Social security benefits
For New Zealanders living in Australia, issues around eligibility for social security benefits are complicated. In addition to meeting standard criteria, eligibility depends on their visa status.
Special Category Visa holders (the visa granted on arrival to most New Zealanders) who arrive in Australia after 26 February 2001 cannot access the full range of Centrelink social security payments including payments such as the unemployment benefit (‘Newstart Allowance/Youth Allowance’), the parenting payment, the special benefit and the sickness allowance.
Those SCV holders who have lived in Australia for at least 10 continuous years since 26 February 2001 may be eligible to receive Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance or Sickness Allowance for a one-off period of payment for up to 6 months. While a New Zealand citizen is on this short term income support in Australia, they will also have access to employment services under Job Services Australia (external link), providing they meet the same eligibility requirements as other job seekers. Eligibility for this assistance will cease when the job seeker loses eligibility for these allowances.
New Zealanders on a SCV who arrived in Australia between 26 February 2001 and 19 February 2016 may be eligible to apply for Australian permanent residence and then citizenship under the new dedicated pathway for New Zealanders (external link).
All Australian employers pay superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees. The current contribution rate is 9.5%. The rate has been legislated to gradually increase reaching 12% from 1 July 2019. These contributions cannot be accessed until New Zealanders meet a condition of release being "retirement" or attaining "preservation age" among others.
If they return to New Zealand permanently after becoming eligible to withdraw their superannuation, New Zealanders can have this amount paid into a New Zealand bank account. For further information contact your superannuation fund.
The Trans-Tasman Retirement Savings Portability Scheme enabls Australian and New Zealand citizens living in Australia who leave Australia indefinitely to either access their superannuation benefits on their departure (if eligible) or to move their superannuation benefits to a KiwiSaver scheme. For further information visit the Trans-Tasman Retirement Savings Portability Scheme webpage on the Australian Taxation Office (external link) website.
New Zealanders who have lived in Australia but since returned to New Zealand should check with the Australian Taxation Office whether they have any lost or unclaimed superannuation. Click on the links below for further information:
- Media release: Unclaimed money and lost super now properly protected (external link)
- Australian Taxation Office: Keeping track of your super (external link)
- Australian Securities & Investments Commission: Find lost and ATO-held super (external link)
Social Security Agreement
Non-protected SCV holders (most New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001) can also access the social security benefits covered by the Australia New Zealand Social Security Agreement (external link).
Old Age Pension
New Zealanders who are 65 or older and live in Australia may be eligible for both an Australian age pension and NZ superannuation, depending on the amount of their working life they spent in each country.
Australian age pensions are income and asset tested, so any income or assets a New Zealander has will affect the amount of Australian age pension payable. In addition, the rate of New Zealand Superannuation payable in Australia cannot exceed the amount of Australian Age Pension that would be payable if the New Zealander was entitled to receive an Australian Age Pension but was not entitled to receive New Zealand Superannuation. This means that where a New Zealander cannot receive the Australian Age Pension because their income and assets exceed the limits, that person cannot receive New Zealand Superannuation in Australia.
To qualify for a pension, a New Zealander must have been resident in either Australia or New Zealand for at least 10 years of their working life (between the ages of 20 and 65). To apply for a pension, a New Zealander must be able to provide proof of their identity (see Proof of Identity (external link) section of the Centrelink website) and their Australian residence (eg tax records). For further information contact Centrelink. (external link)
Disabled New Zealanders living in Australia may be eligible to receive both a Disability Support Pension in Australia, and an Invalids (Severely Disabled) Benefit from New Zealand, depending on the amount of time the person has been resident in each country. To qualify for an Australian disability support pension and an Invalids (Severely Disabled) Benefit a New Zealander must be severely disabled and unable to work for more than 8 hours per week. For further information contact Centrelink. (external link)
If a New Zealander is eligible to receive the Australian pension, then Centrelink will tell them to also apply for a New Zealand benefit. If a person is not eligible for an Australian disability pension, then they are probably not eligible for a New Zealand benefit.
Carers of disabled New Zealanders living in Australia may also claim an Australian Carers Payment, provided they are the partner of a person who qualifies for the Australian Disability Support pension. Parents who are not protected SCV holders and are carers of a disabled child are not eligible for the Carers Payment.
New Zealand Veterans living in Australia are able to access a New Zealand War Disablement Pension for any disabilities that are attributable to, or were aggravated by, their war service. They are also entitled to free medical care for those disabilities. New Zealand veterans can also access assistance through the Veterans Affairs New Zealand Case Management service (external link).
New Zealand veterans may also be entitled to an income support pension from the Australian Government. For further information contact the Department of Veterans' Affairs (external link) or Veterans' Affairs New Zealand (external link). The Welfare Officer of the local Returned and Services League (RSL) (external link) sub branch may also be able to assist.
Other Social Security Benefits
New Zealanders living in Australia may be able to claim other social security benefits including the Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit, Maternity payment, Rent assistance, a low income Health Card, Parenting Payment and Commonwealth Senior’s Health Care Card. For further information contact Centrelink. (external link)
New Zealand Government offices in Australia have no funds to assist New Zealanders in financial difficulty. New Zealand agencies such as Work and Income NZ (external link) are unable to pay emergency benefits to assist people outside New Zealand.