If you are not eligible for the Age Pension, you may still be eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC). Read on to find out everything you need to know about the CSHC, including the benefits, eligibility requirements, how to apply and how to manage your card if you receive one.
The national benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
The CSHC is a concession card that gives you the following benefits:
- Cheaper prescriptions for medications listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
- The ability to bulk bill your doctor’s visits if you choose a doctor who offers bulk billing
- Access to the Extended Medicare Safety Net. This provides you with a larger Medicare refund for your annual out-of-hospital costs.
The above benefits are for all CSHC card holders.
Different states also provide additional benefits depending on where you live.
State benefits of the CSHC
The table below gives a geographic breakdown of the additional CSHC benefits available in different locations.
|New South Wales
|The New South Wales Seniors Energy Rebate (currently $200 per year to cover electricity costs only)
The Regional Seniors Travel Card (currently a $250 prepaid card to cover travel costs)
|The Essential Medical Equipment Payment (this is an annual payment of $183 per year for each piece of essential medical equipment that you have in your Victorian home, as well as a payment of $183 to cover the higher energy costs of your equipment)
|The Oral Health Scheme (this provides you with free dental care if you have a CSHC and meet the scheme’s other eligibility requirements)
|The Cost of Living Concession (currently an annual payment of $122 for CSHC holders who meet the other eligibility requirements)
The Emergency Services Levy (currently an annual payment of $46 for your principal place of residence)
Energy bill concessions
Residential park resident concessions (to help with the cost of energy, water and sewerage bills if you live in a caravan park – the amount varies depending on whether you own your caravan or are renting)
|The Energy Concession Extension Scheme (currently a payment of $326.33 if you meet the other eligibility requirements)
Water Corporation Rebate (currently a rebate of up to 50% on water charges up to a maximum of $600)
|The Transport Access Scheme (a 50% concession on the cost of taxi travel for CSHC holders with a permanent and severe disability, up to a maximum of $25 per journey)
|Australian Capital Territory
|No current additional benefits
|No current additional benefits
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card eligibility requirements
You need to meet the following six criteria to be eligible for the CSHC:
- You must have attained your Age Pension eligibility age, which is age 67 from 1 July 2023.
- You must live in Australia and be an Australian citizen, permanent visa holder or a New Zealand citizen living in Australia.
- You must not be receiving any payments from Services Australia or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- You must have a tax file number.
- You must prove your identity.
- Your income must be below the thresholds of an income test. These thresholds are explained in more detail below. Unlike the Age Pension, there is no assets test you need to pass to be eligible for the CSHC.
The thresholds for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test
The annual thresholds for the CSHC income test (applying from 20 September 2023) are outlined in the table below.
|Couples living together
|Couple separated by illness, respite care or prison
If you have any children in your care, you can add $639.60 per child to your annual threshold amount.
Your adjusted taxable income
- Foreign income (including tax-exempt foreign income)
- Investment losses
- Reportable fringe benefits
- Superannuation contributions
- Some tax-free pensions.
Your deemed income
Any investment assets you have (such as savings accounts, term deposits or shares) are currently deemed to be earning 2.25% annual income for the purposes of the CSHC income test once they exceed minimum thresholds ($60,400 for singles and $100,200 for couples), regardless of whether you are earning more or less than that deemed rate. This rate is periodically reviewed as market conditions change.
You can use the PensionHelp CSHC calculator as a guide to determine your income test eligibility for the CSHC before you formally apply to Services Australia.
How to apply
You can apply for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card online via Services Australia. You should check that you meet all of the eligibility requirements before you begin your application. You should also make sure that you have supporting documents to prove that you meet all of the eligibility requirements.
In addition, if you don’t already have one, you will need to set up a myGov account and link it to Centrelink before you can apply for the CSHC.
How to manage your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
Once you have your CSHC, you have an obligation to let Services Australia know within 14 days if there is a change to your name, address or income. You also need to let them know within 14 days if your care arrangements change or if you:
- Return to work
- No longer have to lodge a tax return
- Are leaving Australia.
If you lose your card, you can request a replacement online or at a Services Australia Service Centre. However, it will take up to a week to be made and mailed to you.
Even though you may not be eligible for the Age Pension, you may still be eligible for the Commonwealth Health Seniors Card and it can provide you with a range of cheaper health care benefits.
The information in this article is general in nature.