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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.
Low Income Health Care Card
The Low Income Health Care Card (LIHCC) 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)||$524||$4,192|
|Couple, combined (no children)||$906||$7,248|
|Single, one dependent child||$906||$7,248|
|For each additional dependent child add||$34||$272|
Note the limits in the above tables are current as of 1 January, 2014
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) 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.
1 January 2015 Changes
From 1 January 2015, deeming will apply to superannuation pensions, such as account-based pensions, for the purpose of the income test for both health cards. This change will impact how many seniors qualify for the CSHC in the future.
Grandfathering will mean deeming will not apply to existing CSHC holders who have an account-based pension prior to 1 January 2015. However, if you change your account-based pension to a new product after 1 January 2015, deeming will apply to the new pension.
No grandfathering will apply for LIHCC holders.
For more information regarding these upcoming changes, please see my related post.