Health card may be key to $750 payment

Updated 6 July 2020

Everyone ticks off items on their to-do list at their own pace. Just ask my husband. But if your tardiness was set to cost you $750, it’s likely you might find the time sooner rather than later. Right?

With the new financial year comes a raft of changes to Age Pension thresholds, superannuation and banking, and fresh COVID stimulus payments. It’s time to assess whether you may now qualify for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC), which would make you eligible for the $750 payment.

The federal government’s second support payment is due to be sent to eligible Australians from 13 July. If you hold a CSHC, you automatically qualify for the payment.

Also, if your retirement income has suffered and you now qualify for an Age Pension, you will also meet the requirement for the stimulus. Disqualifying limits for the Age Pension changed on 1 July – find the details here – and revised deeming rates took effect on 1 May. Both may have had an impact on whether you are eligible for an Age Pension – or for an increase if you receive a part pension.

But here’s how to assess whether you qualify for a CSHC.

Services Australia advises that you must be of Age Pension age but not eligible to claim an Age Pension, and you must pass an income test, which looks at your adjusted taxable income and a deemed amount from account-based income streams.

If you are a single, you must earn no more than $55,808 a year; if a couple, no more than $89,290 a year, and if a couple separated by illness, respite care or prison, no more than $111,616 a year. If you have a child in your care, you are entitled to add $639.60 per child.

Services Australia will look at your account-based income streams, such as pensions and annuities. It says the balance of an account-based income stream is subject to deeming – currently 2.25 per cent for amounts above $51,800 for singles and for amounts above $43,100 for couples. But deeming will only apply if:

  • you bought or changed the investment on or after 1 January 2015
  • you own it and Services Australia granted your CSHC after 31 December 2014
  • your partner owns it and he or she is 60 or older.

There is no assets test for a CSHC.

The government advises that the second $750 payment will be made available to the same recipients who were eligible for the first payment – and who are eligible for a qualifying payment or card on 10 July – with the exception those who are receiving the Coronovirus Supplement on that date. This will exclude the following payment recipients:

  • JobSeeker Payment (and the payments transitioning into JobSeeker Payment including Sickness Allowance, Wife Pension and Bereavement Allowance)
  • Youth Allowance for jobseekers, students and apprentices
  • Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single)
  • Austudy
  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance and
  • Special Benefit.

About 6.6 million Australians received the first $750 payment and about five million are expected to receive the second payment.

Services Australia says the funds will start appearing in accounts from 15 July.

The payment is not counted as income for social security and family tax benefit payments, aged care fees and charges and veterans’ payments. It is tax exempt and Services Australia will not use it to pay off any existing debts.

Personal finance specialist Noel Whittaker says the CSHC could be worth more than $6000 a year to recipients, singling out the reduced cost of medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as a key component.

“It’s been a tough year for retirees, with dividends slashed or suspended, stock markets around the world plunging and rents vanishing if you are a landlord. Any assistance you can get is well worth the time spent in making an application,” he says.

Have you done the sums to see if you now qualify for a CSHC? Are you aware of the additional benefits of the card?

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Written by Janelle Ward

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