Disability Support Pension while travelling outside Australia

To get your payment while outside Australia you must continue to meet the qualification rules for Disability Support Pension.

There are rules that affect whether your Disability Support Pension (DSP) can be paid while you travel outside Australia and at what rate.

Temporary travel overseas

When travelling overseas temporarily, you will generally only be paid DSP for up to 28 days in any 12 month period.

On the day you depart Australia, we count the number of days you have been paid DSP while outside Australia in the preceding 12 months.

We count any day you have been paid DSP while outside Australia on or after 1 January 2015 until the 12 month anniversary of that day.

This assessment is made each day until 28 days overseas is reached and DSP ceases to be payable.

If you have been paid DSP for more than 28 days overseas in the preceding 12 month period, DSP is not payable.

The day you return to Australia is counted as a day inside Australia.

You may continue to be paid DSP for longer than 28 days in a 12 month period if you:

  • are studying outside Australia as part of a full time Australian course
  • are severely disabled and dependent on, and living with, a family member who has been temporarily posted to work outside Australia, or
  • have been assessed in Australia prior to departure as having a permanent, severe impairment and no future work capacity - assessment involves a review of your DSP qualification and a Job Capacity Assessment

If you have already been paid DSP outside Australia for 28 days in a 12 month period, you may still be paid for up to 28 days per trip if we assess that your reason for travel is one of the following approved reasons:

  • to attend an acute family crisis; for example, to visit a family member who is critically ill
  • to receive eligible medical treatment that is not available in Australia, or
  • for humanitarian purposes

Humanitarian reasons include:

  • competing as a member of the Australian Paralympic Team at the summer or winter Paralympic Games
  • attending an event necessary to qualify or prepare as a competitor for the Paralympic Games within the 12 month lead up to the Paralympic Games. You will need to provide written evidence from the Australian Sports Commission, that verifies details of the event. If you have attended eligible events in the 12 months leading up to the September 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, you can contact us and have any previous periods of non-payment reviewed
  • where you are required to attend custody proceedings
  • where you are adopting a child
  • where you are required to appear as a witness in legal proceedings
  • where you are attending a memorial service that has been approved by the Australian Government

If you have returned to live in Australia within the last 2 years and you have started receiving DSP during this period, you will not be paid for any departures until the 2 year waiting period has passed. This rule also applies if you were previously paid under an international social security agreement while you were living outside Australia and your Disability Support Pension continues to be paid now you have returned to live in Australia again.

If you are affected by this rule and you travel outside Australia while remaining an Australian resident, your absence is generally considered to be temporary and is counted as part of the 2 year waiting period.

If you travel to a country with which Australia has an international social security agreement, you may be able to continue to get your payment under that social security agreement.

Leaving Australia to live in another country

If you leave Australia to live in another country you will not be paid DSP unless you:

  • are terminally ill
  • left Australia prior to 1 July 2004, and at the time of leaving you were told that you could be paid indefinitely, and you have not returned to Australia to live since that time, or
  • have been assessed in Australia prior to the departure as having a permanent, severe impairment and no future work capacity. Assessment involves a review of your DSP qualification and a Job Capacity Assessment

In these situations, you will continue to be paid DSP while you are outside Australia but your rate of payment will change at certain points.

However, if you travel to a country with which Australia has an international social security agreement, you may be able to continue to get your payment under that social security agreement.

International social security agreements

If you are going to a country that has an international social security agreement with Australia that covers DSP, the agreement may allow you to be paid for longer. To be able to use an agreement, you have to be severely disabled and meet the claim requirements under the agreement. There may be other requirements before you can be paid under an agreement.

If you are already paid under an international social security agreement, the amount you receive is determined according to the agreement. In general, most agreements allow payment to continue indefinitely while you are in the agreement country or in Australia. If you go to another country, you can generally be paid for the same period as a person who leaves Australia and is not paid under an agreement.

Once you are paid under an agreement, the amount you receive is determined according to that agreement.

When to tell us about your travel

You should always tell us if you are leaving Australia.

Where possible, contact us as soon as you have plans to travel, and preferably at least 6 weeks prior to departure. This will allow time to arrange any medical review that may be required. A medical review may be required for you to be paid overseas for longer than 28 days in any 12 month period.

The easiest way to tell us about your travel plans is to use your Centrelink online account through myGov. You can get tailored information on how your payments and concession cards could be affected. You may need to phone us to discuss your circumstances further.

DSP rate while outside Australia

If you can be paid DSP outside Australia, your rate of payment may change based on how long you have been away and your personal circumstances.

Pension Supplement

Your Pension Supplement will reduce to the basic rate and your Energy Supplement will stop when you leave Australia to live in another country, or after 6 weeks if you go temporarily.

Your pension rate outside Australia

If you are eligible to be paid for longer than 6 weeks including if you are leaving Australia to live in another country, your pension will be paid at the outside Australia rate.

If you are paid DSP under an international social security agreement, the amount you are paid while you are outside Australia is based on that agreement. If you are paid under an agreement, the rate paid after 26 weeks (detailed below) may apply to you when you leave Australia.

DSP rate after 26 weeks

If your continuing inability to work or permanent blindness occurred when you were not an Australian resident, after 26 weeks outside Australia your payment rate will be based on how long you have lived in Australia as an Australian resident between 16 years of age and age pension age.

You will usually need to have lived in Australia as an Australian resident for 35 years to get your full means tested rate of DSP after 26 weeks outside of Australia. If you have lived in Australia for less than 35 years, you will generally get a proportional rate.

If you were receiving DSP outside Australia on 1 July 2014 and you have not returned and stayed in Australia for 26 weeks or more since then, you will usually need to have lived in Australia for 25 years to continue receiving your full rate of DSP after 26 weeks.

In the following examples, DSP can be paid for the entire absence.

Example 1

Maria arrived in Australia in June 2005 with an existing disability. After 26 weeks absence from Australia she receives a rate of pension based on her Australian Working Life Residence of 9 years. That is, she will receive 9/35ths (25%) of the maximum means tested rate of pension.

Example 2

Robert arrived in Australia in June 2005. He became unable to work due to his disability in 2012 while an Australian resident. Therefore, after 26 weeks absence from Australia there is no change to his pension rate. That is, he receives the maximum means tested rate of pension.

Going to New Zealand

Your rate may be affected by the Agreement with New Zealand from the date you arrive in New Zealand if you:

  • move to New Zealand to live
  • are going to live in any other country, or plan to leave Australia for more than 12 months, and you visit New Zealand, or
  • have been outside Australia for more than 26 weeks and you visit New Zealand

Your rate under the Agreement is based on how long you have lived in Australia and New Zealand between 20 years of age and the date you are assessed under the Agreement.

Read more about payments while outside Australia.

Page last updated: 13 July 2016

This information was printed Saturday 23 July 2016 from humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/disability-support-pension-while-travelling-outside-australia It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at humanservices.gov.au/siteinformation when using this material.