Easy extra money: Are you still missing out?
James ran a ‘back of the envelope’ exercise the other day and surprised most members of our team with his conclusion that nearly 800,000 self-funded retirees are going without. This also left us wondering why are so many retirees are still missing out on extra money that they are entitled to. It came to light when James’ friend Rebecca mentioned that she had needed annual medical scans and was now $472 out of pocket for these tests. That’s a lot when you are living on a fixed income.
As she is a self-funded retiree, James asked her whether she had bothered to apply for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) yet, given the dramatic increase in income thresholds last November.
Rebecca said that she had started the application but hadn’t got around to uploading it.
Which is a pity as the full amount of the scans would have been bulk-billed, thus saving her nearly $500.
Rebecca isn’t alone.
James calculates that nearly 800,000 self-funded retirees are also going without benefits and discounts because they simply haven’t applied.
Here’s his summary of the numbers:
- Firstly there are about 4.2 million Australians over 66 ½
- About 2.8m are already receiving the Age Pension or another form of income support such as a disability support pension.
- Another 420,000 already hold the CSHC
- This leaves 980,000 Australians over age 66 ½ that don’t receive any Government income support or hold the CSHC.
Now some of these people have very high incomes, well above the thresholds of $90,000 for a single person and $144,000 for a couple, but not many. Most self funded retirees are getting by on far less than that. So if we assume that maybe 1 in 5 are above those thresholds we are still left with 784,000 Australians that are likely to be eligible for the CSHC and haven’t yet applied.
And as long as they satisfy the other top level requirements, they can apply immediately and reap the benefits of these valuable concession cards.
Three easy steps to apply
There are many reasons why people haven’t and mightn’t apply for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. For some, they simply don’t know about concession cards for those who are self-funded. Others feel the application process will be stressful or onerous. Still others worry that they need to apply online and there are no other options. Maybe they just enjoy paying more than they need to for health expenses of perhaps don’t want to rely on the Government for any support. But for those that would like to get this card here is a short summary to the three steps involved.
- Know the rules
We have covered the rules many times, but, in brief, you need to:
- Be a resident of Australia for a required period of time
- Be of Age Pension age
- Have income which is under the new thresholds
- Choose the most suitable way to apply
There are at least five different ways you might apply – here’s a quick overview:
- Online via MyGov and Centrelink. You will need both accounts set up and can then work through the online application, including uploading documents verifying age, identity and some financial information
- Using a print application, which can be downloaded from the Centrelink-Services Australia website. You can then fill it in by hand and add copies of all required information before posting or lodging at a Centrelink office.
- Making an appointment at a Centrelink office for an officer to assist you to apply
- Seeking assistance from Retirement Essentials for a DIY support service to check your application before you upload
- Seeking assistance from Retirement Essentials for a Concierge service which means we check and upload all your information on your behalf.
- Assemble your documents
Centrelink requires proof of identity, proof of retirement income and recent tax assessments. Other information may also be required, depending upon your circumstances. (Make sure if you are uploading online you have files that can be successfully processed – images from mobile phones don’t always work).
How long does it take to be approved?
This can vary. In the interests of accuracy, we approached Centrelink for their estimates. We’ll update you once we hear back.
What are the main pitfalls?
Again we asked on your behalf and will let you know what they tell us.
What next if you are ineligible?
Not every knockback is an accurate reflection of your eligibility. One of our clients was refused a card after a five week assessment period. Initially, it was unclear why but, on checking, it seems Centrelink had not received the statement of income the client had lodged with his original application. Things can go astray – it’s always worth being clear why you are deemed ineligible and then appealing a decision if you believe this reason to be incorrect. You can get started by checking your eligibility.