Simple or go around in circles? When online forms make you dizzy

My wife and I are self funded pensioners and attempted to apply for the Commonwealth Elderly Health Card in line through the federal government’s Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) website. The process is difficult and keeps you going in circles. There appears to be no link to the online application form on the myGov website, and the help desk is also useless. I managed to find a pdf form that can be mailed to the Department of Veterans Affairs, but it seems to be for veterans only. I just wish myGov would simplify their website.

Services Australia chief executive Hank Jongen says applying for a CSHC is a straightforward process, but how a person applies will depend on their personal circumstances and preferences. If you are a couple applying online for CSHC through myGov, each eligible member of the couple will need to submit their own online application for CSHC.

Applying online for the Commonwealth Seniors’ Health Card can make you run in circles.Credit:John Shakespeare

Applicants who choose to apply for a CSHC online will need to provide information about their partner’s income, as the CSHC income test looks at the combined income of couples. It is important to note that providing this information does not mean that Services Australia will also automatically process a CSHC for the partner. Alternatively, a paper complaint form is available for those who need it. When the paper form is used, both partners can claim a CSHC at the same time in the same form.

If my mom sells her house for $700,000 and pays off the $500,000 mortgage from the sale proceeds, could she contribute $300,000 as a downsizing payment or is she limited to 200,000 $ being the difference between $300,000 and the net proceeds?

John Perri of AMP Technical has good news for you – provided the sale of the property meets the normal criteria such as the house must have been owned for 10 years and the contribution must be made within 90 days of settlement, it could contribute $300,000 as a downsizer contribution if it has the funds available. It is not limited to the net proceeds of the sale.

From time to time you mentioned that if a person’s death was imminent, their lawyer could withdraw all of their retirement pension, deposit it in their bank account and thus avoid the 15% plus Medicare death tax if his retirement pension was left to a non-dependent. I didn’t know a lawyer could do this, but if I withdrew all of my super before age 75 and contributed $330,000 again as a nonconcessional contribution, wouldn’t that result in the same result?

It is not so simple. For starters, if you have both taxable and non-taxable items in your super, you can’t choose which items will be included when you make a withdrawal. Therefore, a withdrawal of $330,000 could be made up of both taxable and non-taxable items. Moreover, even if a non-concessional contribution is part of the non-taxable component, its income will be part of the taxable component. Your strategy could reduce the effect of tax on death by increasing your non-taxable component, but that’s not a perfect solution.


I would like some clarification regarding Centrelink’s donation rules for old age pension. Suppose a person receives a part-age pension and also income from his pension fund. Because they spend less than they earn, their cash in hand will increase and – as I understand it – they are required to notify Centrelink every time the balance increases by $2,000. As a result, the pensioner gradually loses part of his old-age pension and is therefore punished for being frugal and not spending all his income. Should the retiree decide to make a gift to family members, which would reduce their savings so that their pension is not affected? Or is Centrelink only concerned about gifts made early in retirement, or if substantial assets have been acquired by windfall as an inheritance?

Melvin G. Rodriguez