That’s according to Member of Parliament Mona Ioane.
Speaking in parliament last week, Ioane said the pension payment rules would be very different under the new legislation than they had been under the old Welfare Act, which was enacted in 1989.
“Previously, when pensioners reside for over six months overseas their pension payments automatically get terminated and, if they choose to come back, they will need to wait for 12 months in the country before qualifying to reapply for the same payment scheme.
“Now … pension payments will automatically get terminated six months after residing overseas, but if you had been absent from the Cook Islands for over six months, but less than a year, you automatically qualify to reapply for the scheme on your return.
“If you resided overseas for more than a year, but less than 24 months, you will need to wait for three months after returning then reapply,” he said.
Ioane added that the only time a pensioner will have to wait for 12 months in order to reapply is when they had been overseas for two years or more.
If a pensioner is referred overseas for medical reasons by the Ministry of Health they will automatically qualify to reapply for the old-age payments even if they have been absent from the country for a year or more.
Ioane said these changes were designed to help old-age pensioners receive their retirement benefits.