But working out what card is right for you can cause a degree of confusion - do I automatically become entitled to a Seniors Card when I retire and if so which one? How do I get a Pensioner Concession Card? If I lose entitlement to my pension can I still retain my Pensioner Concession Card?
These are all very common questions so let me try to explain.
If you are over the age of 65, you may find that you have an entitlement to at least one of the following cards;
• Pensioner Concession Card
• Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
• Seniors Card
• Gold Card: ‘DVA Health Card - for all conditions’
So, what is the value?
Pensioner Concession Card
The first requirement to obtain this card is an entitlement to an age pension.
A Pensioner Concession Card entitles you to reduced prescription costs of $6.40 under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). There is also a $384 PBS Safety Net Threshold. In other words, if you need to fill more than 60 prescriptions in a year, the 61st will be free.
You may also be entitled to various other discounts or concessions from the Australian Government.
These could include:
• Bulk billing for doctor’s appointments
• Refunds for medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net
• Assistance with hearing services through the Department of Health
• Discounts for mail redirection through Australia Post
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
Your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card provides similar discounts to the Pensioner Concession Card on PBS prescription medicines. You may also get a discount or concession on:
• Bulk billing for doctor’s appointments and medical expenses, at the discretion of the doctor
• Fee reductions on medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net
• Considerably reduced health, household, transport and education expenses
Note: Various states or territory governments and local councils may, in some instances, provide concessions at their own discretion and the availability of these concessions may vary between states and territories.
Each state and territory have a Seniors Card scheme and some reciprocal arrangements are in place for using your card in other states. It is a free card, providing transport concessions and participating business discounts on a range of goods and services.
To be eligible, you must be a resident of the state (the age qualification varies between states - in some, it is 60 years and over, in others, it is 65 years and over) and not be working more than a set numbers of hours per week in paid employment.
The concessions again vary between state and territory governments, and local councils but may include:
• Reductions on property and water rates
• Reductions on energy bills
• Reduced fares on public transport
• Reductions on motor vehicle registration
• Free rail journeys
In some cases, you can receive the discounts by just holding the Seniors Card however in some states you need to also hold the Pensioner Concession Card to be eligible for reductions on goods and services.
Gold Card: ‘DVA Health Card - for all conditions’
The Rolls Royce of concession cards from a health and transport point of view (and rightly so) is the card issued by the Department of Veteran Affairs to ex-Veterans who suffer from health issues as a result of their war service.
A Gold Card entitles the holder to DVA funding for services for all clinically necessary health care needs, and all health conditions, whether they are related to war service or not. The cardholder may be a veteran or the widow/widower or dependent of a veteran.
So, how do you know which card is right for you? It depends on where you live, your health, transport requirements, whether you own your own home or rent, are a self-funded retiree or an age pensioner or in some cases, whether you own a boat and fish, or you don’t. Everyone will be different!
The following link can provide an overview of the concessions available in each state and territory – http://www.australia.gov.au/content/seniors-card or talk to your financial planner.
By Mark Teale - Retirement Strategies and Solutions Specialist, Centrepoint Alliance