The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card supports eligible Australians of pension age to access cheaper healthcare, medications and services.
commonwealth seniors health card

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Updated 01/06/2023
What changed?
Updated sources, added new content including: benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and different income thresholds for the card.
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Updated 01/06/2023

What changed?

Updated sources, added new content including: benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and different income thresholds for the card.
Our aim is to help you make better informed decisions. That’s why iSelect’s content is produced in accordance with our fact-checking and editorial guidelines.

Edited by

Laura Crowden

Find out more about how we make money.

View our Privacy Policy.

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If you’re a pensioner or you’re close to the age of retirement, you’ll know how expensive the cost of living can be, especially when it comes to healthcare. 

The good news is that the Australian Government supports Australian pensioners with access to cheaper healthcare, medications and services.  

We’ll take you through the ins and outs of how the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) works, and how you can get one. 

What are the benefits of a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card? 

A CSHC entitles you to benefits including:1  

  • Cheaper medicine for medications listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). 
  • Bulk-billed doctor visits (depending on which comes down to whether or not your doctor bulk bills or works at a bulk-billing clinic). 
  • A refund for medical costs when you reach the Medicare Safety Net.  

Your state or territory government and local council may also lower some expenses for CSHC holders such as electricity and gas bills, property and water rates, healthcare costs (such as ambulance, dental and eye care) and public transport fares.2 

Who is eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card? 

To be eligible for a CSHC, you must:3  

  • Be of Age Pension age (from July 1 2023, Age Pension age will be 67 years, if you were born on or after 1 January 1957.4) 
  • Be an Australian resident living in Australia. 
  • Not be receiving an income support payment from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. 
  • Provide your Tax File Number (or be exempt from doing do). 
  • Meet identity requirements. 
  • Meet the income test.

What is Age Pension age? 

Age Pension age for men and women is currently as follows:5 

  • 65 years and 6 months (if you were born between 1 July 1952 and 31 December 1953). 
  • 66 years (if you were born between 1 January 1954 and 30 June 1955). 
  • 66 years and 6 months (if you were born between 1 July 1955 and 31 December 1956).  

What is the income test? 

The income test for the CSHC is based on:6 

  • Your adjusted taxable income – for the CSHC, this includes your taxable income, investment losses, reportable superannuation contributions and more.7
  • A deemed amount from account based income streams – for the CSHC, deeming rules work out a consistent rate for the income you receive from assets. This might include savings accounts, term deposits, investments and shares.8  
  • Income test limits vary based on whether you’re single or a couple, separated, in respite care, or have any children under your care. They are usually adjusted each year based on the Consumer Price Index.9 

What are the income thresholds for a CSHC? 

To meet the income test, you must earn less than the following:10




Couples separated by illness, respite care, or prison 





Add $639.60 to these amounts for each child in your care.

How do I claim my CSHC? 

When you reach Age Pension age, the simplest way to claim your card is online.  

To claim your card online, you’ll need a myGov account linked to Centrelink. You can set these accounts up online. If you aren’t able to claim online, you can print a form from the Centrelink website. 

Whichever way you make your claim for your CSHC card, you may need to provide supporting documents, including:11 

  • Financial documents like your Tax File Number, superannuation, and income records. 
  • Residence documents like visas and date of Australian citizenship. 
  • If you and your partner are both eligible for a card, you need to make individual applications to receive a card each.

How long do I need to wait once I submit a claim for my CSHC? 

After you claim online or by phone, Centrelink will contact you if they need more details from you.12  

You can also track the progress of your claim through Centrelink online (via myGov), or through the Centrelink Express Plus mobile app. 

If you’re eligible, the card will display in your digital wallet in the app. Plus, Centrelink will post you a hard copy of the card. 

Do I qualify for a CSHC if I already have a state-based Seniors Card? 

Each state and territory also has its own Seniors Card.13 Eligibility and entitlements differ across states, but these cards usually offer discounts on transport, electricity, gas bills and more. 

Can my family talk to Centrelink about my Commonwealth Seniors Health Card? 

Yes, you can nominate someone to represent you with Centrelink to discuss your card.14 

Am I eligible for a PBS Safety Net card? 

Once you or your family spend a certain amount on PBS medicine, you’ll reach the PBS Safety Net threshold. 

The PBS Safety Net threshold usually resets at the beginning of each year, 1 January. 

On 1 January 2023, the PBS Safety Net thresholds were updated to $262.80 for concession card holders – but before you meet the threshold, each medicine will cost up to $7.30 for concession card holders.15 

Once you reach the threshold, you’ll need to apply for a PBS Safety Net card to get cheaper medicines. You can use this card whenever you get a prescription filled at a pharmacy, and generally, when you show your PBS Safety Net card as a CSHC holder, you can get medicine for free.16 

Do I need a CSHC and private Health Insurance? 

Everyone’s circumstances are different. But having a CSHC doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother with Private Health Insurance. 

While the card offers benefits for medications, doctor visits covered under Medicare, and refunds when you hit the Medicare Safety Net, it won’t necessarily help you access more complex medical treatments and procedures. 

With or without the card, you’re entitled to free care in public hospitals via the Medicare system, but depending on where you live, ambulance services may or may not be covered and you could get an unexpected bill after an emergency. 

As you enter a new stage of life, your needs and priorities change, and your Health Insurance needs to keep up.  For example, as you get older you may want to ensure you have cover for services that are more relevant to seniors such as cataracts, joint replacements and medical devices. 

If it’s important to you to have a private room if you need to have a hospital stay, or if you want to avoid being put on a public hospital waiting list for elective surgery or treatment, it could be a smart idea to keep a Private Health Insurance policy suited to your needs. 

Take the time to compare policies and check the inclusions so you’re not paying for any services you don't need (like pregnancy!), and make sure you’re covered for things that are important to you as your health needs change. You may find a better deal that covers you for what’s important now, not what you needed years ago when you first bought your policy. 

Need help comparing Health Insurance policies? 

The team here at iSelect can support you to make smart choices about your Private Health Insurance as your lifestyle and health priorities change. We’ll try and help you find a health policy that meets your needs from our range of policies and providers. Start comparing online today, or call us on 1800 784 772. 

1 Services Australia - Benefits 
2 As above.  
3 Services Australia - Who Can Get It 
4 Services Australia - Who Can Get It 
5 As above.
6 Services Australia - Income Test 
7 Services Australia - What Adjusted Taxable Income Is 
8 Services Australia - Deeming 
9 Services Australia - Income Test 
10 As above.
11 Services Australia - Supporting Documents 
12 Services Australia - How To Claim 
13 Services Australia - Concessions for Older Australians 
14 Services Australia - Someone To Deal With Us On Your Behalf 
15 Services Australia - PBS Safety Net Thresholds 
16 As above.


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