Are New Zealanders able to get the pension in Australia? Yes! But there is more to it. Here is all the information you need to know…

New Zealanders who are 65 or older and live in Australia may be eligible for both an Australian age pension and NZ superannuation, depending on the amount of their working life they spent in each country.

Australian age pensions are asset and income tested, so any assets or income a New Zealander has will affect the amount payable. In addition, the rate of New Zealand Superannuation payable in Australia cannot exceed the amount of Australian Age Pension that would be payable if the New Zealander was entitled to receive an Australian Age Pension but was not entitled to receive New Zealand Superannuation. Read more about income test for pensions here and asset tests here.

This means that where a New Zealander cannot receive the Australian Age Pension because their income and assets exceed the limits, that person cannot receive New Zealand Superannuation in Australia.

To qualify for a pension, a New Zealander must have been resident in either Australia or New Zealand for at least 10 years of their working life (between the ages of 20 and 65).

You can continue to get your New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super) or Veteran’s Pension payments for up to 26 weeks (inclusive) after you leave New Zealand.

There are different rates of Age Pension payments for single people and couples. Read about how your relationship status can affect your payment rate.

Payment Rates

The Australian Government Department of Human Services use income and assets tests to work out how much Age Pension you get.

Below are the maximum rates:

Per fortnight Single Couple each Couple combined Couple apart due to ill health
Maximum basic rate $843.60 $635.90 $1,271.80 $843.60
Maximum Pension Supplement $68.50 $51.60 $103.20 $68.50
Energy Supplement $14.10 $10.60 $21.20 $14.10
Total $926.20 $698.10 $1,396.20 $926.20

If you’re a member of a couple, it can affect what payments you can get and your payment rate. You can read about it here.

The New Zealand Social Security Agreement with Australia

New Zealand and Australia have a social security agreement. The Agreement covers the following benefits and pensions:

New Zealand benefits and pensions:

  • Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind)
  • New Zealand Superannuation
  • Veteran’s Pension

Australia benefits and pensions:

  • Disability Support Pension (for the severely disabled)
  • Carer Payment for the partner of a person who is in receipt of Disability Support Pension
  • Australian Age Pension

The agreement means that New Zealand residents who have lived, live or are going to live in Australia may qualify for a benefit or pension from both Australia and New Zealand.

If you are paid or apply for a benefit or pension in NZ then you must apply for the equivalent in Australia.

New Zealand Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind) and Australian Disability Support Pension (for the severely disabled)

In order to qualify for the Australian Disability Support Pension under the Agreement you must meet the below criteria for either the New Zealand Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind) or Australian Disability Support Pension and you must also be assessed as “severely disabled”.

“Severely disabled” means:

  • you must have a physical, psychiatric or intellectual impairment that makes you totally unable to work or benefit from any assistance or rehabilitation programme for the next two years or
  • you must be permanently blind and
  • the severe disablement must have occurred while you were a resident in either Australia or New Zealand.

Getting a benefit or pension in Australia

If you intent to or do live in Australia you may qualify for a benefit or pension from both Australia and New Zealand.

As stated above, you must apply for a benefit or pension in both countries.

Once you applications are processed you may be paid payments from both New Zealand and Australia, e.g. your payment is made up of a NZ Superannuation payment and an Australian Age Pension payment. When this happens the total amount you will receive will be similar to the amount you would have received if you spent all your life in Australia.

Getting a New Zealand benefit or pension in Australia

Senior Services International uses certain criteria to decide who can receive a NZ pension or benefit in Australia and how much you will be paid.

You can read more about this here: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/pensions/travelling-or-moving/social-security-agreements/australia.html#null.

Do you already receive a New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension?

If you already receive either the NZ superannuation or Veteran’s pension, are over 65 before you leave NZ and meet the age criteria for the Australian Age Pension, you can continue to receive your NZ payments for up to 26 weeks after leaving NZ. If you don’t meet the Australian Age Pension criteria your payments will stop the day after you leave NZ.

You should check what you will be paid in Australia before you leave NZ as it may be less than what you are currently been paid especially if:

  • you receive any supplementary benefits and allowances (such as the Accommodation Supplement or Disability Allowance) in New Zealand as these can’t be paid after you leave New Zealand, or
  • you have a partner under 65 who is already included in your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension payments, or
  • you have income and/or assets that may affect your entitlement to an Australian Age Pension, or
  • you have lived in a country other than New Zealand or Australia.

Whether you are paid in Australia will depend on the outcome of your application for the Australian Age Pension, which includes an income and asset test.

What do you need to do within 26 weeks?

To see if your NZ payments will continue for more than 26 weeks after leaving NZ you must apply for the NZ Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension to be paid to you in Australia.

To do this you need to apply for an Australian Age Pension through your local Centrelink office with 26 weeks of leaving NZ.

If Centrelink grant you an Australian Age Pension, they will send you a NZ application form to complete so Senior Services International can work out whether you will continue to be paid and how much you will receive.

If Centrelink can’t grant you an Australian Age Pension because you don’t meet the residency requirements, please contact Work and Income in NZ.

How do you apply for an Australian Pension or benefit?

You need to apply for a benefit or pension within four weeks of leaving NZ. You need to get application forms from your local Centerlink office or call Centerlink International Services.

What you need when you apply for an Australian benefit or pension in Australia:

  • proof of your identity, e.g. passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, or driver licence
  • your bank account details so that payments can be made to you (bank book, bank statement or deposit slip)
  • proof of any income and assets you have.

Things to do before leaving New Zealand for Australia

  • Advise Work and Income about your plans.
  • Make sure you have all document ready: proof of your identity (eg passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate or driver licence), your bank account details, and any doctors’ or specialists’ reports, if you receive the New Zealand Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind).
  • If you receive an overseas pension that is paid using the Special Banking Option in New Zealand, you need to contact that overseas agency and request that they pay directly to your personal bank account. For help with this please contact Senior Services International

Things to do after arriving in Australia

  • If you are paid the Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind) or a Veteran’s Pension and are under 65, you must apply for the Disability Support Pension within four weeks of leaving New Zealand. Your partner may be able to apply for an Australian Carer Payment. To make an application, talk to your local Centrelink office or call Centrelink International Services.
  • If you are paid New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran’s Pension and you are over 65, you must apply for an Australian Age Pension within 26 weeks of leaving New Zealand. To make an application, talk to your local Centrelink office or call Centrelink International Services.

Still got questions about the Australia Age Pension?

Read the below page in full if any of the below apply to you:

  • What happens if I don’t apply within 26 weeks?
  • What if I am over 65 but my partner is under 65?
  • What happens if I don’t qualify for an Australian Age Pension?
  • Can I receive the Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind)?
  • What happens if I have a partner?
  • What if I already receive the Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind)?
  • What do I have to do to continue to receive the Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind)?
  • What happens when I apply for a Disability Support Pension?
  • What happens if I don’t qualify for a Disability Support Pension?
  • What if I spent time in a country other than New Zealand and Australia?

Work and Income page Social security agreement with Australia:
https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/pensions/travelling-or-moving/social-security-agreements/australia.html#null.

6 Comments

  1. Sana

    June 23, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Hi JJ
    I’m a non protected SCV NZ citizen living in Australia since Jan 2010. I and my now 22 year old both have been living here since Jan 2010.
    I have worked all along with periods of unemployment where I got zero help from Continuing etc. I worry that I might get injured in a non-work situation (a NZ friend recently got injured recently) and being non-work related and with a 22yr old that is totally dependant on me (housing. Bills. Uni fees etc as he does not get HECS/student loan in Australia as we are not Australian citizens) I worry about how I’ll cope if couldn’t work due to an injury which cannot for example be classified as ‘severe disability ‘
    Does Work n Income help in such a situation or then does Centerlink help Nz citizens who are not Australian citizen? ( I cannot apply for permanent residency as I’m in my mid 50s and don’t meet the age requirement)
    If I got injured and couldnt work I would still want to remain here in OZ to be closer to my older son who is also employed here
    Please advise what happens in such a complex scenario?
    I mean I live and rent my older son’s house. Have furniture, car, etc etc for a comfortable life and it would be difficult to just pack and leave for nz in an emergency where I couldn’t work and couldnt have money for my regular bills until I got better after an injury/surgery/etc which are not of a permanent disability nature. But I would still need help to get through that difficult period where I couldn’t work n pay my bills n rent etc
    Please advise what the law is on such a borderline situation?
    Thanks :))

    Reply
  2. Bess

    May 30, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Kia ora,
    I am a superannuant..my husband is not.
    We would like to move to Perth,closer to children & help out with grandchildren…
    Our children are there due to good jobs,as there ain’t any here in Whitianga…
    Do you know of people like us who have done this,that can advise us.
    I am heavily involved in community affairs am a JP…work part time in my own digital embroidery business.& church business.
    No medical problems.”.clean bill of health.
    …just want to be wth kids & grandkids now.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      June 9, 2019 at 11:57 pm

      Hi Bess,
      Thank you for your comment. Sorry for the delay in replying.
      I see that you have read my post – Can a NZ citizen get an Australian benefit or pension? Hopefully this answered most of your questions regarding getting the pension in Australia.
      I don’t have anyone that I can put you in touch with, but am happy to try answer any specific questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
      • Bess

        June 25, 2019 at 11:22 pm

        Kia ora,
        I’m wanting to talk to someone who has sold up & bought over i Perth /Aus ..to be with whanau & mokopuna.
        We love our home here in Whitianga,but our kids are all working in Perth…& have been for years.
        We now want to move over & be close to them & help out …with the time we have left.
        Kia ora
        Bess

        Reply

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