Unlock your entitlements: 12 amazing benefits for older Australians

Australia has a raft of benefits lurking within its retirement income and health system, sometimes with confusing eligibility and application processes. Carolyn Tate summarises 12 great support services, concessions and rebates available to many older Australians - get online and check your eligibility today.

By Carolyn Tate

Are you getting all the benefits you're entitled to?

One of the great things about living in Australia is that we have a host of support and services for those in our society that need it. And once you’ve started to gather a fair crowd of candles on your birthday cake, that could start to include you – so why not tap into what’s available?

If you haven’t gone looking for them, it can be hard to know whether you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to, so we’ve created this list to help you figure that out, all in one place.

You might not need them all right now, but it’s handy to be able to run through the list and see what you might be able to access now, and what could be handy in the future.

1. Age pension: a jewel of a benefit for those aged over 67

The age pension provides financial support to seniors to help cover living expenses. The amount you receive depends on your income and assets. If you do qualify for the age pension, you may also qualify for Centrepay, a free bill paying service available as a regular deduction from your Centrelink payments, Work Bonus, a payment that helps you earn more without reducing your pension, and a Pensioner Concession Card (see below).

Eligibility: To qualify for the age pension in Australia, you generally have to be at least 67 years old (eligibility age may vary) and meet income and asset tests. Australian residency requirements also apply.

More info: Services Australia

2. Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC): even if you can't get a pension, you might get this

This card offers concessions on prescription medications, medical services, and various state-based discounts.

Eligibility: To obtain a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, you need to be of age pension age (often 67 or older) and not receiving certain other government payments.

Hopefully you've already got your Medicare Card in your wallet - read the 8 amazing benefits of this little green card. And don't forget to ensure Medicare has your correct bank account details - in 2023, nearly a million Australians have unclaimed Medicare benefits waiting for them with the ABC saying each person has an average amount owed of $240. You can check if your details are up to date on the myGov website or app.

Read more on 6 cards all Australians should apply for.

More info: Services Australia

3. Superannuation: worth understanding and maximising the opportunity

Superannuation provides a source of income in retirement. You can choose to receive your superannuation as a lump sum, regular payments, or a combination of both.

Eligibility: Superannuation is available to Australian workers. If you've been working and contributing to your superannuation fund (your employer has been legally obliged to do so for some years now), you can access your super when you reach preservation age, which is currently between 55 and 60, depending on when you were born.

Download Citro's free Calculating Retirement guide to understand how much superannuation you will have in retirement.

You can also read Citro's excellent explainer of how superannuation works as an income-stream in retirement.

Understand the 3 enriching phases of superannuation.

More info: Moneysmart

4. Pensioner Concession Card for people on government payments

This card offers various concessions, including reduced healthcare costs, discounts on utility bills, and discounts on public transport.

Eligibility: You may be eligible for a Pensioner Concession Card if you are aged 60 or over, and receive the age pension or other qualifying government payments. Read more on 6 cards all Australians should apply for.

More info: Services Australia

5. Senior Australians and Pensioners Tax Offset (SAPTO) for savvy taxation

SAPTO reduces the amount of tax you need to pay, or it may provide a tax refund if you're eligible. It can help lower your overall tax liability.

Eligibility: To be eligible for SAPTO, you need to be eligible for an Australian Government pension or allowance, and meet income limits for you and your spouse.

More info: Australian Tax Office

6. Home Care Packages for all kinds of help, from cleaning to shopping

These packages provide in-home support services, such as personal care, meal preparation, and assistance with household chores.

Eligibility: Home Care Packages are available to older Australians who need assistance with daily living activities due to age, illness, or disability. There is a complex assessment process to go through, so it's best to apply in advance of urgent need.

More info: My Aged Care

7. Senior Discount Cards for people over 60

These cards grant access to discounts on public transport, government services, and recreational activities in your local area. Look for the signs in businesses advertising senior card discounts – and it’s always worth asking if discounts are on offer.

Many seniors discounts are on offer for car registration and council rates, too - make sure to ask.

Eligibility: Various states and territories offer senior discount cards, which typically require you to be of age pension age. Read more on 5 cards all Australians should apply for.

More info: Google your state or territory and “senior discount card”

8. Energy rebates to manage bills better

Energy rebates help reduce the cost of electricity and gas bills, making energy more affordable – something we need now more than ever. Read more on Citro's 8 easy steps to reduce your energy costs.

Eligibility: States and territories offer their own energy rebates for seniors. Eligibility criteria may include Age Pension status or low-income status.

More info: Google your state or territory and “energy rebate”

9. Travel concessions on public transport and travel to regional areas

These discounts provide concession fares on public transport, including buses, trains, and ferries, making it more affordable to travel within your state.

Eligibility: Eligibility varies but seniors' travel discounts are typically available to those aged 60 or over.

More info: Google your state or territory and “travel concessions”

10. Legal and financial help in certain circumstances

A range of government-funded and not-for-profit services can provide advice and support in matters like Wills, estate planning, and financial management. You can read more about advanced planning, probate and the perils of dying without a Will on Citro.

Many superannuation funds offer free general advice for members - so call yours and find out what you can get.

Some people are eligible for No Interest Loans (NILs) which lend people up to $2000 interest free - visit the Good Shepherd website to find out more.

Eligibility: Legal and financial assistance services are often available to seniors. Eligibility may depend on your specific needs and circumstances. Community legal centres are independent, not-for-profit, community-based organisations. They provide free legal help to those most in need.

More info: Google your state or territory and “senior legal assistance” or visit Community Legal Centres Australia

11. Aged care services to help with a parent or partner who needs help

Aged care services encompass a range of options, including services for getting out and being social, services for getting some temporary help, services for keeping you well, and services for keeping your home liveable.

These services can be combined with home care services, too.

It's a complex system, but there is help and support available. It's best to start navigating the system early with an assessment.

Eligibility: Aged care services are available to older Australians who require support with daily living due to age-related or health-related needs.

More info: My Aged Care

12. Free financial counselling if you get into debt

Australia has excellent debt counselling services and provisions that prevent banks, telcos and utilities unfairly removing services from people struggling with payments.

Most people need to claim financial hardship provisions and can get free support, depending on their circumstances and eligibility.

More info: National Debt Helpline call 1800 007 007.

Advice given in this article is general in nature and is not intended to influence readers’ decisions about investing or financial products. They should always seek their own professional advice that takes into account their own personal circumstances before making any financial decisions.

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