Benefits: Overseas Recipients

House of Lords written question – answered on 9th June 2008.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Crossbench

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which social security and state pension benefits are payable to home addresses or bank addresses outside the United Kingdom; and how much of each benefit is so paid.

Photo of Lord McKenzie of Luton Lord McKenzie of Luton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions) (also in the Department for Communities and Local Government)

The following benefits are payable outside the United Kingdom; state pension, widows benefit and bereavement benefit.

These are payable anywhere in the world, although they are only subject to annual increases in European economic area (EEA) member states and Switzerland, and countries with a reciprocal agreement (RA) with the UK that enables the increases to be paid; for example, the USA, Jamaica.

In other countries, the rate is frozen at either the rate on departure—customers already receiving benefit at the time of their departure to a frozen rate (FR) country—or award (customers already living in an FR country at the time of the award).

Incapacity Benefit (IB)

This is divided into IB short-term (IBST) (paid for the first 52 weeks) and IB long-term (paid from the 53rd week).

IB long-term and severe disablement allowance (SDA) are not exportable under UK national legislation unless persons abroad regulations, EC regulations (for EEA and Switzerland) or reciprocal agreement allowing for export applies.

The persons abroad regulations—benefit is not payable on permanent absences. It can be paid for up to 26 weeks in certain circumstances provided the absence is temporary.

The EC regulations (EEA/Switzerland)—benefit is fully exportable for the duration of the entitlement.

Reciprocal agreement (RA) countries—IBLT can be paid, subject to the particular agreement. SDA is not exportable under RAs.

Incapacity Benefit Short-Term (IBST) and Maternity Allowance (MA)

These are not exportable under UK national legislation unless persons abroad regulations, EC regulations (for EEA and Switzerland) or reciprocal agreement allowing for export applies.

Persons abroad regulations—not payable on permanent absences. It can be paid for up to 26 weeks in certain circumstances provided the absence is temporary. It is not payable for incapacities beginning in the other country.

EC regulations (EEA/Switzerland)—for IB short-term and maternity allowance can be considered for incapacities beginning in another state if the UK is responsible for the claim.

EC regulations (EEA/Switzerland)—for IBST is exportable in certain circumstances for a period of 52 weeks (followed by IBLT at week 53), MA for 39 weeks.

Reciprocal agreement (RA) countries—can be considered for incapacities beginning in the other country, subject to the particular reciprocal agreement. Can be paid subject to the particular RA.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)

This may be exported and paid for any period during which a customer is absent from the UK, regardless of the country they are visiting or residing in.

Contributory Jobseekers Allowance

Customers who are getting contribution-based jobseekers allowance in the UK may be able to carry on getting it for up to three months while they look for work elsewhere in the EEA.

Winter Fuel Payments (WFP)

This is payable only to customers living in the EEA/Switzerland where entitlement arose before the customer left the UK.

Disability Living Allowance (Care Component), Attendance Allowance and Carer's Allowance (DLA, AA, CA)

These are all residence-based benefits. In general, a customer is required to be ordinarily resident and present in the UK, to have been present for at least 26 out of the previous 52 weeks and not be subject to immigration control. There are some exceptions under domestic law and, following the European Court of Justice judgment C-299/05, payment can be made under EC law to customers living in another EEA member state or Switzerland in certain circumstances.

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Peter Morris
Posted on 10 Jun 2008 1:29 pm (Report this annotation)

Lord McKenzie is a bit frugal with the truth. In addition to the USA and Jamaica, both countries that he quotes as receiving uprated state pensions, he conveniently forgets a number of other countries, even those that are outside of the EU, where they uprate pensions each year. These countries include Switzerland, The Philippines, Croatia, Turkey, Barbados, Bermuda, Malta, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Israel and a number of other countries, totalling 535,000 pensioners.

For historical reasons that are questionable, they will not uprate state pensions paid to 525,000 pensioners living in many ally countries in the Commonwealth, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, St Vincent and the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands (but they do for the US Virgin Islands) and so on.

It is double standards.

It is discriminatory.

It is not cricket!

James nelson
Posted on 11 Jun 2008 12:05 am (Report this annotation)

Why do politicians refer to reciprocal agreements that "enable" increases of the state pension to be paid? Are there any agreements that prohibit payment of increases? Surely the UK government could index the pensions of all pensioners no matter where they live. Nobody would object. No pensioners would object. No foreign government would object.

"enables" is the wrong word. It gives the impression that other agreements disallow indexation.

Aubrey Prance
Posted on 11 Jun 2008 1:13 am (Report this annotation)

According to the Lord McKenzie, figures available to him early in 2007 show that it would cost about 1,000 per head to abolish the Social Security Benefits Uprating Regulations for pensioners living in "frozen" countries who make no claim on (a) Health Care,(b)Pension Credits, (c) Winter Fuel Allowance,(d)Age related payments and (e)Christmas Bonus. Thats about a half billion sterling he saves each year.Couple that with savings of 440 millions that his government already happily pockets annually by freezing the pensions of those same neglected souls then one might say that he is laughing all the way to the bank. But he is too modest to admit it.

Tina Hamilton
Posted on 4 Nov 2008 6:25 pm (Report this annotation)

I found Lord McKenzie's response very interesting but would like to point out that despite the ECJ judgement on the exportability of DLA, CA and AA, this government is still not adhering to the ruling to those who moved abroad before April 2008. As such, I have had no option but to set up an e-petition on the No10 Downing Street website ( and am campaigning through several European media outlets to raise awareness of this discriminatory practice. After all, disability does not disappear in a puff of smoke just because someone steps on a plane/train/ferry!