Hi Jenny,

Thank you for your question. I’ll begin by stating that without knowing more detail about your situation, I am unable to provide you with a straight “yes” or “no” answer to your question. I can, however, provide some factual general information on the topic.

There is a number of concession cards available through the Social Security (Centrelink or the Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA)) system. Given your husband’s and your ages, I assume you are referring to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card (CSHC) and the age pension.

In a nutshell, the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) is a concession card that provides those eligible with a variety of benefits. Importantly, these benefits are not just limited to health (i.e. you may be able to get discounts on certain services as well).

Below are examples of some of these benefits:

Bulk-billed GP appointments (this is at the discretion of the GP);
access to pharmaceuticals (prescription medicines) at concessional rates through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS);
reduction in the cost of out-of-hospital medical expenses above a concessional threshold, through the Medicare Safety Net;
Energy Supplement, a tax-exempt payment to assist with household expenses including energy costs. However, eligibility for this will depend on your personal circumstances.

Also, state or territory and local governments and private providers may also provide health, household, transport, education and recreation concessions. Below is a selection of some of the benefits provided:

New South Wales (NSW)

  • access to public dental services in NSW
  • ambulance services provided free of charge in case of an emergency in NSW
  • Seniors Energy Rebate, a $200 rebate once a year, to help cover the cost of electricity bills

Victoria (VIC)

  • once-off stamp duty:
  • exemption when you buy a home valued at ≤$330,000 in VIC
  • partial exemption when you buy a home valued from $330,001 to $750,000 in VIC.

Queensland (QLD)

  • access to public dental services in QLD
  • Electricity Rebate, a $340.85 rebate once a year, to help cover the cost of electricity bills

In terms of eligibility (obtaining and retaining) for the CSHC:

  • you must have reached Age Pension age
  • you must be an Australian resident and reside in Australia
  • you must meet an income test, namely, have adjusted taxable income (which includes income from an account based income stream) less than $89,290 p.a. between you and your husband (this would include deemed income from any investments you have including allocated pensions, rental income if you have any investment properties etc.).

As your husband was born between 1 January 1954 and 30 June 1955, he would have reached his age pension age once he had his 66th birthday, however, if he was born in 1955 and his birthday is after the 30th June, he will only be eligible for his age pension and his CSHC once he reaches the age of 66 years and 6 months.

You mentioned that your husband may get a small pension – which makes me assume you may have considerable assets or income (because you are working) that may preclude him from accessing the full pension. However, even if he does not meet the means test to receive the age pension, he may still be able to receive his CSHC.

On the other hand, the CSHC only covers one person. If your husband is eligible to receive the CSHC, it will not automatically make you eligible as well. The fact that you have not yet reached your age pension age (if you were born between 1 July 1955 and 31 December 1956, it will be age 66 years and 6 months), would preclude you from accessing the CSHC. You may, however, still be eligible for a Low Income Health Card (LIHC) which is available to any Australian residents over the age of 19 whose gross (before tax) income in the 8 weeks preceding their application was less than $7,880.00 (for a couple with no dependants) or $985 per week.

To submit a claim for the CSHC or the LIHC, you have several options. One of them is online, via your myGov account (linked to Centrelink or the DVA); or by paper, by printing and completing the relevant form.

Please note that both the CSHC and the LIHC are valid for 1 year. If your husband and/or you remain eligible (you need to update Centrelink with regards to your household income and assets), you will be sent a new card each year in August.

Jenny, if you would like to maximise your household income, including the potential Social Security benefits, you may wish to seek personal financial advice tailored to your circumstances.