Getting older is something to celebrate, and as a senior in Australia, there are important concessions that become available to you as you age. Sometimes, these added benefits can be worth their weight in gold.
If you’re over the age of 60, you might not know that you’re entitled to a collection of rewards which continue to help you out as you age. By using your Seniors Card proactively, as well as taking the time to compare your existing health fund—you could potentially reduce some of your financial strain.
The Seniors Card is one of many benefits available to all eligible Australians who are no longer working full-time. Seniors cards are part of a free service issued by every state in Australia. They enable holders to receive a wide range of discounts on public and commercial activities—especially useful for those who may have retired or work fewer hours but do not yet qualify for the Age Pension.
The team at Health Insurance Comparison has compiled a quick breakdown of the concessions and eligibility criteria, so you can start accessing the benefits you’ve earned as a mature Australian as quickly as possible.
What is the Seniors Card?
For older Australians, your Seniors Card is the ultimate way to get discounts. Each state and territory has its own card, with varied arrangements when using your card in other states. To put it simply, your card can give you transport concessions and access to discounts from participating businesses on a range of goods and services. This is different to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
Which states are eligible for the Seniors Card?
Each state and territory has their own Seniors Card scheme. Depending on your location, you can receive a concession on things like your energy and gas bill, rates, medical aids, public transport and taxis and recreation centres. You can use your Seniors Card from one state in another state or territory when you’re travelling around.
What can I get with my Seniors Card?
Benefits provided by your state Seniors Card include the below:
|States||Eligibility age||Work hour requirement||Benefits|
|QLD||65 (or 60 if applicant holds Commonwealth Concession Card, Centrelink or DVA)||<35 hours||
|QLD||60 (Seniors Business Discount Card)||None||
|ACT||61 (every 2 years, increase by 1 year until 65 by 2025)||<20 hours||
|WA||62 (each year, increase by 1 year until 65)||<25 hours||
While the eligibility criteria in each state are similar, some points differ so make sure you check out your state-specific eligibility at //www.australia.gov.au/content/seniors-card.
It’s important to keep in mind that some shops frequently display a ‘Seniors Card Welcome’ sticker, and that it never hurts to ask any business whether your Seniors Card could get you a discount somewhere. For a comprehensive list of discounts, head to //www.australia.gov.au/content/seniors-card.
What is the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC)?
The CSHC is a concession card some seniors can use to get cheaper health care and some discounts if you’ve reached pension age. It can also provide discounts on prescription medications, low or no cost government-funded medical services and other government concessions.
Benefits set by the card could:
- reduce your health care costs, including ambulance, dental and eye care
- give you cheaper medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
- cover your doctor visit as bulk billed (this is fully at the discretion of your doctor)
- offer you a bigger refund for medical costs when you reach the Medicare Safety Net
Who is eligible to receive cheaper medicines and government-funded medical services using the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
To qualify for a Commonwealth Senior Health Card you must be 65 or over (having reached pension age), and meet the income test and residence requirements (are an Australian resident currently living in Australia). You must not qualify for a payment from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. If you are eligible, you could receive a reduction in the cost of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescription medicines, as well as discounts or concession for bulk billed GP visits, and cheaper out-of-hospital medical expenses.
- You must be of Age Pension qualifying age (65 years or older)
- You must not be eligible for Age Pension payments or a Veterans’ Pension payment
- You must meet an income test
- You must provide your Tax File Number to the Australian Department of Human Services
- You must live in Australia (as either an Australian resident or a special visa holder)
- You must not work more than a set numbers of hours per week in paid employment
The income test is that your taxable income**, including superannuation payments from account-based pensions, must be less than:
Singles: $53,799 per year
Couples combined (couples living together): $86,076
Couples separated by illness, respite care, or prison: $107,598
Plus $639.60 for each dependent child you care for.
For a list of more comprehensive information about the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, please visit: //www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/commonwealth-seniors-health-card.
One final thing
Though the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card may give you some health concessions, it won’t directly save you money on your health insurance. However, your government rebate increases at age 65, and then again at age 70 depending on your income, which may help your situation.
Eligibility criteria and concessions available vary depending on your state or territory, so it’s always a good idea to contact your local council or Seniors Card office for further details.
Want to save more on health?
This is where we can help. On top of the savings you could get from your Seniors Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, you could also save more by comparing your existing health insurance plan with us. Aussies who compared with Health Insurance Comparison saved $362.38* off their yearly premiums last year alone. So while you’re here, why not compare your existing health cover? Thousands of senior Australians have already jumped on board, and comparing with the team at Health Insurance Comparison could offer you significant savings.
*Average savings based off 14,534 customers in 2018
**These earning amounts are valid as of May 2018. The numbers are reviewed by the Australian Department of Human Services on the 20th of September each year, in line with inflation.
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This article is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.