Health concession cards, commonwealth seniors health card, pension concession card, Age Pension, Low Income Health card

Which concession card is best for Ken?

Last week we had a call from Ken who was very confused about his health card entitlement. Which prompted us to share the following comparison of concession cards so you know which one best suits your age and stage.

Ken is single and aged 65. He is working part-time as a cleaner, earning about $35,000 per annum. As a low-income earner, he would like more support with his medical bills. He wondered if he has to wait until he reaches Age Pension age, or if there is a card, such as the  Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, that he could apply for straight away. 

In essence, Ken is asking about the difference between three individual Health Concession Cards:

  • The Low Income Health Care card
  • The Pension Concession Card and
  • The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Here’s how each might suit a different type of retiree.

Low Income Health Care Card

This is a general Health Concession Card for Australians aged 19 and over. It has no asset test. The income test limits, per annum, are:

Single, no children $36,504 

Couple, combined, no children $64,376

Assessment, including deeming,  includes income from employment, government benefits, superannuation income streams, and financial investments. A LIHC needs to be applied for on an annual basis. Generally speaking, LIHC holders do not receive economic support payments such as the recent Covid-19 payments received by many other card holders.

Pension Concession Card

This card is automatically awarded to those who qualify for an Age Pension. Eligibility requirements include being Age Pension age (now 66.5 but 67 from 1 July), an Australian citizen, and meeting the income and assets test. The income test thresholds [ ] are not the same as the above income limits for the Low Income Health Card, varying for a full or part-Age Pension.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

This Health Concession Card is for those who have reached Age Pension age, but do not qualify for an Age Pension, usually self-funded retirees. There is no assets test, but there are income thresholds:

Singles $90,000

Couples (combined) $144,000

Are concession cards worth the effort of applying?

As with the eligibility criteria for each card, benefits can vary. Additionally, many benefits are state or territory-based, with Victorians receiving fewer benefits and Queenslanders seemingly receiving the most. Benefits offered can include:

  • cheaper prescription medicines,
  • bulk billed medical appointments

as well as discounts on:

  • electricity and gas bills
  • property and water rates
  • ambulance services
  • dental treatment
  • eye care
  • public transport fares.

In addition over the last few years many additional payments have been made to concessions card holders including during the GFC, several stimulus payments during the Covid pandemic and most recently the energy bill reductions announced in the Federal budget.

What is best for Ken?

As Ken is below Age Pension age, he cannot qualify for either an Age Pension (which comes with a Pension Concession Card or a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. He can, however, immediately apply for a Low Income Health Card and when he turns 67, see if he is eligible for an Age Pension, or a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card in order to maintain his health, energy and transport discounts.

We hope this clears up some of the confusion about government concession cards, but if you would like a fuller explanation, there’s one right here.

Retirement Essentials has a free calculator which will help you determine if you are eligible for the Age Pension, and therefore also the Pension Concession Card or a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. You can find our calculator here. Or if you would like to further discuss your own entitlements situation you can book a consultation here.

What’s your situation?

Do you have a concession card? 

Are you finding it useful?