Potential seniors entitlements

Posted on 15th July 2020 by Christabelle Harris

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Australian economy, the Government reduced the deeming rates that are used by the Department of Social Services (via Centrelink) for income test calculation purposes.  The reduction in the deeming rates means that more self-funded retirees are eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC).

We have summarised the key points for the WA Seniors Card and the CSHC including eligibility and how to apply below but please contact our superannuation manager Helen Cooper if you need assistance.

WA Seniors Card – Department of Communities

WA Seniors Card Holders are entitled to a range of government concessions and discounts. The Seniors Card is combined with the Transperth SmartRider card.  Benefits include:

  • Concession fares plus free off-peak travel through Transperth at certain times on weekdays and free travel on weekends and public holidays.
  • 50% concession on regional transport through Transwa services
  • Rebate of up to 25% on Water & Local Government Rate charges capped at $100 each; if a property is owned with a non-concession cardholder, the amount of rebate is reduced accordingly.  (Please see the additional benefits on the following page if you also hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card)
  • 25% rebate for Emergency Services Levy included in Rates Notice
  • 50% rebate on driver’s licence
  • Discounted entry to the Art Gallery, Museum, Perth Zoo, National Parks and Rottnest Island accommodation – refer to the Concessions WA website for further information
  • A Directory from over 600 businesses is posted to all Seniors Card holders every 2 years and can be sourced online.

To qualify:

  • To be eligible you need to be aged 63 years or above, please refer to the table below
  • Working less than 25 hours per week of paid employment (averaged over 12-month period)
  • Permanent Resident of Australia

The WA Seniors Card is a lifelong card that does not need to be renewed as long as the eligibility criteria are met.

  • Application Form is available on the Department of Communities WA Seniors Card Centre website www.seniorscard.wa.gov.au
  • Download the Application Form from the above website or pick up a copy at the WA Seniors Card
  • Centre or at your local Australia Post outlet
  • Telephone 6551 8800 or 1800 671 233 (country free call)
  • Email: info@seniorscard.wa.gov.au

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card – Department of Human Services

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card is available to self-funded retirees who have reached Age Pension age (currently 66 years or older for both men and women) and who are not eligible to receive the Government Age Pension. This health card is subject to an adjusted taxable income test plus any deemed amount from account-based pensions.  There is no assets test applicable.

If you hold a Seniors Card AND a Seniors Health Card you are entitled to receive:

  • 50% rebate on WA annual Water and Council Rate charges capped at $600 for Water Service Charges and $750 for Local government rates for the 2020 rating year (see Notes below)
  • 50% rebate on Emergency Services Levy included in Council Rates (see Notes below)
  • 100% rebate on Driver’s licence (see Notes below)
  • 50% rebate on vehicle licence fee (see Notes below)
  • Discounts on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescription medicines
  • Government provides financial incentives for GPs to bulk-bill concession card holders
  • Reduction in the cost of out of hospital medical expenses through Medicare Safety Net
  • Concessional travel on Great Southern Rail services (The Ghan, Indian Pacific and The Overland)

Notes: Both the Water & Local Council rebates are claimed online through the Water Corporation in the one form. If a property is owned with a non-concession cardholder, the amount of rebate is reduced accordingly.

The vehicle and driver’s licence concessions are claimed on the same Department of Transport

Application for Concession – C1 form which currently needs to be posted or presented by hand.

To qualify:

  • Reached Pension Age – currently 66 years or older
  • From 1 July 2021 the qualifying age for Age Pension will increase to 66 years and 6 months reaching 67 years from 1 July 2023
  • You do not qualify for the Age Pension or Veteran Affairs benefits
  • Australian Resident
  • As at 20 September 2019, have an annual adjusted taxable income of less than:
    • $55,808 if you are single
    • $89,290 for couples
    • $111,616 couples separated due to ill health or respite care

Note – Adjusted Taxable income is the sum of:

  • Taxable income as per your personal Australian Taxation Office Notice of Assessment
  • Add total net investment loss – e.g. rental property and financial investment losses
  • Add any foreign income received that wasn’t taxable
  • Add the value of any employer provided benefits above $1,000 – e.g. Car, Health Insurance
  • Add reportable superannuation contributions and reportable fringe benefits
  • If you are granted a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card on or after 1 January 2015, deemed income from an Account Based Pension entitlement including income deemed from an Account Based Pension owned by a card holder’s partner who is aged 60 years or more.

The Deeming rates are generally updated annually in July however adjustments were made as part of the COVID-19 stimulus packages announced in March 2020 lowering the deeming rates.

Based on the above rates, if for example you have no other taxable income, you can qualify for the Commonwealth Seniors card if your Account Based Pension entitlement/s are below the following:

  • Single – Account Based Pension entitlement of $2,526,400 = deemed income of $55,808
  • Couples – Combined Account Based Pension entitlements of $4,045,066 = deemed income of $89,290

If your investment return is higher than the deemed income, the extra income does not count towards your assessable income. You may be able to get a deeming exemption in some cases.

There is no asset test applicable to the Commonwealth Seniors Card.

You can apply for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card if you already have a Centrelink online account or through your myGov account linked to Centrelink. Otherwise print and complete the Claim for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card form available on the Human Services website www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/forms/sa296.

You will need to provide supporting information including a DVA Schedule or complete an additional form ‘Details of Income Stream Product’ in relation to any Account Based Pensions held.

Alternatively, please contact our Helen Cooper at our office if you need assistance with completing an application or if you are unsure if you qualify.

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