Q. I have recently turned 65 and will be ineligible for the Age Pension due to the Assets Test.  I have been told I can apply for the Commonwealth Seniors health Card (CSHC).  What is this and what benefits do I receive?

A. The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) is a concession card that is available to individuals who are Australian resident, of Age Pension age, who do not qualify for the Age Pension due to their level of income or assets.

The benefits of the CSHC include discounted prescriptions for Medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Once the PBS Safety net has been reached, you will receive PBS prescriptions without charge for the remainder of the calendar year.  You are entitled to access to Bulk Billed Doctor visits if these are provided by your Doctor. Additionally, access to a larger refund for medical costs when you exceed the Medicare safety net.

Those lucky enough to have had the CSHC issued prior to 19 September 2016 receive an energy supplement of $366.60 a year for a single person and $551.20 a year for a couple.  Those issued with a card from 20 September 2016 to 19 March 2017 had these entitlements cease at 20 March 2017.  Those receiving the CSHC after this date do not receive this benefit.

Unlike the Age Pension, the CSHC is not subject to the Asset test however it is subject to an income test threshold.  The threshold limit is income of $52,796 a year as a single or $84,472 a year as a couple.

Since 1 January 2015, new Account based pensions such as Allocated Pensions have been deemed for income test purposes.  As a single person, the first $49,200 of assets are deemed to earn 1.75% and assets in excess of this figure 3.25%. If you’re a member of a couple the first $81,600 of your combined financial investments are deemed to earn an income of 1.75% and then 3.25% thereafter.  If you had an Account-based pension established prior to 1 January 2015, this asset is grandfathered from deeming unless you lose your entitlement to receive the Age pension.

In your case, as you are ineligible to receive the Age Pension due to the Assets test, any Account based Pension would be deemed for income assessment purposes.

To apply, contact the Department of Human Services and request an application for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.  If you have previously been issued a Centrelink Customer Access Number, this number remains current.  Applications can be made online at www.humanservices.gov.au .

Those over age 60 are also entitled to apply for a Seniors card which is issued by your State or Territory Governments.  Broadly speaking you are eligible to receive the card if you are over age 60 working 20 hours or less per week.  The Seniors Card is not means tested and is available to Australian Residents.

Benefits may include access to discounted public transport.  Discounts on electricity and gas bills, property and water rates.  Discounts on education programmes and entry to cultural and recreation facilities.

Eligibility conditions and benefits do vary slightly so check with your State or Territory Government.

For further information; NSW residents the website is www.seniorscard.nsw.gov.au .  Victorian residents the website is www.seniorsonline.vic.gov.au .  ACT residents the website is www.actseniorscard.org.au . WA the website is www.seniorscard.wa.gov.au.  For NT and all other states, visit your government website.