Mercury (Hobart)

Retirees hit hard, snap up support


SENIOR Australian­s are seeking government social security assistance in record numbers as Covid-19 and shrinking interest rates impact their incomes, new figures show.

The number of Commonweal­th Seniors Health Card recipients has jumped almost 9 per cent in 12 months to 430,447 people, and is up 50 per cent over five years, according to Department of Social Security data.

CSHC holders receive cheaper medicines and other benefits, and their numbers have grown more than eight times faster than the number of people on the age pension, which rose by 6 per cent in the same five-year period to 4.37 million.

Age pension payments will rise by up to $14.80 per fortnight from Monday as part of their twice-yearly indexation, and CSHC eligibilit­y also becomes more generous.

Associatio­n of Independen­t Retirees chairman Wayne Strandquis­t said his organisati­on had been informing seniors the CSHC did not have an assets test, only an income test.

From September 20, a pension-age person can get a CSHC if their annual taxable and deemed income is below $57,761, and for a couple combined, the limit is $92,416.

“More and more self-funded retirees are finding that their incomes from bank deposits have dropped and that has caused them to fall under the threshold for the Commonweal­th Seniors Health Card,” Mr Strandquis­t said.

“A lot of self-funded retirees have a good chunk of their savings in cash.”

Many seniors signed up to a CSHC last year when the federal government offered cardholder­s cash handouts as part of its Covid-19 relief packages.

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