Explained: Low Income Health Care Card

low income health care card

Even if you’re not eligible for any benefits from Centrelink, you may qualify for a Low Income Health Care Card if your income falls below the qualifying limits.

Holders of a Low Income Health Care Card are entitled to cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). You may also be entitled to concessions offered by private companies and concessions on energy bills, healthcare costs, public transport, water rates, etc, but as these are issued by state, territory and local governments, they may vary depending on where you live.

Who can get a Low Income Health Care Card?

The card is available to those who hold Australian citizenship, a permanent visa, a Special Category visa and certain temporary visas such as a Partner Provisional or Temporary Protection visa.

Your income in the past eight weeks must not exceed the limits outlined below.

Qualifying income limits

 Status Weekly income Eight-week period
 Single, no children $680 $5440
 Couple, no children $1166 $9328

There is no assets test for the card but it is subject to a 12-monthly renewal. To renew your card your income must again be no greater than quoted in the table above.

Retaining income limits

Once you have been granted a Low Income Health Care Card, your weekly income must not exceed the limits detailed below. If you exceed the limit, you lose use of the card. You must advise Centrelink of any changes in your income and it will work out whether you still qualify to use the card.

 Status Weekly income Eight-week period
 Single, no children $850 $6800
 Couple, no children $1457.50 $11,660

Examples of income Centrelink assess include:

  • employment income, such as wages, salary and self-employment income
  • employer provided fringe benefits
  • rental income
  • super contributions
  • any Centrelink payments you receive.

Is there an assets test for the Low Income Health Care Card?

Although there is no assets test, any assets you own will be subject to deeming rates to determine any income they generate for you, whether or not the assets actually generate said income.

From 1 January 2023, income you receive from the sale of your principal home is not counted for the purposes of the Low Income Health Card for a period of 24 months.

Proceeds from your home sale to be used to secure a new principal home will be deemed at the lower rate only (0.25 per cent). Any extra sale proceeds held in a financial asset will be subject to the regular deeming rates (2.25 per cent).

If you’re building a new home, the land is also exempt for up to 24 months. This only applies if the land value is less than the amount you got from the sale of your home.

How to apply for a Low Income Health Care Card

You can apply for a Low Income Health Care Card online through your myGov account. You will need to supply supporting documents including payslips, employment records and bank statements as well as the usual identity and tax documents.

To find out more about claiming for a Low Income Health Care Card, the residency requirements and what is included as income, visit ServicesAustralia.gov.au.

Have you tried applying for a Low Income Health Card? How did you find the process? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.

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  1. This is not equatable……..Partner is unable to work. Is receiving NDIS funding for his disabilities.
    His medical expenses have increased dramatically. He requires ongoing pain relief injections and hospitalization for his disability. He receives no income or pension support because his wife works full time.
    Why is the working partner expected to foot the increased medical expenses for her partner…already only on one income, paying Private Health and all other household expenses. Surely he should get Health Care assistance, which he does not get through NDIS?

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