Changes to the Commonwealth Seniors Card have recently been announced by Services Australia. The new thresholds are set to widen eligibility for many self-funded retirees who up until the 4th of November 2022, have been unable to access:
- cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
- more bulk-billed GP visits
- refunds on medical costs (once having reached the Medicare Safety Net), as well as
- state specific benefits such as access to public dental care and energy rebates.
Commonwealth Seniors Card eligibility
To be eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card you must meet a number of conditions stipulated by Services Australia. These conditions state you must:
- be of age to qualify for the Age Pension:
- for people born from 1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956 the age is 66 years and 6 months and for those born on or after 1 January 1957, the age is 67 years.
- satisfy the Australian Government’s residence rules:
- you need to be an Australian resident for 10 years in total, with at least 5 years being of continual residence in Australia
- not be receiving any payments from Services Australia or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
- provide your (and your partner’s TFN) Australian Tax File Number (TFN) or have an exemption
- satisfy identity requirements:
- in order to claim a payment or service you must have a Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN). You can obtain this by proving your identity online, by phone or in person
- meet the income test.
Firstly, your income must be less than the following amounts:
- Single – $90,000 per year
- Couples – $144,000 per year
- Couples with circumstantial separation – $180,000 per year
If you have children under the age of 18 years in your care, $639.60 per child is added to these amounts. There is no assets test to satisfy.
Next, the “deemed” amount from your account based income streams is defines as the:
Deeming is a set of rules used to work out the income created from your financial assets. It assumes these assets earn a set rate of income, no matter what they really earn.https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/deeming?context=21966
Commonwealth Seniors Card benefits
Having a seniors health card helps with the cost of living by providing benefits such as:
- cheaper medicines under the PBS
- bulk-billed GP visits (your GP will decide this)
- refunds for medical costs after reaching the Medicare Safety Net
- reduced electricity and gas bills
- reduced property and water rates
- lowered cost of healthcare services such as ambulance, eye and dental care
- cheaper public transport
The new limits have been warmly welcomed in the current economic environment. Everyone is experiencing pressure due to the increased cost of living, with those previously ineligible for the seniors card, being no exception.