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The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

A client who has recently reached Age Pension age thought that he had too many assets to receive any government benefits.  He was surprised to hear that there were other benefits that could be accessed by receiving a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.  The following commentary is based on information from the Centrelink website.  (Please note - this information is up to date as at the 25th February 2009.  Changes to the details, particularly the applicable rates and income tests, are made.  For the most up to date details please refer to the relevant page on the Centrelink website.)

 A Commonwealth Seniors Health Card helps with the cost of prescription medicines and other services (as listed below) if you are of Age Pension age but do not qualify for Age Pension.
To qualify, you must:

  • be an Australian resident, living in Australia, and
  • not subject to a newly arrived residents waiting period, and
  • have reached age pension age but do not qualify for Age Pension (or do not receive certain other Social Security/Veteran Affairs pensions/benefits)
  • provide Centrelink with your and your partner's tax file number or be granted an exemption from providing your and your partner's tax file number, and
  • have an annual adjusted taxable income* of:
    • less than $50 000 (singles)
    • $80 000 (couples combined), or
    • $100 000 (couples combined who are separated due to ill health).
    • The limit is increased by $639.60 for each dependent child you care for.

* 'Adjusted taxable income' is your taxable income plus net rental property loss, target foreign income (foreign income not normally taxed in Australia including fringe benefits) and employer provided fringe benefits in Australia.
(Up to this financial year, adjusted taxable income has not included pension payments but there are moves to change this going forward possibly ready for the 2009-10 financial year.  We will keep an eye on this and keep clients and subscribers updated.)
If you fit into these criteria then the benefits you will receive include a discount on prescription medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Other services may include:

  • Bulk-billed GP appointments, at the discretion of the GP (the Australian Government provides financial incentives for GPs to bulk-bill concession card holders).
  • a reduction in the cost of out-of-hospital medical expenses above a concessional threshold, through Medicare Safety Net.
  • in some instances, additional health, household, transport, education and recreation concessions which may be offered by State or Territory and local governments and private providers. Note: these providers offer these concessions at their own discretion, and the availability of these concessions may vary from state to state. 

You may also be entitled to receive the following allowances:

  • Seniors Concession Allowance - a non-taxable payment made every six months to help with regular bills such as energy, rates and motor vehicle registration fees that are not available at a concessional rate.   The rate of this payment is currently $128.50 per quarter ($514 p.a.)
  • Telephone Allowance - if you have a telephone connected in Australia in your own or your partner's name.  The rate of this payment is currently $34.60 per quarter per household if you have the internet connected or $23 if not. ($138.40 or $92 p.a.) 

To register for the card you need to register a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card claim form which can be found on the Centrelink website.