Questions and Answers on the Social Security Agreement between Australia and the Hellenic Republic (Greece)
Note: The following information is provided as a guide only. People should contact Centrelink International Services on 131 673 for specific information relating to their circumstances.
- When did the Agreement start?
- What benefits are covered by the Agreement?
- How does the Agreement help people?
- Do I have to claim a Greek pension?
- How will my Greek pension affect my Australian pension?
- How is the Australian pension worked out for Greek residents?
- Why are there two different calculations for Greek residents?
- How do I claim?
- Will people still be able to receive refunds of Australian Superannuation contributions?
- Who should I contact for more information?
When did the Agreement start?
What benefits are covered by the Agreement?
How does the Agreement help people?
The Agreement helps people in either country to satisfy the minimum qualifying residence period for an Australian pension and the minimum qualifying insurance period for a Greek pension. Periods of residence in Australia and periods of insurance in Greece can be added together to qualify for Australian and Greek pensions.
The Agreement also eliminates the need for double contributions when Australians are sent to work temporarily in Greece, or when Greek employees are sent to work temporarily in Australia. For Australia, this affects the Superannuation Guarantee.
Do I have to claim a Greek pension?
If you are receiving an Australian Age Pension and may be entitled to a Greek old age pension, Australian law requires that you take action to apply for a Greek old age pension.
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How will my Greek pension affect my Australian pension?
Australian Age Pensions are subject to income and assets tests, whether you live in Australia or another country. You must tell Centrelink about all income you receive from sources in Australia or any other country and about assets you hold in any country. If you have a partner you must also tell Centrelink about your partner's income and assets.
If your Greek pension and any other income you have is less than the 'free area' (at 1 October 2008 $138 per fortnight for single pensioners and $240 per fortnight combined for couples), your Australian Age Pension will not be affected. Amounts over this will reduce the Australian Pension by 40 cents (or 20 cents for each member of a couple) for each dollar of income (including Greek old age pension).
Australia has a 10 year qualifying period of residence for Age Pension. A person who lives in Australia with less than 10 years of Australian residence may qualify for an Australian pension by adding periods of insurance in Greece. However, until these people have lived in Australia for 10 years, one dollar will be deducted from their Australian pension for each dollar of Greek pension received.
How is the Australian pension worked out for Greek residents?
Under the Agreement Australian residents who return to live permanently in Greece after 1 October 2008 can claim a means-tested Australian Age Pension based on their working life residence in Australia over a denominator of 25 years.
People already living permanently in Greece before 1 October 2008 can claim an Australian Age Pension, based on the proportion of their total working life (for this purpose considered to be 44 years) spent in Australia.
The income and assets tests operate in the same way for residents of both Greece and Australia.
Why are there two different calculations for Greek residents?
Australia's social security system is a non contributory system that does not require a person to have worked or paid taxes in Australia. It is based on the concepts of residence and need and paid out of general revenue/taxes.
The formula for calculating Australian pensions was discussed for many years and formally accepted by the Greek Government through the signing of an MOU in October 2005 after consulting with community representatives.
Can military service in Greece be counted towards Greek insurance periods?
How do I claim?
Claims forms are available from and may be lodged with Centrelink or your local Greek pension fund. It is important that claims are lodged promptly as the Australian Age Pension and some Greek old age pension payments cannot be backdated.
Will people still be able to receive refunds of Australian Superannuation contributions?
People who worked in Australia on 'eligible temporary resident visas' can still apply for refunds of their accumulated superannuation benefit when they leave Australia.
The Greek system does not allow for refunds of contributions to their system.
Who should I contact for more information?
More information can be obtained by phoning Centrelink International Services, Australia between 0800 and 1700 hours Australian Eastern Standard Time, Monday to Friday:
13 1673 (for the cost of a local call from within Australia)
0080 0611 26209 (call direct free of charge from Greece)
+61 3 6222 3455 (from any country. You may reverse the charge by asking your local telephone operator.)
Useful internet sites: