More Aussies Now Eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
Are you of pension age and earn less than $90,000 as a single person, or $144,000 as a couple?
If you answered ‘yes’, you could be one of the 44,000 additional Australians now eligible to receive the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC).
The Federal Government passed new legislation late last year that raised the income test threshold for low-income self-funded retirees from $61,284 for individuals and $98,054 for couples to the significantly higher rates listed above.
The net result of that change—which was an election promise from both major parties—is that tens of thousands more Australians are now eligible to receive cheaper prescription medicines, bulk-billed visits to the doctor, bigger Medicare refunds, and a range of other concessions from state and federal governments.
What Are the Benefits of a CSHC Card?
The main benefit to CSHC cardholders is that it allows cheaper access to medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
While it offers a similar range of benefits to the Pensioner Concession Card (PCC), you won’t qualify for a CSHC if you receive any other forms of government payment, such as the Age Pension or benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Essentially, the CSHC is geared towards providing low-income self-funded retirees with better access to a range of subsidised medical benefits and other services. The card’s benefits include:
- Cheaper prescription medicines, with those listed on the PBS subsidised by the federal government.
- Bulk-billed visits to your General Practitioner (at your doctor’s discretion).
- Bigger Medicare refunds for out-of-hospital costs throughout the calendar year, via access to the Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN).
- Lower electricity and gas bills, reduced property and water rates, and subsidised public transport fares—depending on which state you live in.
You can check which concessions are available in your state on the National Seniors Concessions Calculator.
How Do I Get a CSHC Card?
Unlike a Pensioner Concession Card, which is automatically awarded when recipients qualify for a part or full Aged Pension, you will need to apply for a CSHC card.
To qualify, you must be of pension age—which rises to 67 on July 1, 2023—on the Age Pension, or earning less than the new income threshold.
There are no specific asset or eligibility tests to qualify for the CSHC, however those assets that are deemed to earn an income will be included as part of an income assessment.
While deemed income is only assessed when it is derived from account-based income streams, rather than any other financial assets you may own, your actual income is based on adjustable taxable income comprised of the following streams:
- Taxable income
- Target foreign income
- Total net investment losses
- Employer-provided benefits
- Reportable superannuation contributions
Deeming rates are currently calculated at 0.25% for the first $56,400 of your financial assets, and 2.25% for anything above $56,400—unless you are a couple, and you do not receive a pension.
For couples not on a pension, the first $46,800 of any joined financial assets are deemed at 0.25% per annum, with anything above that figure subsequently deemed at the higher rate of 2.25%.
Mindful of rising interest rates, the federal government announced on July 1, 2022 that deeming rates would be frozen for the next two years—meaning those figures won’t change for the foreseeable future even if rates continue to rise.
Need Financial Advice for Your Retirement?
While state and federal governments have attempted to simplify the process of accessing a range of retirement benefits in recent years, there is no doubt the sheer volume of concessions available—and the different means of qualifying for them—can be hard to keep track of.
If you are ready to apply for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, or you are simply looking for sound financial advice as you transition into the next phase of your life, drop me a line at [email protected] to schedule a chat.
We make more possible for your retirement.