Social Security Agreement between Australia and India - 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.
- When did the Agreement start?
- What does the Agreement do?
- What benefits are covered by the Agreement?
- What are the most important things to know about Australia’s social security system?
- Where and how can people lodge claims?
- Do I need to claim a pension from India?
- Can I get a refund of my contributions paid in India?
- What documents do I need to make a claim?
- How much pension will I get if I am paid under the Agreement?
- How are pensions and benefits paid?
- How do I find out more?
The Agreement started on 1 January 2016.
Under the Agreement, Australia and India share responsibility for pensions to people who would not otherwise be entitled because they do not have enough residence in Australia or sufficient insurance periods in India. It also helps people who could not otherwise claim because they are living abroad.
The Agreement also reduces costs for businesses operating in both countries through provisions regulating compulsory contributions for seconded workers. Under the Agreement, seconded employees and/or their employer are generally only subject to the legislation of their home country and are exempt from making contributions for the same work under the law of the other country.
For Australia, the Agreement covers Age Pension. For India, the Agreement covers the old age and survivor’s pensions and permanent total disability pension.
All claimants for Australian Age Pension need to meet minimum age and residence criteria under Australia’s social security laws. Australian pensions are also means tested – that is, an income test and an assets test is applied, and whichever results in the lower rate of pension is used for assessment purposes. The Department of Human Services website has information about the current income and assets limits.
People can lodge a claim for an Australian or Indian pension in either country. Claim forms are available from, and can be lodged with, Centrelink or the Indian Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
If you are receiving an Australian pension and may also be entitled to a foreign pension, Australian social security law requires that you take reasonable action to apply for it. This is because the Australian pension system is not based on contributions but is funded from general taxation revenue and the Government believes that all pensioners should maximise their private income before calling on taxpayer funded support.
Australian citizens who do not qualify for an Indian pension under the Agreement, can apply for a refund of their contributions. This includes any contributions paid for periods before the start of the Agreement. Refunds are payable when the person departs India. There are separate application forms for the employee’s contributions to the Provident Fund (Form 19) and for the employer’s contributions to the Employees’ Pension Scheme (Form 10C). Forms can be obtained from the Department of Human Services (see contact details below) or can be downloaded from the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation, India website.
When you claim an Australian pension you need to complete a claim form and provide documents to prove your identity and periods of residence in Australia.
If you claim an Australian pension while living in India, you will still need to prove your identity along with proof of previous Australian residence to the Indian authorities.
Australian pension for a person living in India
The amount of Australian pension payable to someone living in India is affected by:
- the duration of their Australian Working Life Residence; and
- the person’s (and their partner’s) income and assets.
A full pension, subject to the income and assets tests, is payable to a person with 45 years 'Australian Working Life Residence' (AWLR). AWLR is the period of Australian residence between the age of 16 and Age Pension age. For example, a person who has lived in Australia from age 30 to age 50 has 20 years of Australian Working Life Residence and may, after reaching pension age, be paid 20/45ths of a means-tested Australian Age Pension in India.
Australian pension for a person living in Australia
Generally to qualify for Australian Age Pension a claimant must have lived in Australia for at least 10 years. People who have lived in Australia for less than 10 years and who have at least 12 months AWLR accrued before Indian pension age (currently 58 years) can include their Indian insurance periods to help meet this requirement. During this time (until a person has ten years residence in Australia) they will be paid the normal income and asset tested pension rate less the amount of any Indian pension they receive. Only insurance periods in India accrued after 1 January 2016 can be counted.
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 India, the Department of Human Services will pay it into your nominated Indian bank account every 4 weeks.
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.