I am often asked what the Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card (CSHC) is, what the benefits are for a card holder, and how to apply?
The CSHC entitles you to access medications listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at a cheaper rate. bulk-billed doctor visits (if offered by your doctor), and some State or Local Government concessions, depending on where you live.
To qualify for the CSHC you must be of Age Pension age and not in receipt of a Centrelink pension or benefit, nor a Service or Age Pension from the Veterans Affairs Department.
You must be an Australian resident and living in Australia on the day you lodge your claim.
This all seems straight forward but like most government benefits or entitlements, there is a means test.
The good news is there is no assets test, in other words your entitlement to the CSHC is not determined by the value of the assets you own.
However, your entitlement to the CSHC is still subject to an income test.
Currently, your adjusted taxable income plus any deemed income on an account-based pension needs to be below $55,808 for a single person and $89,290 for a couple.
So, what is included in your adjusted taxable income? Included items are:
- taxable income – if you are not required to lodge a tax return, an estimate your income including any interest on investments and bank accounts is required
- adjusted fringe benefits
- any foreign income you receive, on which you are not required to pay tax
- your total net investment loss, including property and financial investment losses. These losses are added back into your assessable income
- reportable superannuation contributions
It does sound a little complicated and if you are unsure, make sure you talk to a person who understand what is required.
When your application is approved the CSHC is only issued for a 12-month period. A new card is issued automatically by Centrelink before the old card expires, assuming of course your situation is unchanged. It is important to remember that you are responsible for notifying Centrelink within 14 days if any of the following occurs:
- your personal circumstances change
- you change your address
- your income changes
- you return to work
- you do not have to lodge a tax return
- you are leaving Australia either permanently or for an extended overseas holiday i.e. longer than 19 weeks
If you do not notify Centrelink of the changes and depending on the reasons why you have failed to notify Centrelink, you could be charged with fraud, so it is important that you do take these obligations seriously.
As a new added feature, you no longer need to carry your card in your wallet or purse. You can lodge a digital copy of the card onto your Digital Wallet on your Smart device.
I must admit, being from the old school, l I do find that with the size of some of the smart phones it may be easier to carry the card in your real wallet!
So, if after reading today’s blog you think you may have an entitlement to the CSHC, talk to someone to confirm your eligibility. Don’t delay. Make sure you lodge a claim and test your eligibility before 27 November. Why before this date? If you are entitled a CSHC you will also be entitled to the Governments Economic Support payment of $250 which will be made in early December.