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Explained: The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

elderly man speaking to doctor

You’re probably aware of the Australian Seniors Card that offers a huge range of benefits and exclusive discounts to cardholders. But many people overlook the support a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) can provide.

The CSHC is a means-tested card that provides concessions on health-related costs for eligible seniors.

It gives you access to cheaper medicines and medical bulk billing, as well as several other state and federal concessions.

Read: Seniors card – who can get one?

So, what is the CSHC and how do you know if you’re eligible?

The CSHC explained
The CSHC is not the same as a Health Care Card or a Low Income Health Care Card, even though these concession cards are also issued by Services Australia. These cards have different eligibility requirements and income tests to the CSHC.

The CSHC is a concession card to get cheaper healthcare and some lifestyle discounts if you’ve reached Age Pension age.

Are you eligible for the CSHC?
You can apply for a CSHS if you meet these requirements.

You must have reached your Age Pension eligibility age
Your Age Pension age depends on your date of birth. It is currently 66 years and 6 months, but is progressively being increased to age 67 for all Australians from 1 July 2023. So, if your birthdate is on or after 1 January 1957, your Age Pension age is 67.

You cannot qualify for certain other payments
You cannot qualify for any payment from Services Australia or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). This means you can’t be entitled to receive an Age or DVA Pension.

You must live in Australia and meet the residence rules
You must be living in Australia when you claim a CSHC and must be an Australian citizen, hold a permanent visa, or hold a Special Category Visa as a New Zealand citizen living in Australia. You must continue to meet the residence rules the whole time you are using the CSHC.

Most newly arrived residents have to wait several years before being eligible for the CSHC.

You must provide a Tax File Number (TFN)
You must provide Services Australia with your TFN or be exempt from doing so.

You need to meet the identity requirements
You will need to prove your identity to Services Australia before you are entitled to receive a CSHC.

If you are claiming a benefit from Services Australia for the first time, you need to provide an acceptable photo identity document (such as drivers’ licence or passport) in person at a service centre. Otherwise, you will need to provide your existing Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN).

Read: Allowances and discounts you should know about

Your income must fall under the annual CSHC income threshold
The CSHC income threshold is different to the Age Pension income test. There is no asset test for the CSHC and assets such as your family home are not counted.

To meet the income test, the assessable income must be below the following thresholds:

  • $57,761 for singles
  • $92,416 for couples
  • $115,522 for couples separated by illness, respite care or prison.

If you are caring for a child, you can earn an extra $639.60 per year.

You may be eligible for a CSHC even if you are no longer receiving a pension because of changes to:

  • your income and assets
  • the pension assets test on 1 January 2017.

You may also be eligible for a CSHC if you are widowed or separated from a partner who receives either:

  • Age Pension
  • invalidity service pension.

If you already have a Pensioner Concession Card (PCC), you will not be eligible for a CSHC.

Health benefits provided
You can get cheaper prescription medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The benefits include:

  • prescriptions at the concession rate of $6.80 each
  • free prescriptions once you spend up to the PBS Safety Net limit in a calendar year.

Your GP may also be able to bulk bill your medical appointments.

Read: Safety net helps with bill shock

Benefits for other living costs
You can also use your card to get discounts and concessions on:

  • electricity and gas bills
  • property and water rates
  • ambulance services
  • dental treatment
  • eye care
  • public transport fares.

To find out more about the CSHC, visit the Services Australia website.

Do you have a CSHC? Were you aware that you might be eligible to receive one? Let us know in the comments section below.

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