Social Security Agreement between withAustralia and Latvia - 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 was the Agreement signed?

The Agreement was signed on 7 September 2011.

When did the Agreement start?

The Agreement started on 1 January 2013.

What does the Agreement do?

Under the Agreement, Australia and Latvia 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 Latvia. 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 will generally only be subject to the legislation of their home country and would be exempt from making contributions for the same work under the law of the other country.

What benefits are covered by the Agreement?

For Australia, the Agreement covers Age Pension.  For Latvia, the Agreement covers the old age and survivor’s pensions and death benefits.

What are the most important things to know about Australia’s social security system?

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.

Where and how can people lodge claims?

People can lodge a claim for an Australian or Latvian pension in either country. Claim forms are available from, and can be lodged with, Centrelink or the Latvian State Social Security Agency (VSAA).

Do I need to claim a pension from Latvia?

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.

What documents do I need to make a claim?

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 Latvia, you will still need to prove your identity along with proof of previous Australian residence to the Latvian authorities.

How much pension will I get if I am paid under the Agreement?

Australian pension for a person living in Latvia

The amount of Australian pension payable to someone living in Latvia is affected by:

  • the duration of their Australian Working Life Residence; and
  • the person’s (and their partner’s) income and assets.

For claims made since 1 July 2014, a full pension, subject to the income and assets tests, is payable to a person with 35 years 'Australian Working Life Residence'. (This 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 20/35ths (57%) of a means-tested Australian Age Pension in Latvia.  

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 can include their Latvian 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 Latvian pension they receive.

How are pensions and benefits paid?

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 Latvia, the Department of Human Services will pay it into your nominated Latvian bank account every 4 weeks. Payments to customers in Latvia are in Euros.

Who should I contact for more information?

For more information on claim procedures and payments:

For policy information, contact the Department of Social Services (complaints@dss.gov.au).

For more information on how the Agreement will assist seconded workers, contact the Australian Taxation Office or the Latvian State Social Security Agency (VSAA).

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