Apr 22, 2024

Well-off seniors could be denied access to a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Well-off seniors could be denied access to a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
With the Federal Budget looming, seniors and stakeholders are eagerly awaiting news on potential alterations to deeming rates [Shutterstock Images].

As seniors across Australia brace for potential shifts in Centrelink’s deeming rates, there’s growing concern about the ripple effects on their eligibility for the coveted Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC). Here’s the breakdown:

Analysis conducted by financial advisor Nick Bruining in The West Australian suggests that forthcoming adjustments to deeming rates might leave well-off seniors, particularly those with substantial superannuation savings, out in the cold when it comes to accessing benefits offered by the CSHC.

Who’s Most Affected?

Single seniors are anticipated to bear the brunt of these changes, potentially finding themselves on the wrong side of the eligibility criteria. However, strategic financial planning could offer some relief for those looking to maintain their CSHC status.

Understanding the CSHC:

This card serves as a lifeline for seniors aged over 67 who find themselves outside the qualifying bracket for age pension due to their asset holdings. In addition to discounted pharmaceuticals, the CSHC may unlock various concessions, contingent upon the senior’s state of residence.

Income Thresholds:

For couples, the combined income threshold currently stands at $152,640, while singles face a ceiling of $95,400. These figures, subject to annual adjustments, play a pivotal role in determining eligibility for the CSHC.

Deeming Rates in Focus:

The freeze on deeming rates, a response to the economic upheaval wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, has shielded seniors from potential cuts in their deemed income. Presently, singles see their first $60,400 earning a modest 0.25%, while couples’ earnings up to $100,200 are similarly assessed. Any changes to these rates could significantly impact seniors’ access to benefits.

The Loophole:

One strategy to counter potential ineligibility involves reallocating superannuation funds to lower deemed income, albeit with tax implications.

What Lies Ahead:

With the Federal Budget looming, seniors and stakeholders are eagerly awaiting news on potential alterations to deeming rates. While drastic changes might be politically unpalatable, even incremental adjustments could have far-reaching consequences for seniors reliant on the CSHC.

As the landscape of retirement benefits undergoes potential shifts, seniors are urged to stay informed and proactive in safeguarding their access to vital support systems like the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

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