At last the extended benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card are now available to the vast majority of retirees who are not eligible for an Age Pension. We most recently reported on this when the legislation was awaiting approval in the Senate. This passed into law and is effective from Friday 4 November 2022. The following is a brief summary of everything you need to know about this change, with links to further detail where necessary. So read on to see if you are now eligible and if so, the quickest and easiest way to get one of these valuable discount cards.
What has changed?
The new income thresholds (per annum) are now:
- $90,000 for a single person
- $144,000 for a couple and
- $180,000 for a couple separated by illness.
What is a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is a concession card which allows holders who have reached Age Pension age to access cheaper health care as well as a range of discounts that vary by State and Territory. It is available for older Australians (Age Pension age or older) who do not qualify for the Age Pension. Whilst the Age Pension has both an income and assets test, the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card does not have an assets test (although income is deemed on Account Based Pensions). As mentioned above, income thresholds have just been lifted dramatically.
Who will be affected?
Previous income thresholds were $61,284 for singles and $98,654 for couples. With the new limits of $90,000 for singles and $144,000 for couples, this change will affect a high proportion of the 1.5 million self-funded retirees who did not previously qualify for this card.
In addition to age and income, there are other eligibility conditions which you can read here.
What are the benefits?
Savings per household for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders are conservatively estimated to be between $2000- $3000 per annum – a significant amount – and in some States much more. National Seniors Australia has a terrific calculator that calculates the additional state based benefits. Benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card can include:
- Cheaper prescription medications
- Higher Medicare Safety Net reductions
- Other healthcare discounts (ambulance, eye check-ups, hearing etc)
- Water and property rate discounts (depending upon state where you reside)
- Energy bill discounts
- Transport and recreational discounts
- Certain travel discounts
Some state discounts are more generous than others. You can check your specific concession card discounts by postcode using this handy National Seniors Association calculator.
How can you apply?
The first thing to do is to check your eligibility using the Retirement Essentials’ Commonwealth Seniors Health Card calculator. This will take just a few minutes and then you will know whether it is worth proceeding with an application.
Should you wish to manage this yourself, you can apply directly either by visiting a Centrelink office or applying through the MyGov portal.
Or you can use one of the two services offered by Retirement Essentials to help you secure this entitlement as easily as possible.
Easy ways to get a CHSC, 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.