By Steve Blizard 14 November 2016
While 313,000 self-funded retirees will be impact by the new Asset Test from 1 January 2017, fortunately, the Coalition government wasn’t silly enough to extend the aged pension cut-backs to concession cards, thus minimising the risk to these retirees of losing their pharmacy discounts.
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) helps with the cost of prescription medicines and other services, if you are of pension age, but don’t qualify for the age pension.
Eligibility is based on an income test of $52,796 if you are single; $84,472 for couples combined, or $105,592 combined for couples separated by illness or respite care.
The separate Pensioner concession card (PCC) is available to people receiving a full or part pension, as well as for certain other social security recipients.
The PCC entitles you to concessions for medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
If also offers significant discounts, providing extra concessions from state and local government authorities, such as council rates, public transport and motor vehicle registration.
However, existing retirees who are set to lose the entire age pension due to the 1 Jan 2017 asset test will still not miss out on entitlement to government health concession cards.
While their PCC will be cancelled at the same time as their age pension, it will be replaced by a low-income health care card (LIHCC) plus a CSHC card.
The LIHCC, similar to the PCC, offers chemist prescriptions at a discounted $6.20, in addition to entitlements to the Medicare safety net that provides compensation for any out-of-pocket expenses associated with services provided through Medicare.
Where offered by different State governments, the LIHCC card will also entitle holders to discounts on water, gas and electricity bills, motor vehicle registrations and public transport concessions.
While the CSHC duplicates the chemist and medical concessions offered by the LIHCC, the difference between both card entitlements is an automatic lifetime exemption from the income test requirements.
This automatic exemption is a special concession that will only be available to those who retire before January 1, 2017.
Anyone retiring after this date needs to satisfy the income tests.