Big win for 50,000 retirees
In a surprise announcement last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison shared an expansion of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) for 50,000 self-funded retirees over the next four years.
This will be done by increasing eligibility for both singles and couples.
The current income threshold for singles, $57,761, will be increased to $90,000, while the current couple’s threshold of $92,416 will be lifted to $144,000.
The start date for the new eligibility rules is July 1 this year. The scheme is predicted to cost $70 million over a period of four years.
Within 24 hours, the Labor Party had pledged to match this policy, with Opposition Labor spokesperson, Jason Clare, declaring it a ‘good idea’.
So regardless of which major party wins the May 21 election, these changes will start on July 1 this year, and deliver significant cost-of-living savings for those who are not on a full or part Age Pension.
In essence, the CSHC was created to help those in retirement, but not on a pension, to save on health care and prescription medicines. We recently shared an article outlining how one couple had saved $800 in a matter of weeks after receiving their CSHC. Whilst many consider self-funded retirees to be ‘well off’, a high proportion have seen their savings dwindle as prolonged low interest rates mean returns on cash investments have been extremely poor. So whilst those on the Age Pension have at least benefited from regular cost-of-living indexed increases, those who fund themselves have not had a ‘wage rise’ for the last few years. The increase to the CSHC thresholds is one of the most significant changes for retirees in quite some time and will be welcome news to those facing high medical or pharmaceutical bills.
The interesting fact about this card, however, is that whilst nearly two million Australian retirees might be eligible, fewer than half a million have applied. If you think you may be in the running to now get a card, watch for an update from Retirement Essentials at the end of June, when our entitlements calculator will be changed to reflect the new thresholds. And if you want help to apply quickly and easily, we would be delighted to assist you with this very handy concession card.