- What are the benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
- How do you qualify for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
- What are the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test thresholds?
- How do I apply for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
- When should you tell Centrelink about changed circumstances?
- The bottom line
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) is a concession card that allows you to access cheaper health care in Australia if you meet certain eligibility requirements.
What are the benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
If you hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, you’re entitled to receive the following federal government benefits:
- Cheaper prescription medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The cost of medicines listed under the PBS are subsidised by the Australian government.
- Bulk-billed doctor visits (at the discretion of the doctor you choose).
- A larger Medicare refund on medical costs for any out-of-hospital costs when you reach the Medicare Safety Net. The Medicare Safety Net Threshold for concession card holders is currently $680.70, and if you exceed that amount in out-of-pocket hospital costs, you’ll be refunded 80% of the amount.
How do you qualify for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
To qualify for the Commonwealth Seniors Card, you must satisfy four requirements:
1. You have reached your Age Pension eligibility age
Age Pension age depends on your date of birth. It is currently 65 years and six months. However, it is progressively being increased and it will be 67 for all Australians by 1 July 2023.
2. You’re not eligible to receive for any payment from the Department of Human Services (including the Age Pension) or from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
3. You’re an Australian resident and you live in Australia
Alternatively, you may hold a special category visa as a New Zealand citizen living in Australia.
4. You satisfy an annual income test
It’s important to understand that the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test has different thresholds to the Age Pension income test.
It’s also important to understand that (like the Age Pension income test), the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test includes:
- Your adjusted taxable income. Your adjusted taxable income includes your taxable income plus any additional income you may have earned such as:
- Any reportable super contributions that you may have made to your super fund. Reportable super contributions include any salary sacrificing into super arrangements that you may have with your employer, or super payments that you claim as a tax deduction if you’re self-employed.
- Any reportable fringe benefits you may have received from an employer if you’re still working. For example, the payment of health insurance premiums on your behalf or providing a company car that’s also available for your private use).
- Any foreign income that you may have earned that you didn’t pay tax on in Australia.
- Any net investment losses that have reduced your taxable income. Any loss amounts are added back to your taxable income for the purposes of calculating your adjusted taxable income.
- A deemed amount from any investments you (and your partner) have (including your super balances, even if you haven’t started a super pension or annuity). Under deeming rules, you’re assumed to be earning a certain rate of return on your investments, regardless of whether you are or not. The only exception to having a deemed amount from your super balance included in your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test is if you (or your partner) purchased a super pension or annuity prior to 1 January 2015. If you did, the deemed amounts from these assets would not be included in your income test. This is because account-based income streams (like super pensions and annuities) were not included in the income test prior to this date, and that arrangement is allowed to continue.
What are the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test thresholds?
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test maximum thresholds that apply from 20 September 2018 to 19 September 2019 are provided in the table below.
|Situation||Maximum income threshold|
|Couples separated by illness, respite care or prison||$109,858|
Source: Department of Human Services
If you have any children still in your care, $639.60 can be added to each threshold for each child. If you exceed your maximum income threshold, you’re not entitled to a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
These maximum income thresholds are adjusted each year in line with changes to the consumer price index (CPI) in September each year. The CPI is measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
How do I apply for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
You can apply for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card from the Department of Human Services (via Centrelink) once you’ve reached your Age Pension eligibility age. Click here to download the CSHC application form.
Once issued, it is valid for one year. It will be automatically renewed by the Department of Human Services every year, provided you continue to satisfy all of the eligibility requirements.
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card should not be confused with a Health Care Card or a Low Income Health Care Card. These are two other types of concession cards offered by the Department of Human Services. Each of these cards has different eligibility requirements.
For example, you may be entitled to receive a Health Care Card if you receive some forms of government payments (excluding the Age Pension). You can potentially receive the Low Income Health Care Card if you’re receiving the Age Pension and satisfy all the other eligibility requirements for it (including a different income test).
If you have a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, you must notify Centrelink within 14 days if any of the following circumstances occur:
- You (or your partner)’s income changes and is likely to exceed your income test threshold.
- You (or your partner) purchase an account-based income stream.
- You (or your partner) are granted a government benefit or a pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
- There is a change in your living arrangements (i.e. you go from a couples’ living arrangement to being single, or vice versa).
- You travel overseas for more than six weeks or you move overseas permanently.
Any of these changed circumstances could affect your eligibility to retain the Commonwealth Health Seniors Card.
There are eligibility requirements that you must meet to qualify for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card from the federal government in Australia. This concession card entitles you to cheaper healthcare benefits. You must continue to meet the eligibility requirements to retain your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
The information contained in this article is general in nature.