Australian pensions in New Zealand

Australian pensions in New Zealand: common questions

Common questions and answers

Who is entitled to Australian Benefits and Pensions paid in New Zealand?

New Zealand has a social security agreement with Australia. Under the Agreement the following benefits and pensions are available to former Australian residents living in New Zealand:

  • age pension
  • disability support pension (this normally applies if you are severely disabled)
  • carer payment in respect of the partner of a person who is in receipt of a disability support pension

Centrelink decides who can receive an Australian benefit or pension and how much will be paid. Australian benefits and pensions are income and asset tested.

For more information about the Australian income and asset test, contact:

How do I apply for an Australian benefit or pension?

If you have previously lived in Australia and you are not already getting an Australian benefit or pension, you need to complete an application form. You can contact Senior Services who will send you the form or you can download it directly from the Centrelink website.

We will forward your application to Centrelink, Australia which is the government office that administers the Australian social security scheme.

Once you have submitted your application Centrelink will contact you directly to tell you their decision.

You need to provide:

  • your passport
  • another form of identification (birth certificate or driver licence, marriage certificate)
  • 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
  • any other information that you think will be helpful.

Why do I need to apply for an Australian Benefit or Pension?

You and your spouse or partner are required, under the Social Security Act 2018 (sections 173-176), to take all reasonable steps to apply for any overseas pensions for which you may be eligible. If you, or your spouse/partner, do not apply for any Australian benefit or pension for which you may be eligible, you risk losing your entitlement to New Zealand benefit or pension.

How much Australian benefit or pension will I receive in New Zealand?

Generally, the amount of Australian benefit or pension you are paid is about equal to the Australian benefit or pension you would be paid if you had lived all your life in Australia.

Centrelink decides whether you qualify for an Australian benefit or pension using Australian law and an income and asset test. Centrelink decides how much Australian benefit or pension you can be paid in New Zealand.

For more information about the Australian income and asset test, contact:

Will the amount of Australian benefit or pension be increased while I live in New Zealand?

The maximum rate of all payments from Centrelink will change from time to time. Most payments are adjusted in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) but other payments are adjusted by changes in legislation.

Your Australian benefit or pension is generally increased in March and September each year.

How often will I receive payments of my Australian benefit or pension in New Zealand?

For those clients living in New Zealand your Australian benefit or pension is paid every four weeks.

Will my Australian benefit or pension affect the amount of New Zealand benefit or pension I get?

The Social Security Act 2018 (sections 187-191) requires the rate of New Zealand benefit or pension to be reduced where an overseas pension is:

  • part of a programme that provides benefits, pensions and periodical allowances for the same circumstances for which New Zealand benefits and pensions would be paid (for example old age/retirement, invalidity and survivors pensions); and
  • administered by, or on behalf of, an overseas government.

The Australian Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer's payment fit within the requirements in sections 187-191 because:

  • these pensions are part of the Australian social security programme which provides Australian benefits and pensions for similar types of circumstances for which New Zealand benefits and pensions would be paid, and
  • Australian benefits and pensions are administered by Centrelink, an agency of the Australian government.

This means that if you are entitled to an Australian benefit or pension paid by Centrelink, it will be deducted dollar for dollar from your New Zealand benefit or pension payments.

Are there any instances where the state pension does not affect the rate of New Zealand benefit or pension?

There is no provision in New Zealand legislation that would allow the amount of the Australian benefit or pension to be disregarded when determining the amount of New Zealand benefit or pension to be paid.

However if you travel or move to a country other than New Zealand or Australia you may be entitled to a proportional amount of New Zealand benefit or pension based on the amount of time that you have lived in New Zealand. When paid this rate of New Zealand benefit or pension you can generally keep your Australian benefit or pension.

For more information about moving or travelling to a third country contact Senior Services.

Am I entitled to other payments in addition to a New Zealand benefit or pension?

You may also be eligible for extra help such as a Disability Allowance for medical costs and an Accommodation Supplement for accommodation expenses. Contact Senior Services or Work and Income to check whether you are entitled to extra help.

Does my Australian benefit or pension affect my spouse or partner's New Zealand benefit or pension?

This depends on the amount of Australian benefit or pension you receive. If the amount of Australian benefit or pension you receive is less than your New Zealand benefit or pension entitlement, the amount of your spouse or partner's New Zealand benefit or pension is not affected. If the amount of Australian benefit or pension you receive is greater than your New Zealand benefit or pension entitlement, the amount of Australian benefit or pension that exceeds the amount of your New Zealand benefit or pension entitlement will be deducted from your spouse or partner's New Zealand benefit or pension.

Does my spouse or partner's Australian benefit or pension affect my New Zealand benefit or pension?

If you receive New Zealand benefit or pension and your spouse or partner does not, any Australian benefit or pension that your spouse or partner receives will be deducted from your New Zealand benefit or pension.

Why can't I receive the Australian benefit or pension and the full New Zealand benefit or pension ?

The Social Security Act 2018 (sections 187-191) ensures that the combined amount you receive from your New Zealand benefit or pension and any overseas pension is equivalent to the amount you would receive if you only received New Zealand benefit or pension.

It takes 10 years before a person becomes entitled to New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's pension. So if you were to receive a partial Australian pension as well as the full amount of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension, you would receive more state retirement pension than those superannuitants who have lived all their lives in New Zealand and who have contributed to the funding of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension for a longer period of time through paying their taxes.

What options are available for payment of my Australian benefit or pension in New Zealand?

You can choose to have your Australian benefit or pension paid by the Direct Payment Method or the Special Banking Option.

For more information, see:

Do similar pensions from other overseas countries also affect payment of New Zealand benefit or pension?

Yes, where the requirements of the Social Security Act 2018 (sections 187-191) apply, people who have lived in other overseas countries and who are also eligible for an overseas pension will have their overseas pension deducted from their New Zealand benefit or pension in the same way.

How do I find out about my own individual situation?

The rules around international agreements are complex. You should speak with us to clarify your own individual situation.

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