There are two main types of health card for seniors currently available:
- Low Income Health Care Card
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
Both cards give you discounts on prescription medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Each card also entitles you to a range of other concessions, depending on what state you reside.
The Low Income Health Care Card is an income-based assessment. Centrelink look at your income for the previous 8-week period prior to applying for the card.
The amount of income you can earn to qualify is different depending on your family situation. ie. Single, Couple.
To apply for the card, your income must be below the following limits:
|Family Situation||Weekly Income||8-week period|
|Single (no children)||$519||$4,152|
|Couple, combined (no children)||$899||$7,192|
|Single, one dependent child||$899||$7,192|
|For each additional dependent child add||$34||$272|
Note the limits in the above tables are current as of 1 January, 2014
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is only available to those who have reached Age Pension age. So if you’ve not yet reached pension age, the Low Income Health Care Card is your only option.
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is based on taxable income. This is an important distinction as it means many self-funded retirees may be eligible for the card. If most of your income is drawn from superannuation, then your taxable income may be lower than the allowable limits. Income drawn from a superannuation fund from the age of 60 is considered tax exempt and therefore won’t be included in the income calculation for the card.
Neither card is subject to an assets test. This means they may be an alternative to those retirees whose assets are too high for an Age Pension.
A little known fact is that you are allowed to hold both cards. Why would you want to do that you ask? Extra cash! You get extra money from the Seniors Supplement by applying for the Seniors Health Card.
The Seniors Supplement is a non-taxable payment made every three months to help with regular bills such as electricity.
The rate of the Seniors Supplement is $1,214.20 a year for singles and $1,830.40 for couples, paid quarterly. These amounts include the Clean Energy Supplement and the rates are updated on 20 March and 20 September each year.
Federal Budget 2014 – Update
From 1 July 2014, the current income levels for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) will be indexed by the CPI.
If the Budget measures are passed, new applicants will also have any account-based (superannuation) pension accounts included in the assessment for determining eligibility for the card. Previously, these were not included in the assessment.
Also announced in the Budget, the Seniors Supplement will be abolished from July 1 2014.