COVID-19 Information and support

The department is supporting individuals and families affected by COVID-19 through a range of measures, including expanding eligibility and qualification for payments. Visit our information and support page for more information.

Recent policy changes

New Overseas Welfare Recipients Integrity Program from 20 December 2019

From 20 December 2019, Australian pension recipients residing permanently overseas and aged 80 years and over are required to complete a proof of life certificate every two years to continue receiving their pension.

This new requirement applies to Australian pensioners receiving Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, or Carer Payment.

Services Australia (Centrelink) will notify Australian pensioners living overseas by letter if they are required to complete a proof of life certificate.

The proof of life certificate must be verified by an authorised certifier. An authorised certifier can be:

  • a registered/licensed lawyer, solicitor, or barrister
  • a judge or magistrate
  • a registrar of a law court
  • a police officer
  • an Australian Consular Officer or Australian Diplomatic Officer
  • an Authorised Consular Employee
  • a Justice of the Peace
  • a notary public
  • a registered/licensed medical doctor.

Those who do not provide a certified proof of life certificate to Services Australia within 13 weeks of the request will have their pension suspended. If they have not provided their certified certificate after a further 13 weeks (26 weeks in total), their payment will be cancelled.

Pensioners who have their pension suspended or cancelled can have it restored if they provide a certified proof of life certificate to DHS. They will be paid any arrears they are entitled to.

Changes to waiting periods for migrants from 1 January 2019

Migrants granted a permanent visa, or temporary partner visa, on or after 1 January 2019 must wait between one and four years before they can access certain welfare payments and concession cards. This period is called the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period (NARWP).

Information on these changes is provided in the Waiting period for welfare payments for new migrants and Exemptions from the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period fact sheets. These fact sheets are also available in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Korean
  • Nepali
  • Punjabi
  • Simplified Chinese
  • Spanish
  • Thai
  • Traditional Chinese
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese

The current Assurance of Support period that applies to some family visas has also increased to four years, in line with the NARWP for working age payments.

Further information on waiting periods and other residency requirements is provided on the Residence Criteria page.

Enhanced Residency Requirements for Pensioners (2017-18 Budget)

Pending the passage of legislation, to qualify for Age Pension or Disability Support Pension a person will be required to have 10 years continuous Australian residence, with either:

  • five years of this residence being during their working life (16 years of age to Age Pension age); or
  • not have been in receipt of an activity tested income support payment for a cumulative period of greater than five years.

In circumstances where the person does not meet the requirements set out above, they will be required to have 15 years continuous Australian residence before being eligible to receive the Age Pension or Disability Support Pension.

This measure has not commenced.

Stopping the Pension Supplement (2016-17 Budget)

Subject to the passage of legislation, the Pension Supplement Basic Amount will stop after six weeks overseas, or immediately if the recipient has permanently departed Australia.

Currently, the Pension Supplement is reduced to the Basic Amount after six weeks temporary absence from Australia, or immediately for permanent departures.

This measure will affect income support recipients who travel outside Australia temporarily for more than six weeks or immediately if the recipient has permanently departed Australia.

This measure will reinforce and strengthen the residence based nature of Australia’s social security system.

This measure has not commenced.

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