The benefits that come with maturity
Whether you consider yourself an ‘older Australian’, ‘mature age’, a ‘senior’, an ‘over 55’, an ‘age doesn’t matter’, a ‘come-on-bet-you-can’t-guess-my-age’ or an ‘aspiring retiree’ the Australian community recognises the valuable contribution you continue to make, and does offer some concessional financial benefits once you’ve hit the milestone of being able to officially claim the adjectives ‘mature’ and ‘wise’ for yourself. If you’re a self-funded retiree and you don’t qualify to receive Centrelink or Veteran Affairs income support payments, here are some of the financial benefits available.
“Senior Cards welcome here”
You may have seen the signs, or noticed the considerably lower prices on the ‘Seniors Menu’ at your local hotel bistro. The Seniors Card is a state based government initiative and is all about keeping our valuable mature community members engaged, active and participating in our communities by keeping costs down – a thank you.
To be eligible for a Victorian Seniors Card, you need to be an Australian resident who has reached 60 years of age, are employed less than 35 hours a week, or are fully retired from employment.
The benefits include discounted and sometimes free public transport and discounted products, travel, accommodation and services throughout Australia. There are also regular special offers made available to card holders. For details on the discounts available, take a browse at Seniors Online’s Discount Directory.
Reduce the cost of your health bills
Eligible senior Australians may be able to get access to discounted pharmaceuticals approved by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), as well as bulk-billing of medical appointments where your General Practitioner supports this and reduced out-of-pocket hospital costs through a lowering of the Medicare Safety Net threshold.
Access to these and other benefits available via the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is subject to an adjusted taxable income test. You must also be an Australian resident and have reached ‘aged pension age’ (but not qualify for the aged pension) which at the moment is 65, increasing to 65.5 by 2017.
You may also be eligible for the Seniors Supplement Payment to help you cover some of your household bills. This is a quarterly supplementary payment and is not taxable.
For more information before you apply, take some time to read the information available on Centrelink’s website, Information you need to know about your claim for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
Hit the rails!
If you love the idea of an adventure, and you would love to spend more time being able to visit family or friends interstate, Great Southern Rail offers reduced prices to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders for travel on tourism gems such as The Indian Pacific, The Overland, The Southern Spirit and The Ghan.
And don’t forget the public transport discounts available through having a Victorian Seniors Card. Take a look at the Seniors Online’s Discount Directory for other travel, tourism and accommodation discounts.
You may be eligible to reduce your tax bill
The Senior Australians Tax Offset (SATO) is a tax offset available for eligible retirees who are of Age Pension age or older, or of Service Pension age. Please note, this is an offset, so it won’t result in a tax refund but at its maximum application could wind your tax bill back to zero. If you’re over 55 and still in paid employment, a Mature Age Worker Tax Offset could be available to you.
For more information, please visit the Australian Taxation Office’s website, or speak to your accountant or financial advisor.
Be heard and save more money at the same time!
National Seniors Australia is a not-for-profit advocacy organisation for mature Australians (over 50s). It’s an organisation that not gives a national voice to issues affecting our Australian seniors by working with policy makers and contributing to research. For a nominal annual membership fee it also offers a National Senior Members Rewards Program to help save money on products and services through offering members discounts. Discounts are offered on shopping, eating out, entertainment and travel.
To become a member of National Seniors Australia, the eligibility criteria is that you either have an interest in seniors’ issues, or are 50 years plus or a partner or spouse of someone over 50 years of age. National Seniors also offers a buying service, for example white goods and electrical items, based on the power of bulk purchasing.
For more information, visit National Seniors Australia’s website.