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Social Security and Welfare

Australia - Social Security and Welfare


If you feel that you are entitled to social security benefits in Australia but your application is turned down you can apply to have the decision reviewed. Appeals are overseen by an Authorised Review Officer. Appeals can be a three stage process if necessary, with further appeals being heard by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and then on to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Australia has a vast array of benefits and allowances which are available for various reasons and the details can be found on the Centrelink website and further advice can be obtained from their enquiry centre.

Most of the benefits are means tested and are paid out to those who are ill, elderly, disabled, unemployed or on low incomes. Assets such as valuable antiques, houses, cars and other property do not count when the means test is carried out. If you are new to the country you must wait for 2 years before you are eligible for benefits, apart from the Medicare system, a widow’s allowance if applicable and some special benefits. Depending upon the circumstances, the sponsor of a migrant may have to agree to repay any benefits claimed during the initial 2 year period.

Australia does have some international social security agreements in place with other countries so that their citizens can continue to claim benefits while making the move to Australia. Agreements are currently in place with a number of European nations including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Other countries with agreements include Chile, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the USA. Australia is also negotiating agreements with several other countries. The agreement that was in place for the UK expired in 2001 and those who are claiming benefits in the UK before they move will need to liaise with the UK government department of work and pensions prior to their move. These agreements cover pensions, carer’s allowance and payments for single parents.

Under the terms of the agreements each country will pay part of the pension but amounts will vary depending upon your entitlement in your home country. If you need to claim pension monies under the terms of one of these agreements then you can apply via Centrelink.

Benefits can be paid in a number of categories. If you need to care for an elderly or sick person you may be able to claim an allowance for this and there are benefits if you are unemployed, in cases of bereavement, if you are sick or if you are retired. A complete list of benefits, along with the details of who may qualify and how much you can expect as a payment, is available from the Centrelink website. There are telephone numbers listed for all the different departments of the organisation.

The general social security system is not financed by separate contributions from individuals but it is taken from general taxes. Contributions are payable for retirement, death and invalidity benefits as well as the Medicare system. If you earn at least $450 each month and are over the age of 18 but under the age of 70 your employer will need to pay a minimum of 9% in ‘super’, which is short for superannuation. This needs to be placed in a retirement savings account or fund which has been chosen by the worker. The contributions are set to rise each year until 2019 which will have a minimum payment of 12%.

It is also possible for the worker to make voluntary contributions. Concessional contributions of up to $50,000 each year can be made by the worker and these are taxed at a rate of 15%. Non-concessional contributions of up to $150,000 from income that has already been taxed can be made. If you are self employed then contributions to such a fund do not need to be made, but many will choose to begin a super fund in order to save for retirement.

The social security system gives those with residency status access to the Medicare health system. Taxpayers have to pay a levy for this system, which works out at 1.5% of gross income. Those who have certain medical conditions may be able to apply for some exemptions and those who are not officially residents in the country are not able to take advantage of the Medicare system.


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Expat Health Insurance Partners


Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.

Cigna

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.