Termination of the Social Security Agreement with the UK - Information for Prospective Migrants

Why has Australia terminated the agreement?

Australia has terminated the Agreement because the UK Government refuses to change its policy of not indexing pensions in Australia, even though it does index pensions paid in some countries with which it has Agreements.

The Australian Government has made considerable efforts over the last decade to get the UK to re-negotiate the Agreement to address the indexation problem but the UK has refused all our efforts.

When did the agreement terminate?

The Agreement terminated from 1 March 2001.

How will termination of the agreement affect migrants?

Up until the Agreement terminated migrants to Australia and the UK continued to be granted payments under the Agreement. Those payments will continue as long as the person remains qualified to receive that payment.

Migrants from the UK

Prospective migrants should be aware that now that the Agreement has terminated there will be no early access to Australia's social security system for migrants from the UK. Instead they will have to accrue 10 years qualifying residence before being eligible to claim Australian Age Pension.

Special Benefit

Special Benefit may be available to migrants in Australia who are in financial difficulty and:

  • are ineligible for any other payment; and
  • have resided in Australia for two years (unless they find themselves in hardship and can demonstrate a substantial change of circumstances).

Other social security payments may be available to migrants who are not of Age Pension age, but again only after they have resided in Australia for two years.

If a migrant receives Special Benefit, or certain other payments, while covered by an Assurance of Support , the amount paid will become a debt, regardless of the circumstances that caused the migrant to qualify for Special Benefit.

Australian residents migrating to the UK

Now that the Agreement has terminated, Australian residents migrating to the UK will no longer be able to receive a UK pension or enhanced rate of pension using the provisions of the Agreement. However, The UK Government announced in December 2000 that it will protect the pension position of people who have periods of residence in Australia prior to 5 April 2001. For more information on this contact the UK Department of Social Security.

Permanent residents of the UK (including new migrants) would, under current rules, be able to apply for means-tested income support payments. It is important to note that the amount of any payment they may receive depends on their financial circumstances and eligibility to claims depends on passing the 'habitually resident' test. (More information on UK income support payments can be found on the UK Department of Work and Pensions (www.dss.gov.uk.)

Will I still be able to get my pension from the UK now that the agreement has terminated?

The UK should continue to pay its pensions into Australia as these payments are made under UK domestic law and not the Agreement. Should you have any concerns about this you should contact the UK Department of Work and Pensions (www.dss.gov.uk).

Can I get an Australian pension if I am living in the UK?

Australia will continue to pay its Age Pensions to pensioners going to the UK under it's general portability laws. However, Australia will not grant pensions to people residing in the UK (nor did it prior to the Agreement terminating).

Pensioners planning to travel to the UK (and other overseas countries) should advise their nearest Centrelink office. 

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