Social Security Agreement between Australia and Estonia - Frequently Asked Questions
Note: The following information is provided as a guide only. People should contact Centerlink 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 people can lodge claims?
- Do I need to claim a pension from Estonia?
- What documents do I need to make a claim?
- How much pension will I get if I claim under an Agreement?
- How are pensions and benefits paid?
- How do I find out more?
The Agreement was signed on 14 September 2015 and started on 1 January 2018.
Under the Agreement, Australia and the Republic of Estonia (Estonia) 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 Estonia. 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. For further information about the double coverage provisions that apply, please visit the Australian Taxation Office website.
For Australia, the Agreement covers Age Pension. For Estonia, the Agreement covers State insurance pensions for old-age and survivors’ pensions.
All claimants for Australian Age Pension need to meet minimum age and residence criteria under Australia’s social security laws.
From 1 July 2017, the Age Pension age for men and women is 65.5 years. Pension age will increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 in July 2023 – see the Services Australia webpage - Age Pension for details of Age Pension ages.
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 Services Australia website has information about the current income and assets limits.
People can lodge a claim for an Australian or Estonian pension in either country. Claim forms are available from, and can be lodged with, Services Australia or the Estonian National Social Insurance Board.
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.
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 Estonia, you will still need to prove your identity along with proof of previous Australian residence to the Estonian authorities.
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: The above are only a few of the documents that can be used to prove your identity and your Australian residence. Services Australia is able to provide more information on other acceptable documents to prove your identity and Australian residence.
Note: Claimants for Australian pension who receive an Estonian pension generally have had their identity verified by the Estonian National Social Insurance Board. Australian residence will still have to be verified.
You may also need to provide other information as part of your claim, for example, in relation to your income and assets. Visit the Services Australia website for more information on claiming an Australian Age Pension and the documents required.
Australian pension for a person living in Estonia
The amount of Australian pension payable to someone living in Estonia 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 35 years 'Australian Working Life Residence'. This is the period of Australian residence between the age of 16 and Age Pension age. If a person has less than 35 years Australian Working Life Residence, they will receive a proportional rate based on the period of their Australian residence during their working life. 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 Age Pension age, be paid 20/35ths (57 per cent) of a means-tested Australian Age Pension in Estonia.
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 Estonian 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 Estonian pension they receive.
If you get an Australian pension in Australia, Services Australia will pay it directly into your bank account every 2 weeks.
If you get an Australian pension and you reside permanently in Estonia, Services Australia will pay it into your nominated Estonian bank account every 4 weeks. Payments to customers in Estonia are in Euros.
For more information on claim procedures and payments:
- Contact Centrelink International Services.
- Visit your local Centrelink Customer Service Centre.
- Services Australia Publications - Australia's International Social Security Agreements Factsheets
For more information on how the Agreement will assist seconded workers, contact the Australian Taxation Office.