While making a move to take control of the Budget deficit, the Abbott Government plans to slash entitlements and initiate a debt tax, all while it secretly supports 7,313 disability pensioners who are living overseas, racking up a bill of close to $99.9 million per year.
Most while away their time in Greece, where 1,242 stay. New Zealand is destination spot number two, having 870, while Turkey and Croatia play host to 849 and 506, respectively.
Asia is also a popular destination for some. Many of these pensioners find their way to Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Bali.
In an attempt to seek clarification on the residency requirements for these pensioners, Social Service Minister Kevin Andrews says, “It concerns me that some DSP recipients may be choosing to live overseas for lifestyle reasons, at the expense of taxpayers.’’
Andrews adds that he is also soliciting departmental advice on a case involving a Melbourne man who is collecting pension from Bali. He states that settling in Bali and its warm weather has helped him deal with a back injury.
In a swift move, the Federal Government has stopped pension payments to those who stay overseas for more than six weeks.
Previous to this, pension recipients only had to step foot in Australia once every 13 weeks in order to keep payments coming. They could reside just about anywhere, allowing them to take advantage of superior retirement home options, suchas as WeKnowAPlace in the US.
As the years have passed, successive governments have tightened the reigns on disability pension payouts, noting 1000 fewer overseas recipients today than 10 years ago.
Currently, about 82,000 pension payments are sent to recipients overseas. Most of these payments are age pensions.
In many of these countries, numbering at least 27, where the pensioners reside, they enjoy reciprocal social security agreements, which helps Australia. However, several disability pensioners reside in countries with which Australia does not enjoy this reciprocation.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has turned down every attempt to strip the disability support for those living overseas. Even if they had missed the Centrelink assessments and were no longer considered Australian residents.
In an attempt to put more restrictions on the system and maintain budget, Mr. Andrews has ordered a review to make recommendations.