Social Security Agreement between Australia and Slovenia - Frequently Asked Questions
Note: The following information is intended as a general guide only. People should contact Centrelink International Services on 131 673 for specific information relating to their circumstances. if you think you may be entitled to a benefit you should lodge a claim.
- When did the Agreement start?
- What does the Agreement do?
- What payments does the Agreement cover?
- What are the main features of the Agreement?
- Where and how will people be able to lodge claims for social security pensions?
- When does payment start?
- How will pensions and benefits be paid
- Who handles claims and questions?
- What documents do I need to make a claim?
- What are the important things to know about the Australian social security system?
- How much pension will I get if I am paid under this Agreement?
- How do I find out more?
When did the Agreement start?
The Agreement started on 1 January 2004.
What does the Agreement do?
Under the Agreement, Australia and Slovenia share the responsibility for paying pensions to people who would not otherwise be entitled because they do not have enough residence in Australia or enough periods of insurance in Slovenia. It also helps people who could not otherwise claim because they are living abroad.
What payments are covered by the Agreement?
The social security pensions covered by the Agreement are as follows:
- Age Pension
- Disability Support Pension for the severely disabled.
- old-age pension
- invalidity pension
- survivor pension
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 an 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 on the day the claim for pension is lodged.
The Agreement allows people to use Slovenian periods of insurance to make up the 10 years Australian residence required to qualify for Age Pension or Disability Support Pension.
The Agreement also allows a person to claim an Australian pension while residing in Slovenia.
Note: To use the Agreement to claim an Australian pension while residing in Slovenia, a person must have actually resided in Australia during their working life (Australian working life residence is between 16 years of age and Age Pension age) for a minimum of 12 months.
The Department of Social Services has information on residence requirements for payments covered by the Agreement.
Slovenian legislation requires a person to have completed specified years of contributions or periods of insurance to qualify for pensions. This varies depending on the type of pension claimed and the person's age. For example, for old age pension a man aged 63 years or a woman aged 59 years requires 20 years of insurance to qualify for a pension.
The Agreement allows people to use periods of Australian working life residence in order to meet the minimum periods of insurance required to qualify for Slovenian pensions covered by the Agreement.
The Agreement also guarantees the payment of Slovenian pensions into Australia.
Note: To use the Agreement to qualify for a Slovenian pension a person must have a minimum period of insurance of 12 months.
Where and how will people be able to lodge claims for social security pensions?
People living in Australia will be able to lodge claims for Australian and Slovenian pensions with any Centrelink Customer Service Centre.
People living in Slovenia will be able to lodge claims for Slovenian and Australian pensions at an office of the Institute for Pensions and Disability Insurance of Slovenia.
When does payment start?
In Australia's case, payment starts from the date the claim is lodged, or if the claim is lodged early, the date the person qualifies for payment.
How will pensions and benefits be paid?
If you get an Australian pension in Australia, the Department of Social Services will pay it directly into your bank account every 2 weeks.
If you are living overseas, your Australian pension will be paid into your nominated bank account every 4 weeks. Payments made to customers in Slovenia are in Euros.
If you get a pension from Slovenia, the Institute for Pensions and Disability Insurance will pay it to you in Australia.
Some people might get pensions from both countries so they will get two separate payments – one from Australia and one from Slovenia.
Who will handle claims and questions?
Claims and questions relating to the Agreement will be handled by:
- for Australia, by Centrelink International Service (telephone 13 1673);
- Australian pensioners residing in Slovenia will be able to contact Centrelink International Service on +61 3 6222 3455;
- for Slovenia, by contacting the Institute for Pensions and Disability Insurance Slovenia.
What documents will I need to make a claim?
When you claim an Australian 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 Australian Residence
Helpful documents that can assist you to 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 residence.
If you are claiming an Australian pension while you are living in Slovenia, you will still have to provide proof of identity and proof of previous Australian residence to the Slovenian authorities.
The Slovenian authorities will advise you of the documentation you will need to provide.
What are the important things to know about the Australian social security system?
All claimants for Australian Agreement pensions need to meet the other qualifications (e.g. age limits, income or assets test) required for that pension under Australia's social security laws. Australian pensions are means tested, that is, an assets test is applied and then an income test, and whichever produces the lower rate is used for assessment. The rate of pensions 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 pension for a person not living in Australia
The rates of Australian pension payable outside of Australia is affected by two things: the length of Australian working life residence , and the amount of income and assets in excess of specified limits.
Australian pensions paid overseas are paid at a proportional rate reflecting the length of residence in Australia. For claims made since 1 July 2014, a person with 35 years residence in Australia during working life (between age 16 and Age Pension age) could be paid a full Age or Disability Support Pension (subject to the means test). With less than 35 years, the rate is worked out on a proportional basis. For example, a person with 20 years Australian working life residence would receive 20/35ths (or 57%) of an Australian pension.
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 exceed the allowable limits. The Department of Human Services website has more information about the current income and assets test.
Australian pension for a person living in Australia
When a pension is granted in Australia under the Agreement (because the person does not meet the minimum residence requirements), the person receives the normal means tested pension less the amount of any Slovenian pension they also receive. The Slovenian pension is 'topped up' to the rate of Australian pension the person would get if all they received was an Australian pension.
Following are examples of how the Agreement will assist people living in Slovenia.
A person who lived in Australia for 20 years during working life (between age 16 and Age Pension age) is now living in Slovenia and is already receiving a Slovenian old-age benefit. This person left Australia before reaching Age Pension age so cannot get an Australian pension.
- Without the Agreement
Although this person has more than the 10 years required for Australian Age Pension, they will not qualify for payment because they are not an Australian resident and in Australia at the time they claim.
- With the Agreement
This person is able to claim an Australian benefit without the need to return to Australia to live permanently. The Australian pension rate will be proportionalised, that is, the person will receive 20/35ths of the means tested rate.
A woman aged 65 has lived and worked in Australia for 8 years during her working life (between age 16 and Age Pension age). She has 12 years of insurance in Slovenia. She is now living in Slovenia.
- Without the Agreement
She will not qualify for an Australian pension because she is not living in Australia and if she did, she would not have the minimum 10 years of residence to claim an Age Pension. Also, she would not qualify for Slovenian old-age pension as she does not have the minimum number of years of insurance required to qualify for payment.
- With the Agreement
She is able to claim and qualify for an Australian Age Pension in Slovenia because her 8 years residence plus the periods of insurance in Slovenia add up to more than 10 years. Her rate of payment would be 8/35ths of the full rate, subject to the income and assets tests. She could also qualify for a Slovenian old-age pension because she can add her 8 years of Australian working life residence to the 12 years of insurance in Slovenia and qualify for payment.
A 65 year old man in Slovenia has the minimum period of insurance in Slovenia to qualify for old-age pension. He has lived in Australia for 9 months during his working life.
- Without the Agreement
This person is entitled to Slovenian pension only. No Australian pension can be paid because of lack of Australian residence and also because he is not living in Australia.
- With the Agreement
This person will continue to receive the Slovenian pension, but will not be entitled to Australian pension because the minimum period of Australian working life residence required for the grant of Australian pension under the Agreement to a person living outside Australia is 12 months.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more information on how the Agreement will assist seconded workers, contact the Australian Taxation Office.