All of these agreements are based on the concept of shared responsibility. Responsibility-sharing agreements are reciprocal. Under each agreement, partner countries make concessions to their social security qualification rules so that those covered by the agreement have access to payments that they may not be eligible for. The responsibility for social security is thus distributed among the countries in which a person has lived during his or her working years and where the person is able to obtain potential rights. In general, it is possible to access a pension from one country in the second country, although the paying country retains some discretion with regard to the exchange and delivery mechanisms used. Australia currently has 31 bilateral international social security agreements. Under these agreements, Australia equates social security periods/stays in these countries with periods of Australian residence in order to meet minimum qualification periods for Australian pensions. In other countries, periods of Australian working life are generally counted as social security periods to meet their minimum payment periods. Typically, each country pays a partial pension to a person who has lived in both countries.

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