Am I eligible for concessions?

We revisit one of most popular articles of 2021, examining why declining deeming rates can actually enable more seniors to qualify for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

View Concessions Calculator

Key Points

  • Deeming rates determine eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC)
  • National Seniors helped secure a drop in deeming rates in 2018 and again in 2020
  • Self-funded retirees with ‘deemed’ income of less than $55,808 (single) or $89,290 (couples) get access to concessions via the CSHC

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) gives you access to cheaper medicines and medical bulk billing, as well as several other state and federal concessions. But there are still a lot of self-funded retirees out there who don’t know they may be eligible for health and cost-of-living concessions.

If you have significant financial assets, you may believe you don’t qualify for this card but recent changes to deeming rates – which National Seniors fought hard for – could mean you’re now eligible. Read on to find out more.

What are deeming rates

Deeming rates are the rate of income the government assumes your assets have earned. This is then used to calculate your income and can affect how much of the Age Pension you receive, as well as if you qualify for government concessions.

Financial assets that may be impacted include savings accounts, term deposits, shares, managed funds, and sometimes even superannuation.

Deeming rates currently sit at 0.25% for first $53,600 of your financial assets and 2.25% for anything over $53,600.

What this means is that the government assumes you will make a return each year of 2.25% for any assets over $53,600 and 0.25% for assets valued under $53,600.

If the return you earn is higher than the deemed rates, the additional amount won’t change whether or not you will receive the Age Pension, concessions and other income support payments, but if your earning is lower, it assumes your income is higher than it actually is and you could be missing out.

The deeming rates drama

As the Reserve Bank dropped interest rates to record lows to stimulate the economy, the government held on tight to deeming rates used to estimate your income from financial assets.

It was only after concerted pressure from seniors and organisations including National Seniors, that they eventually dropped the deeming rates.

With the CSHC threshold for a single retiree sitting at $55,808, it means you can have up to $2.5 million in financial assets and get the card. For a couple, the CSHC eligibility threshold is $89,290 a year – which means they can have up to $4 million in financial assets and still get the card. This is excluding any adjusted taxable income you might have.

Department of Social Services data shows that this has resulted in an increase in the number of people who now hold a CSHC. Prior to the first drop in deeming rates, the number of card holders was about 375,000 – but since the first deeming rates change in July 2018, this has grown to around 430,000.

That means about 50,000 self-funded retirees are now eligible for basic concessions as a result of the National Seniors campaign to reduce deeming rates.

National Seniors Concessions Calculator

To learn more about what you’re eligible for with a CSHC (or any other concession card) take a look at the National Seniors’ Concessions Calculator.

This simple and easy-to-use tool lists a range of available benefits to make it easier to understand what concessions you are eligible for. We encourage to you to check it out and share with your friends and family so they too can make the most of their benefits.

Try it now

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