National Seniors regularly hears from self-funded retirees concerned they are missing out on stimulus payments during COVID-19. Many are heavily impacted by the economic downturn and feel they have been left to their own devices.
On the back of our fruitful advocacy relationship with the Alliance for a Fairer Retirement, we put these concerns to government, in a submission to the Treasurer and other Ministers. Also, those concerns are the topic of recent research by National Seniors.
That research and the submission can be found on the National Seniors website. The federal government has responded by halving the super drawdown rate (retirees can reduce the amount they drawdown on their superannuation helping to preserve capital at a time when markets are being hit hard), and by providing financial stimulus payments.
- Two more payments of $250 will be made in December 2020 and March 2021
- A self-funded retiree must hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or CSHC
- To be eligible for a CSHC (as at 20 October 2020) you must meet the income test
Retirees were initially provided with two stimulus payments worth $750 in the first half of 2020. The first was delivered in April and the second payment in July.
Two more payments of $250 will be made in December 2020 and March 2021, as announced in the Budget in October. This brings the total stimulus delivered to retirees to $2,000.
However, it’s important to note that while all pensioners receive the payment, not all self-funded retirees do. As with most government payments, there are eligibility rules that determine who gets them. To be eligible for a stimulus payment, a self-funded retiree must hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or CSHC. To be eligible for a CSHC (as at 20 October2020) you must meet the income test. Your annual income must be less than:
- $55,808 for a single,
- $89,290 for a couple, or
- $111,616 for a couple separated due to illness, aged care or prison.
There is no assets test applied. Currently there are just over 400,000 CSHC holders who will benefit from the stimulus. Hopefully, if you are a self-funded retiree, you are one of them. If you don’t have a CSHC then you should move fast to check if you are eligible in order to get one of the $250 payments. You must apply before February 26, 2021to be eligible for the second payment of$250 in March 2021 (The deadline to apply for the first $250 payment was November 27, 2020).
"A single self-funded retiree with assets up to the value of $2.5 million (where those assets are fully deemed) would be eligible for the CSHC and would therefore be eligible for the stimulus payment. A couple with fully deemed assets of up to $4 million would also be eligible."Stimulus eligibility
Changes to deeming rates mean that more and more self-funded retirees are now eligible for the CSHC and the stimulus payments. This is partly down to the fact that National Seniors successfully fought to reduce deeming rates.
When official Reserve Bank interest rates fell again in June 2019, National Seniors stepped up its campaign to bring deeming rates back in line with the cash rate. Through our relentless campaigning, we have seen several drops in deeming rates.
This has put more money into the pockets of pensioners. The drop in deeming rates had another important consequence for self-funded retirees because it potentially reduced the income estimate used in the income test.
As deeming rates fell so too has retirees ’estimated income, bringing more people under the income test thresholds. A single self-funded retiree with assets up to the value of $2.5 million (where those assets are fully deemed) would be eligible for the CSHC and would therefore be eligible for the stimulus payment. A couple with fully deemed assets of up to $4 million would also be eligible.
Obviously, not all assets are deemed and therefore the calculation will depend on the types of assets you hold. But regardless, there are likely to be tens of thousands of self-funded retirees who are eligible but don’t know it or haven’t bothered to check.
If you think you are one of them then you should apply now to receive the next stimulus payment. Don’t forget that the CSHC also gives you access to discounted pharmaceuticals and concessions on other essential services, so finding out more is well worth it.