Centrelink Concession Cards (PCC, LIHCC, CSHC)
One of the greatest additional benefits of qualifying for Age Pension payments is the associated Pensioner Concession Card, and the range of discounts and concessions it provides. But did you know you do not necessarily need to qualify for the Age Pension to gain access to most of these benefits?
There are three main concession cards available to Australian residents who have reached age pension age, the Pensioner Concession Card (PCC), Low Income Health Care Card (LIHCC), and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC).
The most significant discounts and concessions provided include the following:
- 50% discount to principal residence municipal rates;
- 17.50% discount to electricity and gas (winter only) bills;
- 50% discount to water bills;
- 50% discount to motor vehicle registration;
- 50% discount to pet registration fees;
- Public transport concessions;
- Access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS); and
- Stamp duty exemptions and/or discounts on the purchase of a new principal residence property.
A full list of discounts and concessions provided by each card can be found on the DHS website (http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/concessions).
Each concession card provides access to different benefits, and has different rules and thresholds that govern qualification.
Pensioner Concession Card
The PCC provides access to the full list of above concessions, as well as a number of other discounts offered by state and territory governments, and private businesses. Qualification is effectively the same as qualification for Age Pension payments, with both an assets and an income test applying. So long as you qualify for $1 of Age Pension, you will qualify for the PCC.
Low Income Health Care Card
If you do not qualify for the Age Pension & PCC you may still qualify for the LIHCC. The LIHCC also provides access to the full list of above concessions. An income test only applies for qualification, there is no assets test. Your financial assets will be considered through the process of deeming, however effective thresholds of qualification are higher than the PCC.
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
If you do not qualify for the PCC or LIHCC, you may still qualify for the CSHC. The CSHC provides access to a restricted range of the above listed benefits. Most significantly this includes access to the PBS, and stamp duty exemptions and/or discounts on the purchase of a new principal residence property. Once more, an income test only applies for qualification, there is no assets test. As with the LIHCC your financial assets will be considered through the process of deeming, however the effective thresholds of qualification are higher again than both the PCC and LIHCC.
Significant changes to the assets test for qualification for Age Pension payments come into effect from 1 January 2017 and will result in many retirees losing their Age Pension payments and PCC. Retirees who lose their Age Pension and PCC as a result of these changes will automatically be issued with a Commonwealth Seniors’ Health Card, and remain exempt from the usual income test requirements for these cards indefinitely. However, there will likely remain scope to qualify for the superior discounts and concessions offered by the LIHCC.
As with all things Centrelink related, the specific rules of qualification and treatment of income and assets for concession cards can be more complex than they first seem, and are subject to regular change.
We are experts in optimising Centrelink entitlements, in the broader context of our clients’ retirement planning. If you have specific queries or would like to arrange a meeting, please do contact us to discuss your circumstances.