Social Security Agreement between Australia and Portugal - 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 about people who are being paid under the previous agreement?
- What does the Agreement do?
- What payments does the Agreement cover?
- What are the main features of the Agreement?
- How will seconded workers benefit under the Agreement?
- Where and how are claims for social security benefits made?
- When does payment start?
- How are Agreement pensions and benefits paid?
- What documents do I need To make a claim?
- What are the important things to know about the Australian social security system?
- How much Australian pension will I get if I am paid under this Agreement?
- Examples for residents of Australia
- Examples for residents of Portugal
- How do I find out more?
When did the Agreement start?
The original Agreement with Portugal commenced on 1 November 1992 (the 1992 Agreement). This Agreement has been updated and replaced with a new Agreement which commenced from 1 October 2002 (the 2002 Agreement).
What about people who are being paid under the previous agreement?
The 2002 Agreement contains provisions which protect people being paid under the 1992 Agreement. These people continue to be paid under the 2002 agreement while they remain qualified under the 1992 Agreement.
What does the Agreement do?
Under the Agreement Australia and Portugal share the responsibility for paying pensions to people who would otherwise not be entitled because they do not have sufficient residence in Australia or periods of contributions in Portugal. It also helps people who could not otherwise claim a pension because they are living abroad.
What payments does the Agreement cover?
The social security payments covered by the Agreement are as follows:
- Age Pension;
- Disability Support Pension for the severely disabled;
- Wife Pension (no new grants since 30 June 1995);
- Carer Payment for a person living in Portugal who is caring for a partner who receives Australian Age Pension or Disability Support Pension;
- pensions payable to widows
- Bereavement Allowance;
- Widow B Pension (no new grants since 20 March 1997);
- Parenting Payment (single); and
- additional child amounts for pensioners with dependent children.
- old age pension;
- invalidity pension;
- survivor's pension.
* Portugal also pays its non-contributory old age, invalidity and survivor's pensions under the Agreement but these are only paid in Portugal.
What are the main features of the Agreement?
Australian legislation requires a person to have a minimum of 10 years Australian residence before they can claim Age Pension or Disability Support Pension (this rule changes if the person becomes disabled after they take up permanent residence in Australia). It also requires the person to be an Australian resident and in Australia to claim a pension.
NB: Parenting Payment (single) and Bereavement Allowance have different residence requirements to Age Pension and Disability Support Pension.
The Department of Human Services website has information on residence requirements for payments covered by the Agreement.
Portuguese legislation requires minimum insurance periods to qualify for benefits.
Under the Agreement, periods of working life residence in Australia are treated as periods of insurance for Portugal. In the same way, Portuguese periods of insurance are treated by Australia as periods of residence in Australia.
These periods are added together to meet minimum periods required for the pensions offered by each country under the Agreement. These deemed periods do not affect the amount of pension paid.
A person who resides in Portugal is able to claim a pension from Australia without having to return to Australia for the purpose. Without the Agreement, the person must be residing in Australia to claim a pension.
To use the Agreement to claim an Australian pension while residing in Portugal, a person must have actually resided in Australia during their working life for a minimum of 12 months.
Where and how are claims made?
People living in Australia can lodge claims for Portuguese and Australian pensions with any Centrelink Customer Service Centre. Centrelink will supply all the necessary claim forms.
People living in Portugal can lodge claims with any office of the National Pensions Centre.
How will seconded workers benefit under the Agreement?
The Agreement contains provisions which mean that contributions do not have to be made into both country's systems for an employee seconded to work temporarily in the other country. The Australian Taxation Office is responsible for the administration of these provisions. Contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) if you require more information on this aspect of the Agreement. The website address is ATO - Superannuation. Or you can telephone them on 131020.
Where and how are claims for social security benefits made?
People living in Australia can lodge claims for Portuguese and Australian pension with any Centrelink Customer Service Centre. Centrelink will supply all necessary claim forms.
People living in Portugal can lodge claim forms with any office of the National Pensions Centre.
When does payment start?
In Australia's case, payment starts from the date the claim is lodged, or, if a claim is lodged early, the date the person qualifies for payment. NB: Age pension claims can be lodged up to 3 months in advance of qualification.
NB: Age Pension claims can be lodged up to 3 months in advance of qualification.
How are Agreement pensions and benefits paid?
If you get a pension from Australia, the Department of Human Services will pay it directly into your bank account every 2 weeks.
If, however, you are living overseas, your pension will be paid directly into your bank account every 4 weeks. Payments made to customers in Portugal are made in Euros.
Portugal pays its own pensions and benefits through the National Pensions Centre.
People who get a pension from both countries, will get two separate payments – one from Australia and one from Portugal.
What documents do I need to make a claim?
When you claim an Austrlian pension you will need to complete a claim form and provide documents to prove your identity and periods of residence in Australia.
Proof of Identity
Some of the acceptable documents to prove your identity are:
- birth certificate or extract;
- current Australian passport;
- certificate of Australian citizenship.
Proof of Residence in Australia
Helpful documents that can assist you do this include:
- Australian or overseas passport that shows your date of arrival in Australia;
- entry visa;
- Australian citizenship papers;
- employment and/or tax records, including group certificates issued by Australian employers.
Note: This is only a few of the documents that can be used to prove your identity and your Australian residence. Centrelink is able to provide more information on other acceptable documents to prove your identity and Australian benefits.
What are the important things to know about the Australian social security system?
All claimants for Australian Agreement pensions need to meet the other conditions (eg age limits, income and assets tests) required for that pension under Australia's social security laws.
Australian pensions are means-tested, that is, an income and assets test is applied. The pension rate is not affected by the income and assets test at the same time. The Department of Human Services website has information about the current income and assets test limits.
How much Australian pension will I get if I am paid under this Agreement?
Australian pensions for people who are outside Australia are calculated differently to pensions for those who are inside Australia.
Australian pension for a person living in Australia
When a person living in Australia is granted a pension under the Agreement (because of lack of qualifying residence), the person receives the normal means-tested pension less the amount of any Portuguese benefit they also receive. The Portuguese benefit is 'topped up' to the rate of Australian pension they would get if they did not receive any Portuguese benefit.
Australian pension for a person not living in Australia
The rate of Australian pension payable outside Australia is affected by two things:
- length of Australian residence during working life; and
- the amount of income or assets in excess of specified limits.
Australian pensions paid overseas are paid at a proportional rate reflecting the person's working life residence in Australia. For claims made since 1 July 2014, a person with 35 years residence during 'working life' (between age 16 and Age Pension age) can be paid a full basic means-tested pension. A person with less than 35 years Australian working life residence, has his or her rate worked out on a proportional basis.
For example, a person with 20 years working life residence would receive 20/35ths (or 57%) of the basic means-tested pension rate; a person with 12 years working life residence would receive 12/35ths (or 34%).
The income and assets tests also apply, so that a person with 35 years of working life residence in Australia could still receive only a part pension if their income or assets exceeded the threshold limits. The Department of Human Services website has more information on the current income and assets limits.
When a pension is paid outside Australia the Agreement may also provide a concession on the proportion of any contributory Portuguese pension received which is counted as income for the income test. This also applies to pensions granted without the assistance of the Agreement.
Examples for residents of Australia
Mr da Silva is aged 65 and has lived in Australia for 6 years. Before moving to Australia he lived in Portugal and paid contributions to the Portuguese social insurance system for 35 years. He now wishes to claim an Australian Age Pension.
- Without the Agreement
He cannot get an Australian Age Pension because he has not lived in Australia for 10 years or more.
- With the Agreement
Mr da Silva can add his 6 years as an Australian resident to his 35 years of contributions in Portugal so that he meets the minimum 10 years Australian residence required to qualify for an Australian Age Pension.
Also, Centrelink would assist him in claiming any Portuguese pension he may be entitled to.
Mr Monteiro has lived in Australia for 2 years and is now 65 years old. He has also lived in Portugal for 4 years and contributed to the social insurance system while there. He wishes to claim an Australian Age Pension.
Mr Monteiro would not qualify for an Australian Age Pension because, even if he does add his periods of contributions in Portugal to his period of Australian residence, he still will not have at least 10 years of Australian residence he needs to qualify for an Age Pension.
Examples for residents of Portugal
Following are some examples of how the Agreement assists people living in Portugal:
Mr da Costa is aged 65 and has lived in Australia for 20 years during his working life. He is now living in Portugal and is already receiving a Portuguese benefit. He left Australia before reaching Age Pension age.
- Without the Agreement
Although he has more than 10 years required for Australian Age Pension, he would not qualify for payment as he is not an Australian resident and in Australia.
- With the Agreement
The Agreement's lodgement provisions allow Mr da Costa to claim an Australian pension even though he is a resident of Portugal.
His rate of Australian pension would be proportionalised; 20/35ths of the basic means-tested rate would be paid.
The Portuguese National Pensions Centre would assist him in claiming an Australian pension.
Mr Barrias is aged 65 living in Portugal. He has 16 years of contributions to the Portuguese social insurance system. He has also lived in Australia for 9 months.
- Without the Agreement
Mr Barrias would be entitled to a Portuguese pension only. No Australian pension could be paid because he is not an Australian resident and in Australia.
- With the Agreement
No change. Mr Barrias would still receive a Portuguese pension, but would not be entitled to an Australian pension because under the Agreement the minimum period of Australian working life residence is one year (of which at least six months must be continuous).
How do I find out more?
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 policy information, contact the Department of Social Services (email@example.com).
For more information on how the Agreement will assist seconded workers, contact the Australian Taxation Office.