Health and Aging

Age pension assets test changes

Higher asset test thresholds and taper rate increased from $1.50 to $3 per $1,000 of assets from 1 January 2017.

The Government abandoned its attempt to index the Age Pension by the CPI. Instead it increased the asset test thresholds and the withdrawal rate at which pensions are reduced once the relevant threshold is exceeded.

Pensioners who lost eligibility on 1 January 2017 were given:

  • A non-income tested Low Income Health Care Card (LIC), and
  • If they were over pension age, a non-income tested Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC).

In the 2017/18 budget, the government restored the Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) to those who had stopped being eligible for a pension payment due to changes to the assets test.  The start date is 9 October 2017.

This measure will allow these non-pensioners to access:

  • Hearing services from the Department of Health, and
  • Discounts and concessions offered by states, territories and private providers.

It will not be income-tested or assets-tested.  PCC card holders will need to meet other eligibility requirements.  These include portability conditions.

These non-pensioners will also keep their CSHC.  This will maintain their current Commonwealth benefits.  This will make sure they continue to receive the Energy Supplement.

The LIC will be deactivated.

Assets test thresholds adjustments

The assets test threshold for the full age pension is only adjusted once a year on 1 July.
The assets test upper threshold is adjusted on 1 July of each year, and is also adjusted on 20 March and 20 September each year.
The upper threshold is the limit for a part age pension.
The adjustment of the upper threshold on 1 January 2017 was a one-off adjustment.

Age pension assets test limits from 1 July 2017 to 19 September 2017

Home Owners
Couples Single
Cut out for full pension $380,500 $253,750
Cut out for part pension $827,000 $550,000
Non-Home Owners
Cut out for full pension $583,000 $456,750
Cut out for part pension $1,030,000 $753,000


You may not have to wait to turn 60 to qualify for a Health Care Card

You may be eligible for a Health Care Card if you are below Age Pension age and your income is below a certain threshold, or if you receive certain Centrelink payments; for example, the parenting payment, a partner allowance, a widow allowance or youth allowance, or a special benefit payment. (See Centrelink’s publication “A Guide to Australian Government Payments”).
The special benefit is a payment granted to people who find themselves in severe financial need due to circumstances outside their control and who do not receive any other Centrelink pension or benefit.

Qualifying for a Low Income Health Care Card – Income Test

If you do not receive any of the above Centrelink payments, you may still be eligible for a Health Care Card if your income is below the relevant threshold shown in the following table showing the maximum gross income to qualify for a Low Income Health Care Card:

Status Weekly income Income in an 8 week period
Single, no children $543 $4,344
Couple combined, no children $939 $7,512
Single, one dependent child $939 $7,512
For each additional child, add $34 $272

Your income must be below the limit that applies to you for a period of 8 weeks before the day you apply for the Card. If you are assessed as eligible, the Health Care Card is valid for 6 months. If you apply to renew the Card, you must again meet the “8 week” income test in the above table.

Renewing a Low Income Health Care Card

Each time you apply for, or renew your Low Income Health Care Card, you will be required to requalify.

Retaining a Low Income Health Care Card

To retain the Low Income Health Care Card, your weekly income must not exceed the limits in the following table during the entitlement period, defined as being from the date of issue to the date the card expires. If your income changes, you must notify Centrelink.

Status Weekly income Income in an 8 week period
Single, no children $678.25 $5,430
Couple combined, no children $1,173.75 $9,390
Single, one dependent child $1,173.75 $9,390
For each additional child, add $42.50 $340

Definition of income: see http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/income

What are the benefits of a Health Care Card?

As a Health Care Card holder you may be entitled to receive concessions on a wide range of goods and services, including dental, optical, ambulance, electricity and other utilities, telephone services including line rental, the cost of technical and further education, public transport fares and entertainment.

However, concessions vary between States and the Commonwealth. Some concessions that are available in one location may not be available in another. So you should always enquire about concessions or discounts that may be available in your State or Territory.

Private Health Insurance Rebate and the Medicare Levy Surcharge

Rebate levels from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018

  Standard Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
Singles <$90,000 $90,001-105,000 $105,001-140,000 >$140,000
Families <180,000 $180,001-210,000 $210,001-280,000 >$280,000
    Rebate    
< Age 65 25.934% 17.289% 8.644% 0%
Age 65-69 30.256% 21.612% 12.966% 0%
Age 70+ 34.579% 25.934% 17.289% 0%

The rebate thresholds are indexed annually. For further details, see http://www.privatehealth.gov.au/healthinsurance

Medicare Levy Surcharge from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2018

The Medicare Levy Surcharge is levied on Australian taxpayers who do not have an appropriate level of private hospital insurance and who earn above a certain income.  Click on the following link which shows how the ATO calculates your income for the Medicare Levy Surcharge.  It is not the same as your taxable income.
Go to https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/medicare-levy/medicare-levy-surcharge

    Medicare Levy Surcharge    
Standard Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
All ages 0.0% 1.0% 1.25% 1.5%

Single parents and couples (including de facto couples) are subject to family tiers. For families with children, the thresholds are increased by $1,500 for each child after the first. The income thresholds are indexed and will remain the same until 30 June 2021.