Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
What is the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) was first introduced in 1994. Its purpose was to give low income retirees who didn’t qualify for the Age Pension access to similar Commonwealth concessions as the holders of the Pensioners Concession Card (PCC).
Since then access has been increased and benefits widened to make this card an extremely valuable adjunct to self-funded retirees’ retirement income.
Essentially, it is a concession card which allows holders to access cheaper health care as well as a range of discounts, as long as the holder has reached Age Pension age.
How we can help?
If it all sounds too hard, there are many ways that Retirement Essentials can help you to get a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
As with the Retirement Essentials Age Pension Entitlements Calculator, we are committed to keeping the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card calculator up to date with any and all changes. So rest assured, we are always first to reflect the new thresholds as soon as they become law. And we make sure that you are alerted to any changes in our regular weekly emails.
Why not check your eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card on our free eligibility calculator.
“What’s it worth?”
It really depends upon your personal situation, but the savings on the medical safety net and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) are worth about $2500 per annum for singles, double that for couples
Learn more about the benefits here
Who gets the Seniors Health Card?
At present, around 420,000 of Australia’s 1.9 million self-funded retirees – just 22% – have received this valuable card. There are many reasons why this might be:
- the 18-page application is incredibly detailed,
- people don’t know it exists, or
- assume that their assets will knock them out.
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Eligibility Rules
The current CSHC eligibility rules and conditions require that you must:
- be Age Pension age or older
- meet residency rules
- not be receiving a payment from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
- supply a Tax File Number, or have submitted a notice of Non Lodgement to the tax office as evidence that you are exempt from having to do lodge a tax return
- meet identity requirements
- meet the health card income test thresholds
Current eligibility thresholds for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
As already mentioned, unlike the Age Pension requirements, only the income test is relevant for eligibility for the seniors health card.
As at the 20 September 2023 the income thresholds are
- Singles – $95,400
- Couples – $152,640
What will you get?
So how much is a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card actually worth? Not surprisingly, the answer varies from household to household.
However it is conservatively estimated that, total Commonwealth Seniors Health Card discounts might add up to $2000-3000 per year. This includes the Medicare safety net, pharmaceutical benefits, and (up to) an additional $3000, depending upon council rates, utility and transport costs.
That’s what earns this card its gold standard status!
To get a deeper understanding of the benefits, take a look at the experience of Sue and Robert.
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card benefits
The CSHC benefits start with:
- cheaper medicine under the PBS
- bulk billed doctor visits (depending upon your doctor)
- a refund for medical costs when you reach the Medicare Safety Net.
- you may also get ad hoc Economic Support Payments, such as the ones which were paid during the Covid pandemic.
On top of this, your state / territory government and local council may provide additional discounts for CSHC card holders. These discounts can include:
- electricity and gas bills
- property and water rates
- health care costs, including ambulance, dental and eye care
- public transport fares
- recreational activities
- Mail charges
- Stamp duty
How is the income test for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card applied?
The criteria for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test is reviewed and updated on 20 September each year in line with the Consumer Price Index. So if you are not eligible right now you may be in the future. This test considers both your:
- adjusted taxable income
- a deemed amount from account based income streams.
As noted above, to meet the current income test (from 4 November 2022) you must earn no more than the following:
- $95,400 a year if you’re single
- $152,640 a year for couples
- $190,800 a year for couples separated by illness, respite care or prison.
- Add $639.60 per year to these amounts for each child in your care.
No assets test is applied.
How do you apply for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
Applications for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card are made through the relevant government department (Services Australia) using its agency, Centrelink. You can do this through your MyGov or Centrelink account if you have these accounts. As self-funded retirees, you may not. In which case you can create an account or visit a Centrelink office.
Separately Retirement Essentials offers two levels of assistance and support to help you apply.
Which documentation will you need?
This is where the hard work starts. To meet eligibility criteria you will need to prove age, residency, all income including any lump sums, taxation records and more. The application is a 16-page document, and you will separately have to supply proof of all eligibility criteria.