British expats are among thousands of retirement savers in New Zealand readying to sue the government for docking millions of dollars from their state pensions.
New Zealand Seniors Party claims 85,000 pensions have lost NZ$350 million as the government reduced their pensions if they received money from an overseas pension.
Since 2007, when the rules started, the government has received an estimated $2.5 billion sliced off pensions.
The party has revealed lawyers are preparing a legal challenge against the rules to reclaim the cash.
Party executive member Paul Norfolk said: “There is a great deal of interest in our plan. We are not going to show our hand to the government at this time, but we are looking closely at this law and investigating the best way to proceed.
Fight for compensation
“We want compensation for money docked by the government under unfair and fraudulent rules.
“This could bring the government down as billions of dollars are involved.”
Another case disputing the rule – Section 70 of the Social Security Act in New Zealand – is going before a human rights tribunal.
The rule allows the government to reduce the New Zealand state pension if the expat or their spouse also receives a state pension from overseas.
The party claims this is unfair as the expat is entitled to both pensions because they have contributed or qualified for the money during their working lives.
The government argues the policy is designed to make sure New Zealanders who do not work overseas are not financially disadvantaged when they retire.
Private member bill
“The policy means that New Zealanders who have lived in New Zealand all their lives are not disadvantaged compared with others who have worked overseas, or immigrants to New Zealand who have entitlement to overseas state pensions,” said a government spokesman.
In New Zealand, expats can qualify for a state pension after living in the country for 10 years.
A recent private member bill before the New Zealand parliament proposes raising the qualification period to 25 years, which would mean few expats benefitted from a state pension in another country.
“It’s not Kiwis who are disadvantaged by these rules, but expats,” said Norfolk.
“Anyone wanting to take part in our action should get in touch.”