Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
If you are registered for the Pension Bonus Scheme, you may be eligible to claim a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
As announced in the 2013-14 Budget, there will be no new registrations taken in the Pension Bonus Scheme from 1 March 2014. You must register before that date to be eligible for a Pension Bonus.
Registered members of the scheme will continue to be assessed under the existing rules.
- be registered in the scheme. To register now, you must have qualified for Age Pension before 20 September 2009
- have not received Age Pension or any other income support payment (other than Carer Payment) since qualifying for Age Pension, and
- meet the work test rules for at least 12 months from the date your membership started
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for the Pension Bonus Scheme
The scheme is voluntary and allows you to keep on working and accrue periods of work that count toward a lump-sum bonus when you stop working and claim Age Pension.
To join the Pension Bonus Scheme, you must have qualified for the Age Pension before 20 September 2009. Men must have been born before 20 September 1944 to qualify. Women must have been born before 1 January 1946.
Pension Bonus can only be paid to people who are registered in the scheme and have not received an income support payment (excluding Carer Payment) since qualifying for Age Pension. Income support payments include Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Special Benefit, Austudy, Bereavement Allowance, Widow Allowance, and Veterans’ Affairs service pensions.
Only one bonus is ever payable. You must claim your Pension Bonus at the same time you claim Age Pension. If you cannot get Age Pension, you cannot get a bonus.
Depending on your circumstances you may be better off claiming Age Pension now, rather than deferring the claim to get a Pension Bonus. We recommend you make an appointment with one of our Financial Information Service officers to get free and independent information to help you make this decision. Use our Payment Finder to explore other payments you may be eligible for based on your situation.
Register in the Pension Bonus Scheme
A Pension Bonus payment can only be paid to people who are registered in the scheme.
Residence requirements for the Pension Bonus Scheme
To be eligible for the Pension Bonus Scheme you must satisfy residence requirements. You must be:
- an Australian resident on both the day you register and on the day you lodge your claim, and
- be physically present in Australia on both the day you register and on the day you lodge your claim
You also need to have been an Australian resident for a continuous period of at least 10 years, or for a number of periods that total more than ten years, with one of the periods being at least five years, unless you:
- are a refugee or former refugee, or
- were getting Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance or Widow B Pension immediately before turning age pension age, or
- are a woman whose partner died while you were both Australian residents, and you have been an Australian resident for two years immediately before claiming Age Pension
If you have lived or worked in a country with which Australia has an international social security agreement, it may help you meet these residence requirements to register in the scheme. However, the provisions of an international social security agreement cannot be used when claiming your bonus.
The work test for the Pension Bonus Scheme
The work test for the Pension Bonus Scheme requires you to complete at least 960 hours of paid work each year—that is, an average of 20 hours per week for 48 weeks each year.
Accruing and non-accruing membership under the Pension Bonus Scheme
Only accruing membership can be counted toward your Pension Bonus. Non-accruing membership may allow you to remain in the scheme even if you cannot work.
Suitability of the Pension Bonus Scheme
The Pension Bonus Scheme may not suit everyone who continues working and defers claiming Age Pension. Some people may be better off financially if they claim Age Pension or a Veterans’ Affairs Service Pension while they work.
This can depend on:
- your current level of income and assets
- the amount of income you need when you retire from the workforce
- taxation issues
- superannuation, and
- health and lifestyle issues
We offer confidential, free, independent, expert information through our Financial Information Service. Financial Information Service officers can give you information to assist in planning for your future and retirement. You can also discuss your options with your own financial or taxation adviser. As with other financial plans, you will need to review your position from time to time.
Even if your best option now is to register for the Pension Bonus Scheme, you should keep up-to-date with the regular changes to pension rates and thresholds. You may be better off claiming Age Pension earlier than you originally planned.
Financial Information Service officers can also help you plan when to claim your bonus. To make an appointment with a Financial Information Service officer or ask for information on investment planning, call 132 300.
Payment rates of the Pension Bonus Scheme
The payment amount you can get depends on a number of factors.
Death before a Pension Bonus Scheme payment is paid
Pension Bonus is a personal entitlement. If you pass away before you make a successful claim for the bonus, the bonus amount cannot be transferred to your estate.
If you have a partner and you pass away before you make a successful claim for Age Pension and Pension Bonus, your surviving partner may be entitled to a Pension Bonus Bereavement Payment. The amount payable is based on your accrued bonus periods.
If you are registered for the Pension Bonus Scheme separately from your partner, you do not lose your own entitlement if your partner passes away. If, however, you are not working and have been relying on your partner’s work to meet the work-test requirements, you will need to start work or claim your bonus within 26 weeks of your partner’s death.
Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:
- register for the scheme (if you are not already registered)
- read the conditions for claiming
- decide how you will submit your claim, online, by mail or in person
- complete your forms
- gather your supporting documentation and complete any additional forms required
- submit your claim
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Pension Bonus Scheme for veterans
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has a similar Pension Bonus Scheme. For information on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Pension Bonus Scheme, call 133 254, or Freecall 1800 555 254.
News for Seniors
As a member of the scheme, you will be sent News for Seniors, a magazine containing news on payments and services.
Record your work hours
You will need to keep a record of the sort of work you are doing, dates on which you did the work, number of hours you worked, number of hours you worked outside Australia (if any), and names of your employers.
Download a copy of the Pension Bonus Scheme work record.