Health and Aging

The age pension is subject to both assets and income tests and a myriad of other eligibility criteria.  The information on this page includes basic rates and thresholds.  For further information, please visit https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/age-pension or call Centrelink on 13 23 00.

Age pension income tests from 20 March 2018 to 19 September 2018

The current basic age pension is $826.20 per fortnight for a single, $622.80 each for a couple.

The following table shows the cutoff limits for the full pension and part pension.

Status Full pension Part pension
Single Up to $168 per fortnight Less than $1,983.20 per fortnight
Couple combined Up to $300 per fortnight Less than $3,036.40 per fortnight
Illness separated, couple combined Up to $300 per fortnight Less than $3,930.40 per fortnight

Deeming

Deeming is used to calculate income from financial investments for social security payment assessment.  Deeming assumes that a person’s financial investments are earning a certain rate of income, regardless of the amount of income they are actually earning.  If a person earns more than these rates, the extra income is not assessed. The deemed income is added to any additional income the person has from other sources, such as salary or wages.

For more information about deeming, go to humanservices.gov.au/deeming

Age pension assets test limits from 1 July 2018

Cut off for full pension Home owners Non-Home Owners
Single $258,500 $464,500
Couple combined $387,500 $594,000
Cut off for part pension Home owners Non-Home Owners
Single $561,250 $768,250
Couple combined $844,000 $1,051,000

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.

Those who received a low income health card following the cancellation of their age pension on 1 January 2017, following changes to the assets test, should have also received a pensioner concession card effective from 9 October 2017.

Cap on deductible amount for the income test for CSS and PSS pensioners for the Age Pension

New legislation took effect on 1 January 2016 to cap the deductible amount applying in relation to the income test for the Age Pension. The deductible amount will be capped at 10% for the recipients of a PSS or CSS pension. The deductible amount is the tax-free component of a PSS defined benefit pension or the tax-free component of the non-indexed additional CSS pension. The tax-free component of these pensions is shown on the pension increase advice issued in January and July each year.

Those that have a tax-free component greater than 10% of their PSS or CSS pensions and also receive a part-Age Pension will have their part-Age Pension reduced under the income test as only 10% of their pension will not be regarded as income for the income test. Previously the full amount of the tax-free component was not regarded as income for the Age Pension income test.

PSS and CSS pensions are not subject to the Centrelink assets test. Military superannuation pensions, that is, DFRB, DFRDB and MSBS pensions, are exempt from this change. The measure commenced on 1 January 2016.

Since this measure was first announced, SCOA (together with ACPSRO) tried to persuade the government to repeal it or at least grandfather it.  So far without any success. So, now we are asking you, our members, to write to your local MP or Senator and tell them how it has affected your fortnightly income.   Use the draft letter here for inspiration and personalise it as you wish.

Open this document  to see some examples of how this may affect you.  

Open this document) to see some calculated examples of the effect of the ten percent rule (Excel spreadsheets).

Open this document to read a paper delivered by Annette Barbetti to the Annual General Meeting of SCOA Australia on 29 November 2016. 

Or click here for more information from Centrelink.

Or, go to the ACPSRO page and read the Ten Percent Cap Issue Explained.

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 $552.00 $4,416.00
Couple combined, no children $954.00 $7,632.00
Single, one dependent child $954.00 $7,632.00
For each additional child, add $34.00 $272.00

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 $690.00 $5,520.00
Couple combined, no children            $1,192.50 $9,540.00
Single, one dependent child $1,192.50 $9,540.00
For each additional child, add $42.50 $340.00

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 to 20 June 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 25.415% 16.943% 8.471% 0%
Age 65-69 29.651% 21.180% 12.707% 0%
Age 70+ 33.887% 25.415% 16.943% 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.