coverage.
Who the International Social Security Agreements help
The agreements help if you have lived in both Australia and an agreement country and have been covered by that other country’s social insurance scheme.
The payments you may be able to get vary between different countries and their social security agreements with Australia. All agreements cover Age Pension, but some also cover pensions such as Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment (adult), Double Orphan Pension, and Parenting Payment (single).
How the International Social Security Agreements help
The agreements may allow you to continue to get social security entitlements when you move between agreement countries. They may help by:
- allowing you to lodge a payment claim in either Australia or the agreement country, and, in some cases, a third country*
- allowing you to add together your periods of social insurance (or residence in some cases) in an agreement country and your periods of Australian residence, to meet the minimum requirements for an Australian pension or a pension from the agreement country
- overcoming any agreement country’s payment restrictions on citizenship or country of residence
*This is only possible if you reside in a country that will accept claims under other international social security agreements, and are claiming a payment under an agreement that allows you to lodge a claim in a third country.
Pension rates under the International Social Security Agreements
Everyone’s circumstances are different, but the amount you receive is affected by your income and assets. It is not possible to advise the amount you will receive until you have been individually assessed. In addition to your income and assets affecting your payment, the following rules also apply:
- Each country usually pays you a part pension
- Foreign pension rates are usually proportional to the length of your social insurance period in that country
- Australian pensions are usually paid at a proportional rate outside Australia and as a ‘top-up’ pension inside Australia - that is, any pension you receive from the country under whose agreement you are being paid will generally reduce your Australian pension dollar for dollar
- Some agreements allow special treatment of certain payments made by either country, including exemption from income testing
Claiming a foreign pension while in Australia
You can get a claim form for a foreign pension from any agreement country posted to you in Australia by calling International Services, on 131 673, or by visiting any DHS Service Centre.
You can get a claim form for a foreign pension from a non-agreement country only by contacting the social security authority in that country. You can get contact details for many countries, or help with your claim, by calling International Services, on 131 673, or by visiting any DHS Service Centre.
If you are receiving or claiming certain Australian payments, including an Australian Age Pension, you (and your partner, if applicable) must take steps to claim a pension from the country you lived in, or provide a reason for which a claim would be unsuccessful.
Claiming an Australian pension while outside Australia
You cannot claim an Australian pension unless you are residing in Australia or in an agreement country.
If you are living in an agreement country there are several ways in which you can claim an Australian pension. These include:
- visiting the relevant offices of the social security authority in the agreement country
- calling International Services on our international numbers
- downloading the international claim forms
If you are claiming certain Australian payments, including Age Pension, you (and your partner, if applicable) must take steps to claim a pension from the country you lived in, or provide a reason for which a claim would be unsuccessful.