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SS Guide Contents Using the Guide What's New 1 Key Terms & Principles 2 Claim Verification 3 Qualification & Payability 4 Income & Assets 5 Payment Rates 6 Reviews, Debts & Payment Recovery 7 Portability & CFP 8 Administration Act Provisions 9 Visas, Entitlements & Assurances of Support 10 Australian Social Security Agreements 11 Income Management Acronym List Keyword Index Act Section Index Site Map

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7.1.2.20 Portability Table

Summary

For recipients who are covered by an international social security agreement, see 1.1.A.120 and 7.1.1.20.

 

The following table shows for how long and under what conditions payments are portable.

Payment

Recipient

Absence

Period

Special conditions

Age

All

Any

Unlimited

All former residents (7.1.4) have a 24 month waiting period before their pension is portable outside Australia.

 

Payment may be proportionalised (7.2.2.10) after 26 weeks overseas absence.

DSP

All (except severely and permanently impaired and no future work capacity)

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

Severely disabled DSP recipients who are in the terminal phase of a terminal illness can have unlimited portability if they are departing permanently to their country of origin, or to be with, or near, a family member. Terminal phase of a terminal illness means a life expectancy of less than 2 years. A person granted unlimited portability may be proportionalised (7.2.2.10) after a 26 week overseas absence.

 

SSAct section 1218AA Unlimited portability period for disability support pension-terminally ill overseas disability support pensioner

SS Guide 3.6.2.20 Manifest Grants & Rejections for DSP

 

Severely disabled DSP recipients may be entitled to a discretionary portability extension if they have a family member who has been posted overseas for work.

 

SSAct section 1218AB Extended portability period for disability support pension

 

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of DSP will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number is respect to a full-time Australian apprenticeship remains current.

 

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

 

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

 

All former residents (7.1.4) have a 24 month waiting period before their pension is portable outside Australia.

DSP

Recipients with severe and permanent impairment and no future work capacity

Any

Indefinite

From 1 July 2012 DSP recipients with a severe and permanent impairment and no future work capacity are eligible for indefinite portability of their pension. A DSP recipient may be granted indefinite portability if the JCA indicates that, based on the evidence and the assessor's professional opinion, it is unlikely they will have any capacity to undertake work in the open employment market at or above the relevant minimum wage in the next 5 years, even with interventions. DSP recipients applying for portability under these provisions are required to undergo an assessment of their impairment and their future work capacity in Australia prior to departure.

 

SSAct section 1218AAA Unlimited portability period for disability support pension-severely impaired disability support pensioner

SS Guide 7.1.2.10 General Rules of Portability, 7.1.1.10 Overview of Portability Legislation

WP

Entitled person (1.1.E.120)

Any

Unlimited

Payment may be proportionalised (7.2.2.10) after 26 weeks overseas absence.

WP

Other than entitled person

Any

Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of WP will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number in respect to a full-time Australian apprenticeship remains current.

 

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

 

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

CP

All

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of CP will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number in respect to a full-time Australian apprenticeship remains current.

 

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

 

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

 

Important: Also see 3.6.4.80 Qualification for CP during Overseas Travel - Carer travels without the care receiver.

 

Note: A carer accompanying a DSP recipient with terminal illness should be regarded as going overseas for a temporary period and therefore may be entitled to 6 weeks portability.

Payment

Recipient

Absence

Period

Special conditions

BVA

All

Any

Unlimited

All former residents (7.1.4) have a 24 month waiting period before their pension is portable outside Australia.

WidB

Entitled person (1.1.E.120)

Any

Unlimited

Payment may be proportionalised (7.2.2.10) after 26 weeks overseas absence.

WidB

Person other than entitled person

Any

Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of WidB will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number in respect to a full-time Australian apprenticeship remains current.

 

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

 

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

WA

All

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of WA will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number in respect to a full-time Australian apprenticeship remains current.

 

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

 

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

PP

All

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

Portable for the duration of absence for Reserves service.

 

SSAct section 1218A Exception-Reserve service

 

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of PP will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number in respect to a full-time Australian apprenticeship remains current.

 

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

 

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

 

PP is not portable for recipients who were cancelled overseas previously because of portability provisions and who returned to Australia and have not stayed in the country for more than 6 weeks since the last absence.

 

Note: This 6 week return rule does not affect a PP recipient who returns to Australia and then is granted portability under the SSAct section 1218 to undertake study overseas.

 

SSAct section 1218B Exception-waiting period in Australia before parenting payment is portable

Payment

Recipient

Absence

Period

Special conditions

Austudy

All

 

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of Austudy will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number in respect to a full-time Australian apprenticeship remains current.

 

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

 

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course, section 1218A Exception-Reserve service

NSA

NSA recipients

A temporary absence:

- to seek eligible medical treatment

(SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'),

- to attend to an acute family crisis

(section 1212A) or

- for an humanitarian purpose

(section 1212B).

Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.

A recipient has to be exempted from the activity test.

 

SS Guide 3.2.1.10 Qualification for NSA

 

Portable for any length absence for Reserves service

 

SSAct section 1218A Exception-Reserve service

YA

 

Non-full-time students

A temporary absence:

- to seek eligible medical treatment

(SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'),

- to attend to an acute family crisis

(section 1212A), or

- for an humanitarian purpose (section 1212B).

Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.

A recipient has to be exempted from the activity test for the period of absence.

 

Also portable for any length absence for Reserves service.

 

SSAct section 1218A Exception-Reserve service

YA

Full-time students

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the entire period of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of YA (student) will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number in respect to a full-time Australian apprenticeship remains current.

 

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means that a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is more than 6 weeks.

 

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course, section 1218A Exception-Reserve service

Payment

Recipient

Absence

Period

Special conditions

SA

All

A temporary absence:

- to seek eligible medical treatment

(SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'),

- to attend to an acute family crisis

(section 1212A), or

- for an humanitarian purpose

(section 1212B).

Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.

 

SpB

All

See Note.

A temporary absence:

- to seek eligible medical treatment

(SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'),

- to attend to an acute family crisis

(section 1212A), or

- for an humanitarian purpose

(section 1212B).

Amount of time required to deal with the crisis/issue - but cannot continue longer than 6 weeks.

Note: Portability is not available to holders of TPVs. The TPV does not allow the holder to re-enter Australia, so any absence could not be taken to be temporary.

PA

All

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

A recipient whose overseas absence is for the purpose of undertaking overseas study as a part of a full-time Australian course may be paid for the duration of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of PA will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number in respect to a full-time Australian apprenticeship remains current.

 

Full-time students, who are overseas for a temporary study absence as part of their Australian course, can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

 

SSAct section 1218 Exception-full-time students outside Australia for purposes of Australian course

CA

All

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

Note: A carer accompanying a DSP recipient with terminal illness should be regarded as going overseas for a temporary period and therefore may be entitled to 6 weeks portability

MOB

All

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

 

Ancillary Payments

Payment

Recipient

Absence

Period

Special conditions

TAL

All

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

 

RA

All

Any temporary

Same as substantive payment - end of allowable temporary overseas absence

Can be paid up to 26 weeks of a temporary absence to age pensioners, WP ('entitled'), WidB ('entitled') and, from 1 July 2012, DSP recipients with severe and permanent impairment and no future work capacity.

RAA

All

Any temporary

8 weeks allowable absence from remote area

SSAct section 14(2) If a person's usual place of residence…

 

Pension supplement

All

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

People residing in Australia may receive total pension supplement during a temporary absence of up to 6 weeks.

Pension supplement basic amount

All

Any absence

Same as substantive payment

For non-residents and temporary absences over 6 weeks, only the basic amount (GST supplement) of pension supplement can be paid.

IA

All

Any temporary

Same as substantive payment - end of allowable temporary overseas absence

Can be paid up to 26 weeks of a temporary absence to age pensioners, WP ('entitled') and WidB ('entitled').

PhA

All

Any temporary

Same as substantive payment - end of allowable temporary overseas absence

 

UA

All

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

Payable on a test day if a temporary absence from Australia has not exceeded 6 weeks.

 

SS Guide 3.8.13 UA - Qualification & Payability

Seniors supplement

CSHC holders

Any temporary

Up to 6 weeks

Note: A person can only be paid during an overseas absence if they remain qualified for payment.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 1212D Part does not affect need for qualification

 

Portability of Age for recipients with a qualifying residence exemption

Refugees and former refugees are exempted from qualifying residence criterion for Age. As the QRE only applies when the recipient resides in Australia, the pension is portable for TEMPORARY ABSENCES only. If the recipient has not accumulated 10 years of residence before departure and the overseas absence is not temporary, the recipient will not be able to meet the residence criterion and will lose qualification for the pension. Long-term absences that are in reality permanent should be treated as such.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 43 Qualification for age pension, section 94 Qualification for disability support pension, section 7(3) Residing in Australia, section 7(6) Qualifying residence exemption

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.4.1.10 Qualification for Age, 3.6.1.10 Qualification for DSP - 30 Hour Rule, 3.6.1.12 Qualification for DSP - 15 Hour Rule, 3.1.1 Residence Requirements

 

Acute family crisis

A recipient's overseas absence for the purpose of attending to an acute family crisis can be for a limited and specified period of time. The delegate must be satisfied that the absence is:

  • for the purpose of visiting a family member who is critically ill, or
  • for the purpose of visiting a family member who is hospitalised with a serious illness, or
  • for a purpose relating to the death of a family member, or
  • for a purpose relating to a life-threatening situation (other than an illness referred to in the first 2 dot points) that:
    • is facing a family member, and
    • is beyond the control of the family member.

 

If the recipient's circumstances satisfy the acute family crisis criteria then payments may continue only for a reasonable amount of time (up to a maximum of 6 weeks) for the recipient to visit an ill family member, deal with a family member's death or to deal with a life threatening situation.

Example: 2 weeks will normally be sufficient for a recipient to visit a family member who is critically ill or who has been hospitalised with a serious illness.

 

The criteria for an acute family crisis (as provided by the legislation) indicates that, in most cases, the circumstances under which payment can be made while a recipient is overseas will be due to an immediate or emergency family situation.

Example 1: The recipient's family member is currently critically ill.

Example 2: The recipient's family member is hospitalised with a serious illness.

Example 3: The recipient's family member is currently facing a life threatening situation.

Example 4: The recipient's family member has recently died.

 

Where the circumstances relate to the death of a family member, however, and subject to decision maker's satisfaction that the main reason for the travel relates to the death of a family member, consideration can be given to paying the recipient while overseas at any time after the family member's death, even when the travel is not in the period immediately following the death of the family member.

 

Applicable situations where overseas travel might relate to the death of a family member and where the circumstances are not immediate or an emergency, could include the following scenarios:

  • where a funeral or memorial service for the recipient's deceased family member is delayed due to factors outside the recipient's control,
  • where the body of the recipient's deceased family member is found after being missing or is released after being held for purposes relating to a legal investigation, or
  • where the recipient was unfit for travel immediately after the family member's death (the recipient must have sufficient medical evidence to demonstrate that they were unfit for travel at the earlier time).

 

The decision maker may also give consideration to paying the recipient while overseas if the recipient's family member is facing a life threatening situation which is beyond the family member's control.

Example 1: A family member is taken hostage.

Example 2: A family member has been subjected to a creditable threat upon their life.

 

If the recipient's circumstances satisfy the criteria for an acute family crisis, then they may be paid while overseas for a specific negotiated period of no longer than 6 weeks. The length of payment will be restricted to the period of time required for the recipient to deal with the particular acute family crisis.

 

Recipients who wish to remain overseas following an approved visit to provide ongoing care to a family member are no longer considered to be 'visiting' and cease to be payable under this provision.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 1212A Meaning of acute family crisis

 

Humanitarian purpose

A recipient's overseas absence for a humanitarian purpose can be for a limited and specified period of time if the recipient is:

  • involved in custody proceedings,
  • adopting a child,
  • involved in legal proceedings other than those in respect of a crime allegedly committed by the recipient,
  • a formally selected member of the Australian Paralympic Team, for participation as a competitor, at the international athletic competition known as the Paralympic Games, or
  • attending a memorial service that has been approved by the Australian Government to commemorate an event involving the death or serious injury of an Australian resident, if the recipient is the person who was seriously injured at that event, or is a family member of a person who died or was seriously injured at that event.

 

Other legal proceedings include circumstances such as where a recipient is required to appear as a witness.

 

If the recipient's circumstances satisfy the humanitarian purpose criteria, then payments may continue for a specific negotiated period of no longer than 6 weeks. The length of payment will be restricted to the period of time required for the recipient to deal with the particular humanitarian purpose.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 1212B Meaning of humanitarian purpose

Social Security Regulation 2012 section 4 Meaning of humanitarian purpose

 

Eligible medical treatment

Eligible medical treatment, in relation to a recipient, means medical treatment of a kind that is not available to the recipient in Australia. It could include specialised or new types of surgery such as transplants or other kinds of treatment. Such a determination would be guided by the opinions of registered Australian medical practitioners. However, treatment does not necessarily satisfy the definition of eligible medical treatment just because a doctor approves or recommends the treatment. For example, iridology, herbal treatment, faith healing and similar treatments are not considered to be eligible medical treatment.

 

If the recipient's circumstances satisfy the eligible medical treatment criteria, then payments may continue for a specific negotiated period of no longer than 6 weeks. The length of payment will be restricted to the period of time required to complete the treatment, including recuperation and any allowances that must be made for return travel.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 1212-'eligible medical treatment'

 

Recipient class - entitled persons

An entitled person is NOT disqualified for WP or WidB simply because they are absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks.

 

An entitled person is a woman who:

  • was an Australian resident (section 7(2)) for at least 10 years at any time, or
  • is receiving WidB because her legal husband died, or
  • was, or is the partner (1.1.P.70) of a man who was affected by the so called 'Greek conspiracy' allegations.

 

Explanation: In March and April 1978, 181 people were charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth - the so called 'Greek conspiracy allegations'. The charges related to allegations that they had made, or were connected with, fraudulent claims for social security benefits. As well as those charged, many hundreds more had their payments cancelled or suspended because they were believed to have also been related, indirectly, to the 'conspiracy'. Most of the charges of 'conspiracy' were eventually dropped following Committal Hearings or judicial proceedings. Following recommendations by a Committee of Inquiry, it was decided to compensate those affected by the case. Details of those affected are held in the Public Law Branch of DSS.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident is a person who...

 

Recipient class - full-time student

YA portability rules depend on whether a recipient is a full-time student or not.

 

Full-time students going overseas for the purpose of undertaking study as part of their full-time Australian course

Full-time students qualified for YA (student), Austudy, PP, DSP, CP, WA, WP, WidB and PA who are going overseas for the purpose of undertaking study as a part of their full-time Australian course may be paid for the entire duration of the study. If a student is going overseas for this purpose it is a requirement that they provide evidence that their overseas study can be credited towards their Australian course. Students may also access portability provisions for up to a total of 6 weeks at the beginning and/or end of their study.

 

Australian apprentices in receipt of YA (student), Austudy, PP, DSP, CP, WA, WP, WidB and PA will continue to be paid as long as they are working or training overseas in their Australian apprenticeship and their Commonwealth registration number in respect to a full-time new apprenticeship remains current.

 

Nothing in the portability provisions confer a right for a person to continue to be paid overseas if they are not qualified for their payment. It is therefore important to always check that the overseas absence does not interfere with the person remaining qualified for the payment.

 

It is possible that a situation may arise where a student goes overseas at the end of the school year on holiday for a temporary overseas absence. The student is entitled to up to 6 weeks portability before their payment will be suspended. Where a person's payment is suspended, payment can be reinstated with respect to the period that the Secretary is satisfied that the person is absent from Australia for the purpose of undertaking studies as part of their full-time Australian course. Should the student commence their studies prior to the end of their allowable 6 weeks portability period there should be no gap in payment.

Example 1: Raymond is qualified for Austudy full-time and decides to go overseas for a holiday to India. After 4 weeks overseas Raymond contacts Centrelink and says that he wishes to stay overseas to undertake study as part of his Australian course. Raymond is able to provide Centrelink with the relevant documentation showing that his overseas study can be credited towards his full-time Australian course and that his 16-week study period will start immediately. In line with SSAct section 1218(2) Raymond's portability period is able to 'continue' for a further 16 weeks, being for the period of eligible overseas study. In this scenario, Raymond's maximum portability period would end 2 weeks after he ceased studying if he decided to have a further 2 weeks holiday after his approved overseas study.

 

Example 2: Julie is qualified for DSP. Under section 1218(2) Centrelink has granted Julie a 15-week portability period for the purpose of overseas study. At week 14 Julie contacts Centrelink from overseas and asks whether it is possible for her to stay overseas for a further 4-week holiday in Thailand. As Julie's approved overseas study portability period began from the date she left Australia, once she has completed her overseas study she can continue to be paid for up to 6 weeks while she remains outside Australia.

 

Example 3: Noah is qualified for YA (student) and is enrolled as a full-time student at an Australian institution. He is about to commence a student exchange programme at an institution in the UK for one semester. Prior to commencing his study in the UK, Noah holidays for 7 weeks in Spain. His YA (student) is suspended after 6 weeks absence from Australia as his absence at that time is not for the purposes of undertaking studies. At the beginning of week 8 Noah arrives in the UK to commence his studies. Noah's YA (student) should be restored from the beginning of week 8 when Noah commences his approved studies.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 1218(2) The person's right to continue to be paid...

 

Return rules affecting full-time students going overseas for study as part of their full-time Australian course

Full-time students qualified for YA (student), Austudy, PP, DSP, CP, WA, WP, WidB and PA who are going overseas to study as part of their full-time Australian course can return to Australia for a period of up to 6 weeks without affecting the continuity of their portability period. This means a new portability period does not start unless the return to Australia is greater than 6 weeks.

Example: Jon is qualified for YA (student) and is studying a Bachelor of Arts degree full-time at an approved course of education in Australia. He finishes studying in November and remains qualified for YA (student) over the summer break as he intends to go back and finish his Australian course next year. During this hiatus period and while still qualified as a full-time student for YA (student) in relation to his course in Australia he decides to undertake a number of subjects at an overseas university. He is able to provide evidence from his Australian university that these subjects can be credited towards his Australian course. In order to complete these subjects he has been granted a 16 week portability period. After 4 weeks overseas he returns to Australia for one week and then departs overseas again. Because Jon returned to Australia for less than 6 weeks his portability period is not affected. He still has 11 weeks left before his portability period in relation to his overseas study absence finishes. Provided he continues to meet other eligibility criteria, Jon remains entitled to a total of up to 6 weeks portability, not including his time undertaking eligible overseas study. To ensure that his payment is not suspended, Jon should advise Centrelink in the event that he is going to utilise any of the 6 weeks of portability on additional travel.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 1218(3) If the person returns to Australia for a period of 6 weeks or less...

 

Portability extension for DSP recipients whose family member is posted overseas for work

The legislation allows for a portability extension in circumstances where the person is receiving DSP and has a family member who has been posted overseas for work. The conditions under which a portability extension can be permitted for this purpose is specified in SSAct section 1218AB, and requires that all of the following qualifying circumstances must exist:

  • The person is severely disabled.
  • The person is receiving DSP.
  • The person is wholly or substantially dependent on a family member of the person.
  • The person will be living with the family member of the person throughout the period of absence.
  • The family member of the person is engaged in employment in Australia for an employer immediately before the start of the period of absence.
  • The family member of the person will be engaged in employment outside Australia for the same employer throughout the period of absence.

 

A portability extension for this purpose should be for a defined period taking account of the length of the overseas posting. In most cases the extension period will not exceed 3 years. If a DSP recipient returns to Australia for a short visit during their extended portability period this return will not affect their extension period and a new decision is not required on a subsequent departure within this existing extension period.

 

In limited circumstances it may be possible for a person to be granted another extension at the end of their portability period. This could happen where the family member has their overseas posting extended. In these cases care should be taken to ensure that the DSP recipient continues to meet the residency qualification requirements for DSP.

 

The table below explains portability extension for DSP recipients whose family member is posted overseas.

Situation

Description

The person is severely disabled.

To determine whether a DSP recipient is severely disabled refer to 1.1.S.110 or SSAct section 23(4B).

The person is receiving DSP.

To be eligible for a portability extension under this provision a person must be receiving DSP. This provision is not available to DSP recipients whose payments have already ceased whilst outside Australia. However, if a retrospective decision is being made giving the person continuous entitlement for the period of absence from Australia then their payment can be restored and arrears paid as long as there is no break in entitlement.

Example 1: Sharon is on DSP and has travelled to Chile with her mother. Her mother works for the DFAT and has been posted to work at the Australian Embassy in Santiago for 1 year. Her DSP is suspended 6 weeks after she left Australia. Even though Sharon's DSP has ceased, she qualifies for an extension because she is living with her mother who she is substantially dependent on. Sharon's DSP can be restored from the suspension date because there is no break in entitlement.

 

Example 2: Trevor is in receipt of DSP and has been holidaying with friends in Bali for 4 months. Trevor's DSP stopped 6 weeks after he left Australia, so he has already been off payment for 3 months. Trevor's father works in Australia for a finance company that is opening a new branch in London. Trevor will be joining his father in London for the duration of his father's 6 month posting there. Trevor's DSP cannot be restored as he did not qualify for this extension whilst he was in receipt of DSP.

The person is wholly or substantially dependent on a family member of the person.

Wholly or substantially dependent means that the family member provides ongoing care and attention or manages the financial affairs of the DSP recipient. It will also include situations where the DSP recipient is subject to a guardianship order and is in the legal care of the family member. Ordinarily the DSP recipient would be living in Australia with the family member who they are dependent on prior to commencement of the posting outside Australia.

Example: Josh is a severely disabled DSP recipient who lives with his sister in her house in Australia. Whilst Josh is severely disabled he doesn't require 24 hour care, but he is dependent on his sister to provide his accommodation, food, and emotional support. Josh is considered to be substantially dependent on his sister.

 

The definition of a family member is provided in SSAct subsection 23(14) or 1.1.F.60. A family member includes the partner, parent, sibling, or a child of the relevant person. It may also include any other person who, in the opinion of the Secretary, should be treated for the purposes of this definition as a partner, parent, sibling or child of the relevant person. This may cover situations such as stepchildren or foster children.

The person will be living with the family member of the person throughout the period of absence.

A DSP recipient is living with a family member if they are part of the same household and share the same accommodation. A person can still be regarded as living together even though they may occasionally spend some time apart. For example, the DSP recipient may wish to visit friends while overseas. However, this would not break the continuity of the relationship as long as the DSP recipient ordinarily shares the same accommodation as the family member during the absence.

Example: Mel receives DSP and is in Spain with her daughter who has been posted to work there for a period of 2 years. Mel decides to travel to the UK for 2 weeks to visit a friend. As she is ordinarily living with and still substantially dependent on her daughter and only away for a short period, her payment may continue under this provision. If Mel decided to stay on in the UK with her friend for a longer period, her circumstances would need to be reviewed to assess if she is still living with and substantially dependent on her daughter.

- The family member of the person is engaged in employment in Australia for an employer immediately before the start of the period of absence, and

- The family member of the person will be engaged in employment outside Australia for the same employer throughout the period of absence.

This provision is intended to cover DSP recipients whose family member has been posted overseas for work. It does not include situations where a family member is going overseas to take up work for a new employer.

 

The key consideration is to ensure that the family member is currently employed in Australia and is taking up an appointment overseas with the same employer.

Example: Cathy works for the Australian Defence Force in Australia, so she is a federal government public servant. She takes up a position to work for DFAT in Cambodia for 18 months. Cathy would be considered to be working for the same employer.

 

A person is engaged in employment if they are under a contract of service to an employer and ordinarily receive employment income from remunerative work undertaken by the person. Employment income includes (but is not limited to): salary, wages, commissions, fringe benefits, bonus payments, leave payments etc. A person is not engaged in employment if they are in receipt of supported wages. Volunteers and missionaries are not regarded as being engaged in employment unless they can provide evidence that they are under a contract of service and receive monetary remuneration for their work. A person engaged in employment will need to provide acceptable evidence such as a letter from their employer to confirm their current place of employment and overseas posting. A person who takes leave without pay from their work would still be considered to be engaged in employment provided they are still employed by the same employer.

 

The word employer means a person who pays or is liable to pay any salary or wages to an employee. In general, this provision does not extend to a person that is self-employed or working as a private contractor unless they can provide evidence of a continuing relationship between their work in Australia and overseas.

Example: Phil is a self-employed shipwright who specialises in renovating old fishing boats and does the majority of his work for the same shipping company in Australia. This company has requested that Phil be based in Indonesia for the next 18 months to refurbish some vessels they have purchased. Although Phil is self-employed he is able to provide evidence of his ongoing contractual arrangements with this company. Although Phil is self-employed he would be considered to be working overseas for the same employer as in Australia.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident is a person who..., section 23(4B) For the purposes of this Act, a person is severely disabled if:..., section 23(14) For the purposes of this Act...a family member..., section 1218AB Extended portability period for DSP

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.1.10 Residence Requirements, 3.6.1.50 Payability of DSP

 

Portability under international social security agreements (1.1.A.120)

Some DSP, CP, PPS, WP and WidB recipients who go to a country with which Australia has an international social security agreement may be transferred and paid under the agreement. Some agreements allow for longer or shorter portability of these payments than the domestic legislation, for example New Zealand.

 

Not all agreements cover these payment types. Agreements generally have more limited categories of people covered. Check each agreement for the payments and types of persons covered.

Example: PPS and WidB are only available to people whose partner has died and sometimes only to women whose legal husband died.

 

A new claim does NOT need to be lodged to affect the transfer. If the transfer is approved, the new pension will be paid at a rate set by the agreement.

 

No new grants of WP are possible after 1 July 1995, or WidB after 20 March 1997, but transferring to the same pension category under an agreement does NOT constitute a new grant.

Example: A recipient who is in an agreement country and ceases to qualify for DSP after being absent from Australia for 6 weeks, may be eligible to transfer to an agreement DSP payment if the agreement provides for it.

 

Policy reference: SS Guide Part 10 Australian Social Security Agreements

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Last reviewed: 10 February 2014


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