Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: Are you eligible?

TAMIKA SEETO
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) can give you access to cheaper medicine, health care and some other discounts. So who is eligible and how does it work?

In this article:


How do you qualify for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?

According to Services Australia, you may be eligible for the CSHC if you:

  • Have reached Age Pension qualifying age (currently 66 years old and increasing to 67 years old by mid-2023)
  • Are not receiving payments from Service Australia (such as the Age Pension) or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Meet an income test
  • Provide your Tax File Number, unless you are exempt
  • Are living in Australia and have either Australian citizenship, a permanent visa or a Special Category visa.

What is the income test?

The income test looks at your adjusted taxable income and your deemed income from any account-based income streams. Your income includes wages and salaries and investments.

To meet the income test, Services Australia says you must earn no more than:

  • Singles: $55,808 per year
  • Couples combined (couples living together): $89,290
  • Couples separated by illness, respite care, or prison: $111,616
  • Plus $639.60 for each dependent child you care for.

These earning amounts are correct as at 9 June, 2021, and are reviewed by Services Australia on 20 September each year in line with inflation.

There is no asset test for the card.

What are the benefits of a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?

Services Australia says the CSHC may entitle you to benefits such as:

  • Cheaper medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Bulk-billed doctor appointments (this is up to your doctor)
  • Refunds for out-of-hospital medical expenses when you reach the Medicare Safety Net

Your state or territory government or local council may also give you a discount on your electricity and gas bills, property and water rates, health care costs (including ambulance, dental and eye care) and public transport fares.

According to Services Australia, you may need to show your Medicare card to get Medicare services or your CSHC to receive other benefits.

How do you apply for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?

You can apply for a CSHC online via the Services Australia website. Alternatively, you can apply over the phone or by completing a claim form. You’ll be asked to provide certain documents to support your claim.

Services Australia has information about your nearest office, if you’d like to visit a service centre. Keep in mind that due to COVID-19, some service centres may be closed or open at different times. You can also call Centrelink’s older Australian line on 132 300 from Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm for support with applying for and using the CSHC.

What is the difference between a Pensioner Concession Card and a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?

Both the Pensioner Concession Card and the CSHC give cardholders access to cheaper health care, medicine and other discounts. The main difference is that the Pensioner Concession Card is available if you receive certain payments from the government, including the Age Pension. In comparison, to qualify for the CSHC you must not be getting a payment from the government.

Each state and territory also has their own Seniors Card scheme. This gives cardholders access to cheaper public transport and discounts at participating businesses.

Do you need private health insurance if you have a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?

Even if you have the CSHC, you may still benefit from having private health insurance because it offers cover for some services not covered by Medicare. For example, your health insurer may cover some prescription medicines not covered by the PBS (depending on your policy). It could also cover:

  • Ambulance services: Some states and territories will pay for an ambulance trip if you have the card, but in other states and territories you either need to have health insurance or to pay for it out of your own pocket.
  • Out-of-hospital services such as dental, physiotherapy, optical and chiropractic.

It’s important to consider whether taking out health insurance is right for you personally though, because every individual’s situation and needs are different. There are pros and cons with private health insurance.

The article was originally published by TJ Ryan, with additional reporting by Ellie McLachlan.

Cover image source: Aleksandar Karanov/Shutterstock.com


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This content was reviewed by Sub Editor Jacqueline Belesky and Finance and Lifestyle Editor Shay Waraker as part of our fact-checking process.


Tamika covers personal finance for Canstar, specialising in banking and general insurance. She joined the team after completing a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at QUT. She has previously written for a range of news, music and arts publications.

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