You are probably now eligible

On November 4, thresholds for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) changed, with some very big increases. This meant that a majority of those Australians who are NOT on an Age Pension, but are 66.5 years or older, are likely to be eligible.

As a reminder, the new income thresholds are:

  • Singles $90,000
  • Couples (combined) $144,000
  • Couples separated by illness, care or prison (combined) $180,000

We have covered all the rules of entitlement and the benefits of gaining access to one of these valuable concession cards quite recently.

But as we work with the many retirees who are seeking Retirement Essentials’ assistance to apply, we are uncovering more and more of the detail that will help you gain this card more quickly and easily. Today we have summarised the five major aspects of the card that tend to fly under the radar.

What didn’t you know?

It’s not a couples’ card

Even though the income thresholds for couples are stated as combined, the CSHC is not a joint entitlement card. It is issued to individuals and each individual must contribute to the application, as well as provide separate verifiable information and evidence of statements or identity. To expedite the application process, you may give your partner permission to enquire about certain aspects of your situation so both parties information can be included. As the card is not available to those already on income assistance, your partner will not qualify if they are receiving support in the form of an Age or Service Pension, Income Support Supplement or Veteran Payment. This does not mean you will necessarily miss out. If you are below the income threshold, you can still apply. Whilst you can choose to report on either one of the two most recent financial years income, both you and your partner must report on the same financial year. Separate cards will be issued to whoever qualifies.

It’s not a forever entitlement

Your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is only issued for a 12-month period. It is automatically replaced with a new one, posted before the original expires. If your circumstances change, at any time, the onus is on you to inform Centrelink within 14 days. Specifically, if your income exceeds the threshold you are no longer entitled to a card and you must inform Centrelink of this change in circumstances.

Your income must be verifiable

This is most easily done by declaring your adjusted taxable income (i.e. your taxable income plus extra relevant earnings) and supplying the relevant tax assessment in addition to details of Account-Based income streams (see below). If you no longer lodge an income tax return, you will need to:

  • explain why
  • estimate any income received and
  • provide documents to support this statement.

Additional reportable income includes foreign income, net investment losses, employer-provided benefits and superannuation contributions.

There is no assets test… but income streams are deemed

Income streams such as an account based pension are assessed using the deeming rates, not on the basis of what you actually get. Deeming rates have been frozen at a maximum of 2.25% until 30 June 2024 which is great news for people on an income stream.  You can read more here. The income is deemed on the account balance of this income stream. You may have more than one such income stream and will need to separately report and produce evidence for each account. Many people with self managed funds make mistakes when applying for the CSHC as they don’t realise they actually have an income stream.  They sometimes don’t realise that the deeming rates will applied to the account they withdraw lump lumps from in retirement.

Have Centrelink verified your ID in person?

If you do not already possess a Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN), you will need to apply online, over the phone, or in person at a Services Australia centre. Those who have already established a myGov account can apply through this portal, by requesting to link the Centrelink account and replying ‘no’ when asked if you have a CRN. You will then be stepped through the application process.You also  need to have had your ID verified at a Centrelink office.  Many people will already have done this at some time in the past but if you have not you will need to attend a Centrelink office and have your ID verified before your claim can be approved. Therefore if you plan to apply in person, take your ID docs with you but if you are applying online and are not sure if your ID has been verified, you may wish to head in to your local Centrelink office to prevent any unnecessary delays in having your claim approved. CLICK HERE for a list of what documents Centrelink will accept

Easy ways to get a CSHC, quickly

Retirement Essentials has two different services to remove the hard work and help ensure that those who are eligible receive their entitlement as quickly as possible. These are:

Health Card Standard Service

This is a new service we offer to assist anybody who wishes to apply for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card but feels a little daunted by the idea of dealing with government departments and filling in such a long application.

Our Standard Service is the quickest and easiest way for you to file your claim with Centrelink. The Retirement Essentials team of specialists prepares your claim form accurately and correctly, eliminating potential mistakes and any unnecessary delays. We also provide you with a personalised checklist so that when you submit your claim you can include, in advance, ALL of the supporting documents Centrelink might require, avoiding any possible delays.

The fee for our Standard Service is only $196 (single and couple claims). If you lodge your claim with Centrelink using this service it would normally be approved in 2-4 weeks (depending upon Centrelink workload). Check your eligibility and apply here

Health Card Concierge Service

This $296 Concierge Service takes all the hard work out of applying. It includes the same support as our Standard Service in preparing your claim forms accurately and correctly, as well as the personalised checklist of all required supporting documents.

Additionally, we will request that you name Retirement Essentials as your correspondence nominee with Centrelink. This enables us to lodge the claim on your behalf and liaise with Centrelink during the assessment process.

The fee for our Concierge Service is $296 for a single application and $346 for a couple. (Whilst this service does involve us liaising with Centrelink on your behalf it should be noted that we cannot force Centrelink into action or to prioritise our customers’ claims). The timeframe for approval would still be 2-4 weeks. This service is particularly useful for those who could find it difficult to attend a Centrelink office in person and need someone to act on their behalf remotely.

The first step is to check if you are eligible to apply.

Check your eligibility and apply here


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