Make sure you’re not missing out on valuable support payments

If you qualify for the Age Pension, chances are you also qualify for at least one additional support payment or discount. Here’s a checklist to ensure you’re not missing out on payments that could help you balance the budget. 

Rent Assistance

Rent Assistance, as the name suggests, is an additional payment available to renters on an income support payment, such as the Age Pension. 

There’s a minimum amount of rent you need to pay to get Rent Assistance. For every $1 of rent you pay above this amount, you’ll get 75 cents. You can’t get more than the maximum amount. Rent Assistance rates are indexed biannually on 20 March and 20 September in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). 

Only people who pay private rent are eligible for Rent Assistance. If you rent from a housing authority, you are not eligible. 

Family situation Maximum payment per fortnight Maximum payment is paid if your fortnightly rent is more than No payment if your fortnightly rent is less than 
Single $157.20 $350 $140.40 
Single, sharer $104.80 $280.14 $140.40 
Couple $148 $424.74 $227.40 
One of a couple separated due to illness $157.20 $350 $140.40 
One of a couple temporarily separated $148.00 $337.74 $140.40 

Carer Allowance

The Carer Allowance is paid in addition to the pension if you give daily care to someone who has a disability, serious illness or mobility issues. Previously, the Carer Allowance was not income or assets tested but since 2018 it has been subject to a combined annual income limit of $250,000. 

You’ll need to make a separate claim for the Carer Allowance and will most likely be required to provide supporting documents as evidence for your claim. You can apply through your myGov account or through the Services Australia website

If you’re providing care to someone aged 16 or older, the Carer Allowance is $144.80 each fortnight. 

If the person you’re providing care for is under 16, you will still receive $144.80 per fortnight if the child is classed as ‘high needs’. If the child is classed as ‘low needs’ you won’t receive the payment, but will receive a Health Care Card for discount services for the child. 

Energy Supplement

The Energy Supplement is a support payment designed specifically to help with energy costs (electricity and gas) for those receiving a government support payment such as the Age Pension. 

The amount you can receive each fortnight is based on your relationship status – singles (including illness separated, partner in respite care or prison) can get $14.10 per fortnight, while those in a couple relationship can get $10.60 per fortnight. 

If you qualify for the Energy Supplement (assessed when you apply for an Age Pension), then you will automatically receive the payment. There is no need for a separate application. 

Remote Area Allowance

This is an additional payment available to people receiving a government payment who are living in places designated as remote areas by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). All states and territories except Victoria and the ACT have areas classified as remote. 

You are also eligible for the allowance if you don’t receive a government payment, but move to a remote area and intend to stay for more than 12 months. 

The allowance is $18.20 per fortnight for singles and $15.60 for each member of a couple. You don’t need to make a separate application for the Remote Area Allowance, as this will be assessed when you make your initial Age Pension application. 

Pension Supplement

The Pension Supplement is a general support payment to “help with utility, phone, internet and medicine costs” for those receiving a government payment. 

The amount is calculated based on the basic Pension Supplement rate combined with the rate of other government payments you’re receiving. 

For singles, the basic Pension Supplement rate is $27.20 per fortnight. The minimum supplement per fortnight you’ll receive is $42.20 and the maximum is $78.40. 

For couples, the basic rate is $44.80 per fortnight, the minimum payment is $63.60 (or $31.80 each) and the maximum per fortnight is $118.20 (or $59.10 each). 

If you’re a couple, but separated due to illness, respite or prison, the rates are same as if you were single. 

There is no need to make a separate application for the Pension Supplement, as it will be assessed when you apply for the pension. 

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC)

The CSHC is intended for people of Age Pension age who do not qualify for the pension. The card provides discounts on a number of health-related services. 

It gives access to cheaper medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), allows for bulk billing in certain doctors’ surgeries and gives a refund on any medical costs incurred above the Medicare Safety Net

The card is means-tested, and currently you must earn below $90,000 per year if you’re single, $144,000 a year for couples and $180,000 a year for couples separated by illness, respite care or prison. 

In addition, the income limits grow by $639.60 per annum for each child in your care.

Pensioner Concession Card (PCC)

Similar to the CSHC, the PCC also gives cheaper access to medical services for pensioners but is intended for those who also receive the Age Pension. The discounts are usually greater than on the CSHC.

The PCC gives you cheaper medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, bulk-billed doctor visits, a bigger refund for medical costs when you reach the Medicare Safety Net plus help with hearing services, such as the Hearing Services Program.

There is no need to make a separate application for the PCC and it will be sent to you automatically if you qualify.

Health Care Card (HCC)

The HCC is another health-related concession card that offers similar benefits but is for people receiving the ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Austudy, JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment, Special Benefit or Youth Allowance.

You can also get a card for a period of up to 12 months if you get any of the following payments: Carer Allowance for a child under 16 years of age (the card is sent to you but is in the name of the child), Carer Payment for short-term or irregular care for less than six months, the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit A or the Mobility Allowance if you are not receiving a Disability Support Pension.

Seniors Card

Finally, the Seniors Card is a discount card issued by the various state and territory governments, rather than the federal government. Accordingly, what the card covers differs slightly from state to state but usually relates to businesses in that state frequented by seniors.

You can qualify for a Seniors Card if you are 60 years or over, work less than 20 hours paid hours per week and are a permanent resident of Australia residing in the state or territory where you apply for it.

Do you qualify for any of these support payments? Are there any you didn’t know about? Let us know in the comments section below.

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I receive the nominal CSHC and the fairly pointless Seniors Card (with free rail travel on Sundays???) but with share returns still so low, I earn far less than an OAP with their benefits.
    The Govt’s view is that I waste what I need to, to bring my assets down before they will bring my living standard up to that of an Old Age Pensioner.

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