Social Security Agreement between Australia and Hellenic Republic (Greece) - Frequently Asked Questions
Note: The following information is provided as a guide only. People should contact Centrelink International Services on 131 673 for specific information relating to their circumstances.
- When did the Agreement start?
- What benefits are covered by the Agreement?
- How does the Agreement help people?
- Do I have to claim a Greek pension?
- How will my Greek pension affect my Australian pension?
- How is the Australian pension worked out for Greek residents?
- Why are there two different calculations for Greek residents?
- Can military service in Greece be counted towards Greek insurance periods?
- How do I claim?
- How are Agreement pensions and benefits paid?
- Will people still be able to receive refunds of Australian Superannuation contributions?
- How do I find out more?
The Agreement started on 1 October 2008.
The Agreement covers Australian and Greek Age Pensions.
The Agreement does not cover health care and makes no changes to medical insurance coverage in either country.
The Agreement helps people in either country to satisfy the minimum qualifying residence period for an Australian pension and the minimum qualifying insurance period for a Greek pension. Periods of residence in Australia and periods of insurance in Greece can be added together to qualify for Australian and Greek pensions.
The Agreement also eliminates the need for double contributions when Australians are sent to work temporarily in Greece, or when Greek employees are sent to work temporarily in Australia. For Australia, this affects the Superannuation Guarantee.
If you are receiving an Australian Age Pension and may be entitled to a Greek old age pension, Australian law requires that you take action to apply for a Greek old age pension.
Australian Age Pensions are subject to income and assets tests, whether you live in Australia or another country. You must tell Centrelink about all income you receive from sources in Australia or any other country and about assets you hold in any country. If you have a partner you must also tell Centrelink about your partner's income and assets.
Information about the income and assets tests is available on the Department of Human Services website.
Australia has a 10 year qualifying period of residence for Age Pension. A person who lives in Australia with less than 10 years of Australian residence may qualify for an Australian pension by adding periods of insurance in Greece. However, until these people have lived in Australia for 10 years, one dollar will be deducted from their Australian pension for each dollar of Greek pension received.
Under the Agreement Australian residents who return to live permanently in Greece after 1 October 2008 can claim a means-tested Australian Age Pension based on their working life residence in Australia over a denominator of 25 years.
People already living permanently in Greece before 1 October 2008 can claim an Australian Age Pension, based on the proportion of their total working life (for this purpose considered to be 44 years) spent in Australia.
The income and assets tests operate in the same way for residents of both Greece and Australia.
Australia's social security system is a non contributory system that does not require a person to have worked or paid taxes in Australia. It is based on the concepts of residence and need and paid out of general revenue/taxes.
The formula for calculating Australian pensions was discussed for many years and formally accepted by the Greek Government through the signing of an MOU in October 2005 after consulting with community representatives.
Military service in Greece can be regarded as Greek insurance periods provided that the person has completed 3600 days (or 12 years) of insurance and has turned 58 years of age.
Claims forms are available from and may be lodged with Centrelink or your local Greek pension fund. It is important that claims are lodged promptly as the Australian Age Pension and some Greek old age pension payments cannot be backdated.
If you get an Australian pension in Australia, the Department of Human Services will pay it directly into your bank account every 2 weeks.
If you get an Australian pension and you reside permanently in Greece, the Department of Human Services will pay it into your nominated Greek bank account every 4 weeks. Payments to customers in Greece are in Euros.
The Agreement includes provisions to eliminate the need for compulsory contributions to be paid into both countries' systems in respect of the same work when employees are sent to work temporarily in the other country.
People who worked in Australia on 'eligible temporary resident visas' can still apply for refunds of their accumulated superannuation benefit when they leave Australia. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) administers these provisions and enquiries should be directed to the ATO on 13 1020.
The Greek system does not allow for refunds of contributions to their system.
For more information on claim procedures and payments:
- Contact Centrelink International Services.
- Visit your local Centrelink Customer Service Centre.
- Department of Human Services Publications - Australia's International Social Security Agreements Factsheets
For more information on how the Agreement will assist seconded workers, contact the Australian Taxation Office.