As an older Australian, you may think that you’re only eligible for a concession card if you’re receiving the age pension. But this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) is only available to people who are not receiving a government payment. Many self-funded retirees overlook the benefits that the CSHC can provide.
What benefits does the CSHC offer?
The CSHS gives you access to cheaper health care, including:
— Cheaper prescription medicines which are listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
— Bulk-billed doctors visits (at you doctor’s discretion).
— Access to the Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN). The EMSN provides an increased rebate for out-of-pocket medical costs for eligible out-of-hospital services. The current threshold for a CSHC holder to access the EMSN is $692.20, compared to $2,169.20 for all other singles and families.
(Rates current as at 1 March 2020)
Am I eligible for a CSHC?
To be eligible for the CSHC, you must:
1. Have reached your age pension eligibility age. This varies depending on your year of birth. It’s currently 66 years of age, but is increasing progressively to 67 years of age from 1 July 2023.
2. Not qualify for any payment from Department of Human Services or Department of Veterans Affairs. That is, you must not be receiving an age pension.
3. Live in Australia and meet residency rules.
4. Meet an income test. Unlike the age pension, the value of your assets is not taken into account. To pass the income test, you must earn no more than the following:
$55,808 a year if you’re single
$89,290 a year for couples
$111,616 a year for couples separated by illness, respite care or prison.
Click here for more information on how the income test is applied.
How do I apply?
You need to claim your CSHC through Centrelink. You can apply online through your myGov account, provided you have one set up, and it’s linked to Centrelink.
However, given many applicants will be self-funded retirees, it’s likely you won’t have your myGov linked to Centrelink. An alternative is to print and complete the Claim for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Form.
The card will only cover one person. If you have a partner who is eligible, they’ll need to submit their own application online. Or, you can both claim on the same paper form.
A step-by-step process for claiming the CSHC is available online here.