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Portability

Based on the contribution of Faisal Bakhtiar, Rosalinda Casamento and Olympia Sarrinikolaou, Victoria Legal Aid, as amended by Genevieve Bolton, Executive Director/Principal Solicitor of Canberra Community Law and current to 30 April 2018

Sections 1211-1221

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.

See the portability table in the Social Security Guide at http://guides.dss.gov.au/guide-social-security-law/7/1/2/20 for how long and under what conditions payments are portable.

Age pensioners and certain other pensioners with unlimited portability, are required to have been Australian residents for 35 years during their working life (from age 15 to Age Pension age) to receive their full rate of pension after 26 weeks absence from Australia. 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.

The portability period can be extended only for the following:
  • a serious accident or illness or the person or family member;
  • hospitalisation of the person or a family member;
  • death of a family member;
  • custody proceedings that involve the person;
  • a legal requirement to attend court because of criminal proceedings;
  • robbery or a serious crime committed against the person or a family member;
  • a natural disaster;
  • political/social unrest or war; or
  • industrial action.

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