Australia and Poland - Frequently Asked Questions
How It Works
This information is intended as a guide only. If you think you may be entitled to a benefit you should lodge a claim.
When did the agreement start?
The Agreement started on 1 October 2010.
What benefits are covered under the Agreement?
For Australia, the Agreement covers Age Pension. For Poland, the Agreement covers Age Pension, Disability Pension, Survivors Pension, Work Accidents and Occupational Diseases Compensation and Pension, and Funeral Benefit.
Please note there are some restrictions on qualification for certain Polish payments.
Why do we have social security agreements?
The proposed Social Security Agreement between Australia and Poland coordinates the two countries’ social security schemes to provide better retirement income coverage for people who have moved between the two countries.
People who have lived in more than one country often find that, when they claim a pension, they do not have enough residence or contributions under a social security scheme to qualify for payment or have insufficient support.
To help overcome this problem, a network of social security agreements has been set up within the international community.
One of the key elements in these agreements is that the partner countries broadly share the responsibility for social security coverage. If a person has lived and worked in more than one country, then it is fair that those countries share the responsibility for supporting that person when he/she claims a pension.
Agreements help many people to receive a part pension from one or both countries, which they would not otherwise get. It is an important principle that Agreements do not take away existing entitlements.
The Agreement with Poland is similar to the agreements Australia already has with Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malta, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the USA. New agreements have also been signed with the Czech Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia but are not yet in force.
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What does Australia do under the agreement?
To qualify for an Australian Age Pension people normally have to be Australian residents and in Australia on the day a claim for pension is lodged, and they usually must also have at least ten years Australian residence.
The Agreement modifies these rules so that:
- Australia will treat someone who is resident in Poland as being a resident of Australia and present in Australia, so that the person can lodge a claim for Australian Age Pension;
- Australia will add the person’s periods of insurance in Poland to his or her Australian residence so that the person can meet the minimum residence qualifications to get an Australian Age Pension;
- Australia guarantees to pay Age Pension indefinitely in Poland, provided the person remains otherwise entitled to receive it.
What does Poland do under the agreement?
Poland guarantees to pay it's pensions into Australia indefinitely. Generally, without the use of the Agreement, Polish pension is not payable outside Poland.
Under the Agreement, people will also be able to add their periods of Australian Working Life Residence to their periods of insurance to the Polish system in order to qualify for Polish Age Pension.
Entitlement to some other Polish benefits (eg. Disability Pension and Survivors Pension) can be obtained under the Agreement; however, people living outside of Poland cannot use Australian Working Life Residence to help qualify for these benefits.
How are pensions calculated under the agreement?
People who live in Australia but do not have ten years’ residence in Australia can count their Polish periods of insurance to qualify for an Australian pension, subject to the means-test. During this time (until they have ten years’ residence in Australia) they will be paid the normal means-tested pension rate less the amount of any Polish pension - ie, the Polish pension would be ‘topped-up’ to the rate of Australian pension they would receive if they had no Polish pension.
Australian pensions in Poland will be based on the person’s period of ‘Australian Working Life Residence’ [this is the period between age 16 and Age Pension age]. A full pension, subject to the means-test, is payable to a person with 25 years ‘Australian Working Life Residence’. For example, under the Agreement, a man who has lived in Australia from age 30 to age 50 (ie 20 years) may, at age 65, be paid 20/25ths of a means-tested Australian age pension in Poland. A minimum of 12 months of Australian Working Life Residence is normally required.
The amount of Polish pension payable will be determined under the legislation of Poland, and is based on the periods of insurance completed in the Polish social insurance scheme.
Administration and lodgement of claims
The Agreement will create administrative links between the social security systems of Australia and Poland which will help pensioners in one country in their dealings with the social security authorities of the other.
Centrelink will assist people in Australia with claims for Polish and Australian Age Pensions, and the Polish Social Insurance Institutions will assist people in Poland with claims for Australian and Polish pensions.
Double superannuation coverage
The Agreement between Australia and Poland also includes provisions that address the problem of double coverage. Double coverage can arise where an employee is sent temporarily from one country to another to work and compulsory superannuation (or equivalent) contributions are required under the laws of both countries for the same work. The Agreement provides that, in these situations, the employer/employee will generally only be subject to the legislation of their home country.
For example, where an employer sends an employee from Australia to work temporarily in Poland, and double coverage would arise, the Agreement provides that the employer will instead only be required to make Australian Superannuation Guarantee contributions and will be exempted from making contributions under Polish law. Equivalent provisions apply for a Polish employee seconded to work in Australia.
Where can I find more information?
For more information, please contact DSS International Branch.
For information on claim procedures and payments, please contact Centrelink International Services or call Centrelink International Services on 13 1673. You can write to:
Centrelink International Services
GPO Box 273
HOBART TAS 7001
For more information on how the Agreement will assist seconded workers, contact the Australian Taxation Office.