Migrating Pensioners

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There is an interesting trend developing amongst retirees; they are increasingly on the move internationally, not only for holidays but to live overseas permanently or for extended periods. Better health and increased longevity for retirees are factors in this trend, as well as the desire to be close to children and grandchildren living overseas. This raises the issue of mobility of pensions, and it is a remarkably complex one. Your eligibility for a pension while overseas depends on how long you will be away and where you are going. There is generally no problem if you are intending to be away from New Zealand for six months or less, although it is a good idea to let Work and Income know you will be away. If you are planning on travelling for more than six months but with the intention of returning to New Zealand, you will need to make an application to receive your pension while you are away. If you have lived in New Zealand continuously between the ages of 20 and 65, you should receive the full amount of your pension and for lesser periods you will be paid a proportionate amount. For those intending to live overseas, arrangements will depend on where you are going. New Zealand has Social Security Agreements with several countries under which people moving between those countries are entitled to benefits and pensions. For example, if you go to Australia you will be able to receive New Zealand Superannuation for six months and during that time you will need to apply for an Australian Age Pension. This pension is income and asset tested and you may therefore receive less than the rate for NZ Superannuation. Because of the complexity, it pays to do your homework before you set off on your travels.

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