O'Donnell Kerr Financial Planners
  • 15 July, 2020

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card – Do I qualify?

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) is a concession card issued to a person who is old enough, but not entitled, to receive either an age pension or a Veterans Affairs service pension .  Card holders are entitled to concessions in relation to their health care and the purchase of prescription medication.  Further, depending on location, card holders may also be able to access state or local government concessions as well.

The CSHC, unlike the pension, is not subject to an assets test. In other words, the value of the assets you have invested or own will not preclude you from qualifying for the CSHC. However, the CSHC is subject to an income test.  

The income test considers both your adjusted taxable income and, if you do have an account-based pension, the assessed deemed income based on the pension balance.

To pass the income test, the combination of your adjusted taxable income and any deemed income assessed on an account-based pension needs to be less than:

  • Single $55,808 p.a.

  • Couple $89,290 p.a. (combined)

  • Couples living separately due to illness $111,616 p.a. (combined)

These thresholds are adjusted on 20 September each year.

The adjusted taxable income is based on your taxable income (evidenced by your notification of assessment from your last tax return).  This taxable income amount is adjusted by any investment losses plus any reportable superannuation contributions, employer fringe benefits or foreign income.

If the notification of assessment references your final year of employment or the last year that your business was operating, you are able to provide an estimate of your income; providing, of course ,you are no longer working or operating your business.

To this adjusted taxable income is added the deemed income on any account-based pension that you may have.  As an example, if the value of your account based pension was $1.5 million dollars, for a single person the first $53,000 of the balance would be assessed as earning 0.25% and the remaining $1,447,000 would be assessed as earning 2.25% meaning the total deemed income on the pension would be $32,690.  It’s important to note that the actual income being drawn from the account-based pension has no bearing on the income that is assessed.

Therefore, provided your adjusted taxable income or the estimate of your income is less than $23,118 for that year, you would be entitled to a CSHC.

I should point out that if one member of a couple reaches the appropriate age and does apply for a CSHC, the partner’s adjusted taxable income is still taken to account, even if they do not yet quality for their own CSHC. The total combined income as a couple would need to be less than $89,290.

Over the last twelve months, the deeming percentage rates have reduced substantially and I believe there may be people of qualifying age with large account-based pensions who may now be eligible for a CSHC. For example, a couple both of qualifying age with no other investments or income other than their account based pension income stream would each be entitled to a CSHAC even if they had a combined balance of $4 million.

For a  healthy person, the CSHC may not seem to offer many concessions, but the difference in prescription prices compared to those who do not have a CSHC can be substantial. 

If you are unsure if you are entitled to a CSHC, speak to someone who can look at your circumstances and advise you of your correct entitlement.

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