Australian Social Welfare Payment for New Migrants

One of the most common and important questions that we have received from our clients is if they are eligible for certain types of social welfare, such as pension, medicare, parental leave, job seeker etc. For most of the welfare payments, new migrants will need to wait for a period of time (from 1 to 10 years) to be eligible.

This article aims to provide you with a summary of waiting periods for welfare payments for new migrants in Australia.

Medicare Benefits

Medicare is the designed for the Australian Government to help Australian and certain visa holders with the cost of their health care. Medicare covers:

  • Health check-up
  • Medicine
  • Mental health
  • Screening, tests and scans
  • Other chronic disease treatment.

If you have applied for or being granted a certain type of visa as listed below, you are eligible to enrol in Medicare immediately.

Reciprocal Heath Care Agreements

You might be eligible to enrol in Australian Medicare, and be covered overseas if you are from a country which has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia. Those countries include:

  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

To be eligible for Age Pension you must:

  • be Age Pension age
    • On 1 July 2021, Age Pension age increased to 66 years and 6 months for people born from 1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956, inclusive
    • If your birthdate is on or after 1 January 1957, you’ll have to wait until you turn 67. This will be the Age Pension age from 1 July 2023.
  • Meet Residence Rules: To get Age Pension you generally need to have been an Australian resident for at least 10 years in total. For at least 5 of these years, there must be no break in your residence. You are exempt from this requirement if you are:
    • a refugee or former refugee
    • On another payment
    • Woman whose partner died
    • Lived or worked overseas in an agreement country
  • Meet income test: your pension is reduced by 50 cents for each dollars over AUD 180 if you earn over AUD 180 per fortnight for single, or over AUD 320 per fortnight for couple.
  • Meet assets test.
Other Social Welfare Payments

The newly arrived resident’s waiting period (NARWP) is time spent in Australia as an Australian resident. This means, if you travel overseas, the time you’re away from Australia won’t count towards the waiting period.

New residents may have to wait up to 4 years before they can:

  • get most of our payments
  • use most of our services.

A maximum 2 year waiting period applies if you’re the holder of either:

  • an Orphan Relative visa (subclass 117 or 837)
  • a Remaining Relative visa (subclass 115 and 835).

Proposed Changes from 1 July 2022

In May 2021, the Australian Government said it wanted to change the law for migrants granted a relevant permanent or temporary visa on or after this measure begins. The start date will be 1 January or 1 July after the legislation passes.

If Australia adopts these new laws, newly arrived residents will have to wait 4 years(instead of 2 years as current law) before they can get carer payments and family payments.

Exemption to the waiting period

You may not have to wait the newly arrived resident’s waiting period if you’re 1 of these:

  • an Australian citizen
  • a refugee or former refugee
  • a holder of a certain visa subclass and claim certain payments.

You may also not have to wait if you’re a family member of a refugee or humanitarian migrant. This is if you’re a family member at both times when:

  • that person arrived in Australia
  • you claim a payment or concession.

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