A pension or allowance may be portable if the person was receiving a payment immediately before they left Australia, or if the payment is granted after they have left Australia. The period a payment may be paid overseas will depend on the particular payment. Recipients of some payments are able to obtain indefinite portability subject to some restrictions as to amount that is payable. Indefinite portability means a recipient can reside overseas permanently and continue to receive the relevant payment. Where an international agreement (see “International agreements”) applies, and a particular payment can be claimed under the agreement in the agreement country, then the international agreement overrides the portability rules for that payment.
Payments that do not have unlimited portability generally require that a person remain an Australian resident and as such are only payable where the absence from Australia is temporary.
The following payments are portable for up to six weeks temporary absence from Australia:
•Mature Age and Mature Age Partner Allowance
•Carer Payment (so long as carer is travelling with the person being cared for, or if the carer intends to return to care situation when they return from absence).
The following payments are also portable for up to six weeks temporary absence from Australia, subject to the limitations or extensions as noted. Where a payment recipient has participation requirements, they will need to be exempted from their participation requirements for the duration of their absence:
•Wife Pension and Widows Pension (six weeks, but some recipients can obtain indefinite portability where they meet the definition of an “entitled person”);
•Newstart Allowance, Sickness Benefit and Special Benefit (six weeks, but only where absent for medical treatment not available in Australia, humanitarian reasons, acute family crisis, or for Armed Forces Reserves service);
•Youth Allowance and Austudy recipients where the recipient is in full-time overseas study for an approved full-time Australian course, or where travelling overseas;
•for medical treatment not available in Australia, humanitarian reasons, acute family crisis, or for Armed Forces Reserves service;
•Disability Support Pension where the person does not have an assessment from Centrelink that they are severely and permanently impaired and that they have no capacity to work (four weeks in a 12 month period);
•for temporary absences, but portability may be granted indefinitely if terminally ill and planning to return to country of origin or to be with family for care and support. Former residents have a two year waiting period before their pension is portable outside Australia.
The following payments have unlimited portability subject to the limitations as noted:
•Disability Support Pension where the person has an assessment from Centrelink that they are severely and permanently impaired and have no capacity to work (for the first 26 weeks paid at the full domestic rate, and after 26 weeks is paid on the basis of the Australian working life residence rules set out below; former residents have a two year waiting period before their pension is portable outside Australia);
•Aged Pension (for the first 26 weeks paid at the full domestic rate, and after 26 weeks is paid on the basis of the Australian working life residence rules set out below; former residents have a two year waiting period before their pension is portable outside Australia);
•Bereavement Allowance; and
•Paid Parental Leave (although recipient must continue to meet the definition of an Australian resident throughout the period of payment).
“Working life residence” is the person’s period of Australian residence occurring between the age of 16 and Age Pension age. If a person has spent 35 years or more in Australia they are entitled to the maximum rate of pension. They are otherwise only able to receive a proportion of the pension based on the percentage of the 35 years over 16 that they have been resident in Australia.
For temporary absences from Australia, ancillary payments (such as Rent Assistance) are payable for the same length of time as the substantive payment or up to six weeks, whichever occurs first. The person must also remain qualified for the ancillary payment. Pharmaceutical Allowance, Rent Assistance and Incentive Allowance can be paid for up 26 weeks for persons with unlimited portability.
The portability period can be extended only for the following:
•a serious accident or illness;
•hospitalisation of the person or a family member;
•death of a family member;
•custody proceedings in which the person is involved;
•a legal requirement to attend court because of criminal proceedings;
•a serious crime committed against the person or a family member;
•a natural disaster;
•political/social unrest or war; or