Social Security Agreement with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Frequently Asked Questions
Note: Information is available in the Macedonian language on the official website of the Macedonian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. It can be accessed on the following link:
When did the Agreement start?
The Agreement commenced on 1 April 2011.
What benefits are covered by the Agreement?
For Australia, the Agreement covers Age Pension. For the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Agreement covers old age, disability and survivors' benefits.
The Agreement does not cover health care and makes no changes to medical insurance coverage in either country.
How does the Agreement help people?
Under the Agreement, Australia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia broadly share responsibility for social security coverage of people who would not otherwise be entitled to a pension because they do not have enough residence in Australia or sufficient insurance periods in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. 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 by regulating compulsory contributions for seconded workers. Under the Agreement, seconded employees and/or their employer are generally subject only to the legislation of their home country and therefore exempt from making contributions for the same work under the law of the other country.
What does Australia do under the Agreement?
To qualify for an Australian Age Pension people usually need to be an Australian resident and in Australia on the day they lodge a claim, and they usually must have at least 10 years Australian residence.
The Agreement modifies these rules so that:
- Australia will treat someone who resides in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as being a resident of Australia, so that the person can lodge a claim for an Australian Age Pension;
- Australia will add the person's insurance periods accumulated in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to his or her Australian residence to help the person meet the minimum residence requirement to get an Australian Age Pension;
- Australia guarantees to pay Age Pension indefinitely into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, provided the person remains otherwise qualified to receive it.
What does the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia do under the Agreement?
Normally a person must have a minimum of 15 years of contributions to qualify for an old-age pension from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Under the Agreement:
- people will be able to add periods of Australian Working Life Residence to insurance periods accumulated in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in order to satisfy this requirement;
- people may also be able to include insurance periods accumulated in a third country which has an agreement with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia;
- the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia guarantees to pay its pensions (other than the guaranteed minimum pension) into Australia indefinitely, provided the person remains otherwise qualified to receive it.
Do I need to claim a pension from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia?
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.
How much Australian pension will I get if I am paid under the Agreement?
The income and assets tests operate in the same way for residents of both Australia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. However until an Australian resident has lived in Australia for 10 years, their means-tested pension is reduced by the amount of pension paid by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Australian pensions paid overseas are also paid at a proportional rate reflecting the length of the person’s period of Australian Working Life Residence (AWLR) in Australia. A person’s AWLR is the period of time they have lived in Australia between age 16 and Age Pension age.
Australian residents who return to live in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia can claim a means-tested Australian Age Pension based on their AWLR:
- over a denominator of 35 years (if returning after 1 April 2011); or
- over a denominator of 44 years (if returned before 1 April 2011).
For example, a person with 20 years of Australian Working Life Residence may receive 20/35 of a means-tested Australian pension if they leave Australia after 1 April 2011, or 20/44 if they left Australia before 1 April 2011.
How do I claim?
Claim forms are available from, and can be lodged with, Centrelink or the Pension and Disability Insurance Fund.
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 more information on how the Agreement will assist seconded workers, contact the Australian Taxation Office.