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Eligibility and deduction of overseas pensions

Overseas benefits and pensions* (including periodical allowances) are deductible from New Zealand entitlements if they are paid under a programme that:

  • pays benefits and pensions for similar purposes as those paid in New Zealand, such as old age/retirement, survivor's and disability pensions
  • is administered by, or on behalf of an overseas government.

You and your spouse/partner are legally obliged to apply for any overseas benefit and pension that you may be entitled to if you want to receive New Zealand benefits and pensions.

*Any reference to benefits and pensions also refers to periodical allowances.

Eligibility for overseas benefits and pensions

The rules for getting overseas benefits and pensions are different for each country. Some countries have social security agreements with New Zealand which:

  • may make it easier for you to get an overseas benefit or pension from that country
  • make it easier for you to get a benefit or pension from New Zealand
  • allow you to get benefit or pension from both countries.

If you've spent time living in a country that New Zealand has a social security agreement with, it may be counted as New Zealand residence to allow you to get a New Zealand benefit or pension.

In your New Zealand benefit or pension application form you must advise us of any:

  • time you and your spouse/partner have spent living overseas
  • overseas benefit or pension either of you can claim or receive.

If you or your spouse/partner have lived overseas and are unsure about eligibility, contact us.

Deduction of overseas pensions

The direct deduction of an overseas state-administered benefit or pension reduces New Zealand Superannuation, Veteran’s Pensions and other New Zealand social security benefits on a dollar for dollar basis (section 70 of the Social Security Act 1964). This means that people receive an amount that is equivalent to the amount of one state benefit or pension.

Overseas benefits or pensions funded by voluntary contributions may be deductable under section 70 of the Social Security Act 1964. We assess deductions of overseas pensions on a case by case basis.

When you should apply

We assess clients entitlements on a case-by-case basis. In most situations we will request that clients apply for any overseas benefit or pension that they may be entitled to. The majority of overseas benefits and pensions paid into New Zealand are from countries with which New Zealand has a social security agreement. More information can be found by clicking on the following links:

We can help you apply for benefits or pensions from these countries. We provide application forms, and in most cases, we can contact these overseas agencies on your behalf with your consent.

When you don't need to apply

There are some situations where you will not be asked to apply for an overseas benefit or pension.

If you have lived or worked in an overseas country for less than one year, you do not need to apply for an overseas benefit or pension. This is because most countries require a period of at least one year of residence or contributions before a person becomes entitled to a minimum pension rate.

Similarly, you will not be asked to apply for an overseas benefit or pension when we have determined that:

  • the country does not pay benefits or pensions to people who do not reside there or
  • the only benefits or pensions payable are not deductible under section 70 of the Social Security Act 1964 or
  • it would be considered unreasonable for you to apply.

Spouse/partner obligations

If your spouse/partner receives an overseas benefit or pension it may be deducted from your New Zealand benefit or pension. How the overseas pension will be deducted depends on:

  • whether both of you are receiving a New Zealand benefit or pension in your own right
  • whether you are receiving a married rate of New Zealand benefit or pension for a spouse/partner who does not qualify in their own right.

Payment options

Overseas benefits or pensions are paid using the Direct Payment Method. However if you receive an entitlement from Australia, Ireland, Jersey and Guernsey, the Netherlands or the United Kingdom then you can choose the Special Banking Option.

Review and changes in circumstances

You can ask for a review if you do not agree with any decision we make. Your New Zealand benefit and pension may be reviewed at any time. This applies to individuals and couples.

To ensure you receive your correct entitlement you must keep us up to date with your circumstances. If there are changes to your own or your spouse/partner's living situation, personal details, overseas benefit or pension amount or you go overseas, you need to contact us.

For more information contact Senior Services on 0800 552 002 (Monday to Friday 8am-5pm).

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