Accessing the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
Q: I have recently turned 65 and will be ineligible for the Age Pension due to the Assets Test. I have been told I can apply for the Commonwealth Seniors health Card. What is this and what benefits do I receive?
A: The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is a concession card that is available to individuals who are Australian resident, of Age Pension age, who do not qualify for the Age Pension due to their level of income or assets.
The benefits of the CSHC include discounted prescriptions for Medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Once the PBS Safety net has been reached, you will receive PBS prescriptions without charge for the remainder of the calendar year. You are entitled to access to bulk billed doctor visits if these are provided by your doctor. Additionally access to a larger refund for medical costs when you exceed the Medicare safety net.
Those lucky enough to have had the CSHC issued prior to September 19, 2016 receive an energy supplement of $366.60 a year for a single person and $551.20 a year for a couple.
Those issued with a card from September 20, 2016 to March 19, 2017 had these entitlements cease at March 20, 2017.
Those receiving the CSHC after this date do not receive this benefit.
Unlike the Age Pension, the CSHC is not subject to the asset test. However, it is subject to an income test threshold. The threshold limit is income of $52,796 a year as a single or $84,472 a year as a couple.
Since January 1, 2015, new account-based pensions such as Allocated Pensions have been deemed for income test purposes.
As a single person, the first $49,200 of assets are deemed to earn 1.75 per cent and assets in excess of this figure 3.25 per cent.
If you're a member of a couple the first $81,600 of your combined financial investments are deemed to earn income of 1.75 per cent and then 3.25 per cent thereafter.
If you had an account based pension established prior to January 1, 2015, this asset is grandfathered from deeming unless you lose your entitlement to receive the Age Pension.
In your case as you are ineligible to receive the Age Pension due to the assets test, any account-based pension would be deemed for income assessment purposes.
To apply, contact the Department of Human Services and request an application for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. If you have previously been issued a Centrelink Customer Access Number, this number remains current. Applications can be made online at www.humanservices.gov.au.
Those over age 60 are also entitled to apply for a Seniors card which is issued by your state or territory governments.
Benefits may include access to discounted public transport. Discounts on electricity and gas bills, property and water rates. Discounts on education programs and entry to cultural and recreation facilities. Eligibility conditions and benefits vary slightly so check with your state or territory government.
Further information - for NSW residents the website is www.seniorscard.nsw.gov.au. For Victorians: www.seniorsonline.vic.gov.au. Residents of the ACT should visit: www.actseniorscard.org.au, and West Australians: www.seniorscard.wa.gov.au.
In the Northern Territory and all other states, visit your government website.
Visit the Wealth section at theaustralian.com.au to send your questions to Andrew Heaven, an AMP financial planner at WealthPartners Financial Solutions.
The Coach: Accessing the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card story first appeared in The Australian.