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Factsheet IS126 - Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Purpose

This Factsheet explains who is eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC), and what the card entitles them to.

What payments does the CSHC entitle me to?

The CSHC may entitle you to a quarterly payment from DVA of energy supplement.

What concessions does the CSHC entitle me to?

The CSHC may entitle you to the following concessions:

  • pharmaceuticals (prescription medicines) at concessional rate through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • PBS Safety Net threshold at concession cardholder rate
  • additional concessions from state and local government authorities.  For more information contact the relevant department in your state or territory
  • the Medicare Safety Net threshold available to Commonwealth concession card holders.  It may also give you access to bulk billed GP appointments.  For more information visit your local Medicare office, the Medicare Australia website at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/dhs/medicare or phone 132 011.

Please note that these concessions are not determined by DVA.  However, by presenting your card to claim a concession, you consent to your CSHC eligibility being confirmed by the concession provider with DVA.

Who is eligible for a CSHC from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)?

DVA provides a CSHC to:

  • Australian, Commonwealth or allied veterans with qualifying service
  • Australian, Commonwealth or allied mariners of World War 2 with qualifying service
  • partners (including widows or widowers) of veterans or mariners with qualifying service
  • war widows or widowers including wholly dependent partners under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).

To qualify you must also:

  • be of pension age if you are a veteran with qualifying service or a partner of a veteran with qualifying service (see the section titled ‘What is pension age?’); or
  • be of qualifying age if you are a war widow or widower (see the section titled "What is qualifying age?");
  • be an Australian resident and in Australia at the time of lodging a CSHC claim;
  • not be receiving an age pension, service pension or income support supplement from DVA;
  • not be receiving a pension or benefit from Centrelink;
  • meet the seniors health card income test *; and
  • not already hold a CSHC issued by Centrelink.

* Note: - Clients over pension age whose pension was reduced to nil on 1 January 2017 as a result of changes to the assets test do not need to meet the usual CSHC income test.

*Note: - If you have a Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) from either DVA or Centrelink, you are not eligible for the CSHC.  The PCC already entitles you to the concessions that are available with the CSHC.

*Note: - If you are a non-illness separated spouse or widow of an age or invalidity service pensioner, you may also be eligible for a CSHC.  Please contact DVA for more information.

Social Security Age Pensioners previously paid by DVA

If you were previously receiving social security age pension from DVA and have lost the pension due to changes in your income and/or assets, you can still get your CSHC through DVA.

Your application can be made to DVA but you must use the Centrelink application form SA296.

What is pension age?

The pension age for a male or female veteran who has qualifying service is 60 years.  The pension age for a male or female non–veteran or a veteran without qualifying service is 65 years.

From 1 July 2017 pension age (non-veteran) will increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 on 1 July 2023.  This will not affect people born before 1 July 1952. 

The following table provides a guide:

Male and Female Non-Veterans
If your date of birth is: Then your pension age is: Date pension age increases
Before 1 July 1952 65 years Current pension age
1 July 1952 to 31 December 1953 65 years and 6 months 1 July 2017
1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955 66 years 1 July 2019
1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956 66 years and 6 months 1 July 2021
On or after 1 January 1957 67 years 1 July 2023

Veteran pension age (and qualifying age for ISS recipients) will remain at age 60.

What is qualifying age?

Qualifying age for war widows and widowers is the same age as pension age for a veteran with qualifying service, i.e. 60 years.

What is the CSHC income test?

The amount of income you can have and be eligible for a CSHC is:

  • $52,796 per year for single persons
  • $84,472 per year (combined) for couples
  • $105,592 per year (combined) for couples separated due to ill health or respite care.

The above income amounts are indexed each year on 20 September and are increased for each dependent child by $639.60 per year.

Income that is taken into account when deciding whether you are entitled to a CSHC is:

  • Adjusted taxable income, and
  • Income deemed on account-based pensions.

What is adjusted taxable income?

Adjusted taxable income is calculated as follows:

taxable income + employer provided fringe benefits + foreign income + net rental property loss + net financial investment loss + reportable superannuation contributions  =  adjusted total taxable income

Taxable income – is the income that you (and your partner) received for the last financial year, as shown on your last Tax Notice of Assessment.  If you or your partner do not have a Tax Notice of Assessment because you or your partner did not have to lodge a tax return, then you may provide an acceptable estimate for the current financial year.

Employer provided fringe benefits – are benefits that you receive from your employer in addition to your wage or salary (e.g. private use of car, assistance with accommodation or rent).  If the total value of the employer provided benefits received is more than $1,000 per year, the amount above $1,000 will be included as your CSHC income.

Foreign income – for CSHC purposes, foreign income is income or periodical payments by way of gift or allowance received from outside Australia which is not taxed by the Australian Taxation Office.

Net financial investment loss – is the amount by which your deductions relating to your financial investments, such as shares or managed funds, exceed your income from those investments.  For example, a net financial investment loss is the amount by which deductible interest expenses on a loan taken out to buy shares exceeds the dividend income from those shares.  These losses do not relate to changes in value of shares or managed funds due to price movements or capital losses on the sale of investments.  The amount of investment loss allowed by the Australian Taxation Office is added to the amount of your taxable income for CSHC purposes.

Net rental property loss – occurs when the expenses incurred on a rental property exceed the gross rental income during a financial year.  Include net rental loss on any residential or commercial property for which you get rent, including your share of property that is part of a partnership, but not property that is part of a trust or company.  The amount of rental property loss allowed by the Australian Taxation Office is added to the amount of your taxable income for CSHC purposes.

Reportable superannuation contributions – is the sum of any reportable employer superannuation contributions and any personal deductible superannuation contributions.  Reportable employer contributions are made on top of contributions required by law, such as voluntary salary sacrificed contributions.  The amounts should be identified by your employer and included on your Payment Summary. Personal deductible superannuation contributions (generally for the self-employed) are the contributions claimed as a tax deduction on your personal tax return.

Adjusted total taxable income – is the total of all the above items.

*Note: - The above figures must all relate to the same tax (financial) year.  This applies regardless of whether the figures are from your most recent income tax return or are estimated figures for the current financial year.

What records do I need to work out my adjusted taxable income for CSHC?

Sources of income Records

The following table shows documentation you may need to work out your income

Taxable income Tax Notice of Assessment
Employer provided fringe benefits Payment Summary or employment contract
Foreign income Relevant documentation such as account statements which shows the amount of foreign income paid to you.

Net rental property loss

Net financial investment loss

Tax return
Reportable superannuation contributions Payment Summary or Tax return

Estimating my adjusted taxable income

If your adjusted taxable income in the current financial year will be less than for the period covered by your most recent Notice of Tax Assessment, and your income for CSHC purposes was above the limits for the CSHC, you may apply on the basis of your estimated adjusted taxable income for this financial year.

*Note: - If you are granted a CSHC on the basis of your estimated adjusted taxable income, you must send a copy of the notice of your tax assessment to DVA within 12 months of the end of the tax year and within 3 months of the day on which you receive the notice of assessment from the Australian Taxation Office.

Income deemed on account-based pensions

In addition to adjusted taxable income, deemed income from account-based income streams is included in the CSHC income test.

What are account-based pensions?

An account-based pension (also known as an allocated pension or transition to retirement pension):

  • is a flexible retirement income stream product purchased with superannuation money;
  • requires you to draw a minimum pension payment amount each year or elect to draw an amount of pension payment above the required minimum amount;
  • gives you access to withdraw some or all of the account balance;
  • may be purchased from a financial provider or paid from a Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) or Small APRA Fund (SAF); and
  • is tax free from age 60.

If you are the owner of an account-based pension purchased before 1 January 2015 and you were the holder of a CSHC from DVA or Centrelink on 31 December 2014, deemed income from your account-based pension will be exempt from the income test for as long as:

  • you continue to hold a CSHC; and
  • you retain the same account-based pension.

What is deemed income?

Deeming of income assumes that your assets are earning a certain rate of income, regardless of the income they actually return.  For CSHC assessment purposes, income will be deemed on the total of the current account balances of your account-based pension/s at the same rate that income is deemed on financial assets for income support pension assessment purposes.  The income deemed on account-based pensions will be added to your adjusted taxable income to determine whether you are entitled to a CSHC.

For more information on deemed income please see factsheet IS89 Deeming and Financial Assets.

How do I apply?

Contact DVA and ask for DVA Form D3056 Application for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC), alternatively the form can also be obtained online from the DVA website at: http://www.dva.gov.au/dvaforms.

When you apply for a CSHC, you will need to provide evidence of your income.

Tax file number

You need to provide your tax file number to DVA.  If you do not have a tax file number and are not eligible for an exemption you will need to apply for a tax file number through the Australian Taxation Office.

My obligations

CSHC holders have a responsibility to keep us informed of changes that may affect their eligibility for CSHC or its associated payment.  These responsibilities are described as ‘obligations’.  In order to meet your obligations, you need to tell DVA within 14 days if:

  • you and your partner’s adjusted taxable income plus income deemed on account-based pensions is more than the applicable limit; or
  • you or your partner purchase a new superannuation account-based pension; or
  • your family circumstances change, e.g. your relationship status changes or there is a change in the number of your dependants; or
  • you are going overseas permanently or intend to travel overseas for more than 6 weeks; or
  • you are granted a pension, benefit or concession card from Centrelink.

Who else issues Commonwealth Seniors Health Cards?

Centrelink also issues CSHC to Australian residents of age pension age who meet the CSHC income test.  The income test is the same at DVA and Centrelink.  If neither you, nor your partner, have qualifying service you may apply for a CSHC through Centrelink.

More Information

DVA General Enquiries

Metro Phone: 133 254 *  

Regional Phone: 1800 555 254 *

Email: GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au

DVA Website: www.dva.gov.au

Factsheet Website: www.dva.gov.au/factsheets

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.

Related Factsheets

Related Forms

Disclaimer

The information contained in this Factsheet is general in nature and does not take into account individual circumstances.  You should not make important decisions, such as those that affect your financial or lifestyle position on the basis of information contained in this Factsheet.  Where you are required to lodge a written claim for a benefit, you must take full responsibility for your decisions prior to the written claim being determined.  You should seek confirmation in writing of any oral advice you receive from DVA

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20 March 2017