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Filipino Australian pensioners need to familiarise themselves with different centrelink payments

Philippine  Consul of  Sydney Marford Angeles said the Consulate will continue to support the advocacy for  a social security agreement (SSA) between Australia and the Philippines but hopes that Philippine community leaders would also consider the assessment  by Australian Department of  Human Services  representatives that pensioners would  not gain more in terms of  portability and amount  of benefits under a regime of a new social social security agreement.

Consul Angeles  thanked both the organisers  led  Mr Jun Relunia and resource persons of the public forum  held last   Tuesday March 18   at the Freemasons Centre in Blacktown, to clarify issues about portability of  aged pension payments  and the merits of a social security agreement between the two countries.

Mr Relunia had been elected president of the peak body Philippine Communities Council of NSW, three days before the community forum.

Australian government resource speakers during the forum comprising of executives from the Department of Human Services explained  that pensioners traveling outside of Australia would continue to receive their age pension for up to  26 weeks after they left Australia.

After 26 weeks,  Australian government will reassess each case , discontinuing all other social security payments except age pension which will be paid according to what is called as “Australian working life” which basically comprised of one’s residency in Australia from age 16 years old up to age 65 years old.

Those who have achieved 25 years of Australian working life will continue to receive undiminished age pension payments whilst those who reached less than 25 years of Australian working life would receive proportionate payments.

Consul Angeles said there is an apparent need for information campaign among age pension beneficiaries, about  the different types of social security benefits. This covers especially the social security payments, not necessarily age  pension payments which pensioners traveling to the Philippines may eventually lost after sometime.

A specific case revealed a pensioner who reportedly was told she could not stay in the Philippines, else she would lose social security payment, turned out to be referring to a “widowed” pension and not necessarily old age pension.

Mr Relunia was assisted by community leader Mr Bob Lastica who presented alleged cases of pensioners’ being denied payment of pensions for reportedly even shorter period of stay in the Philippines.

It was quite an anticlimactic end to the push by the Philippine community since 2008 to come up with a social security agreement between the Philippines and Australia in the hope of favourable portability of age old pension situations for elderly Filipino-Australians spending longer vacation in the Philippines.

The resource speakers  said after the 26th week,  age pension will continue to be paid for those who had accumulated at least 25 years of what is called as “Australian working life.”