'If you are aged over 66 and even if you don't receive an aged pension from Centrelink, you may still be eligible for a Seniors Health Card,' says Jyoti Aujla from the Department of Human Services. Like with aged pension eligibility, the applicant doesn't need to be an Australian citizen, and may still be able to get benefits like buying medicines at a discount.
Jyoti Aujla from the Smart Centre Operations Division of the Department of Human Services says many people - especially migrants - don't realise that even if they don't receive an aged pension from Centrelink, they may still be able to enjoy some other benefits.
"People aged over 66 can get many concessions from Centrelink, with the most important one being a Seniors Health Card. This enables them to buy cheaper medicines at pharmacies, among other benefits," says Ms Aujla.
"To be eligible, a single applicant should earn no more than $54,929 and a couple should earn $87,884 or under, to get the Seniors Health Card. In certain cases, couples can have a combined income of $109,858. It's best for people to discuss their individual cases, to confirm their eligibility."
"As with an aged pension, permanent residency is enough, and Australian citizenship is not a necessary criterion. And Seniors Health Card holders can live overseas for up to 19 weeks without impacting their eligibility."
Ms Aujla explains that if the cardholders do go overseas for over 19 weeks, they can get a new card issued when they come back.
"It's really easy to get a new card after returning to Australia - but it is necessary for us to discontinue a card when people live overseas for a longer period of time."
She also explained other benefits like home care and care in a nursing home, which are both forms of aged care.
"This is assessed based on income, property, overseas earnings, superannuation and other assets, as well as the medical situation of the person."
"Although a majority of our services are for permanent residents and citizens of Australia, in some cases, we are able to provide special assistance to temporary migrants as well. It's best to a Centrelink office and explain your circumstances to see if any specialised service can be provided for a short period of time," adds Ms Aujla.
"To find out more, people can ring 13 23 00 which is the Older Australian hotline at DHS, or if they need a Punjabi interpreter, call 13 12 02 for the multilingual services and ask for a person who can speak to you in Punjabi."
"We find that older people are now getting more and more tech-savvy. I suggest they subscribe to our newsletter which provides regular updates. Otherwise, all information is available on www.humanservices.gov.au/agedcare
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