NZ Super sent far and wide around world

ROB STOCK
Last updated 05:00 13/04/2013

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Figures submitted to Parliament show the far-flung climes New Zealanders choose to retire to, and the $230 million of NZ Super we send to them.

Our rules allow people to receive NZ Super overseas, and by far the biggest chunk of our pensions exporting is to Australia, with Netherlands, the Cook Islands and Canada being the distant second, third and fourth most likely places for NZ Super to be paid to.

Data sent to the Social Security Select Committee shows that, as of August 30, 2012, the annualised value of NZ Super exports was $230,342,322 with 34,783 recipients living in 27 countries.

Of those people 31,069 - or 89 per cent - were resident in Australia.

The rules let retirees travel abroad for up to 26 weeks and not have their NZ Super payments cut, with some flexibility for unforseen circumstances preventing their timely return.

Those who choose to live overseas, providing they apply and qualify for NZ Super before they go, can get a proportion of NZ Super paid to them, with the amount dependent on how long they spent in New Zealand between the ages of 20 and 65.

That means the average amount per person exported is often quite small, such as the $4818 average exported to the 63 eligible retirees now living in Denmark.

There are some special arrangements for people retiring to 22 specified Pacific countries, and they can recieve the full NZ Super, hence the high average payment of $16,365 to the 178 retirees in Samoa, and the average of $16,548 paid to the 27 recipients in Tonga.

Some social security agreements between New Zealand and other countries allow for NZ Super to be paid up 100 per cent in value.

Some people find that retiring overseas means they are better off thanks to uneven - some claim unjust - deductions New Zealand makes from the overseas state pensions paid to recipients of NZ Super here.

Bob Stevens, a Canadian, has long campaigned against what he sees as the injustice of having his two Canadian and one Irish pensions deducted to help foot the bill for paying him NZ Super.

In a paper Stevens presented at a retirement policy forum in Auckland in 2010, he said he would have been better off by $350 a week if he moved back to Canada.

On Thursday the National MPs on Parliament's Social Security Select Committee voted down a proposal to have an inquiry into the deductions policy, which has caused much anguish.

The committe said in its report: "The New Zealand Labour Party, the Green Party, and New Zealand First are of the view that the information received confirmed that an inquiry was warranted.

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"The majority of the committee, while sympathetic to the anomalies in the system, decided not to initiate an inquiry. Prevailing fiscal constraints were also a consideration in this decision."

The UK is not shown among the 27 countries, as New Zealanders retiring to the UK are able to access UK benefits under the social security agreement between the two countries.

TOP FIVE

Australia

Number of people: 31,069

Value of NZ Super exported: $196.28 million

Holland

Number of people: 1252

Value of NZ Super exported: $8.37m

Cook Islands

Number of people: 295

Value of NZ Super exported: $5.036m

Canada

Number of people: 659

Value of NZ Super exported: $3.656m

Samoa

Number of people: 178

Value of NZ Super exported: $2.912m

Source: Ministry of Social Development, as at 30 August 2012

- BusinessDay

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