Low Income Health Care Card
A concession card to get cheaper health care and some discounts if you’re on a low income.
- under the income test limits
- meet residence rules
Eligibility & payment rates
Who can get a card
You don’t need to pass an assets test.
Children on your card
If your child’s name is on your card you can use it for their expenses.
We can put your dependent child on your card if:
- you’re their main carer, or
- they live with you for at least 2 nights every fortnight
They must be under 19 if you’re supporting them while they study.
Students and Australian Apprentices
You may be able to get the card if you’re on:
Call the Students and trainees line to apply.
Read about the non-income-tested Low Income Health Care Card.
How the income test works
We assess your Low Income Health Care Card on your gross income for the 8 week period ending on the day you submit your claim.
Your income must be below the amount in the table for your situation.
|Status||Weekly income||Income in an 8 week period|
|Single, no children||$546.00||$4,368.00|
|Couple combined, no children||$943.00||$7,544.00|
|Single, one dependent child||$943.00||$7,544.00|
|For each additional child, add||$34.00||$272.00|
When you apply for, or renew your card each year you need to pass the income test again.
To keep the card
To keep your card, your weekly income mustn’t go over the limit below, before your card expires. If it does we will cancel your card.
If your income changes, you must tell us. We will work out if you can keep your card.
|Status||Weekly income||Income in an 8 week period|
|Single, no children||$682.50||$5,460.00|
|Couple combined, no children||$1,178.75||$9,430.00|
|Single, one dependent child||$1,178.75||$9,430.00|
|For each additional child, add||$42.50||$340.00|
- employment income - wages, salary and self employment income
- employer provided fringe benefits
- rental income
- reportable superannuation contributions, salary sacrifice
- Centrelink pensions or benefits and some supplementary payments
- Department of Veterans' Affairs payments
- deemed income from financial investments such as bank accounts, managed investments and shares
- deemed income from account-based income streams
- income from income stream products such as superannuation pensions and defined benefit income streams
- foreign income
- private trusts and companies
- compensation, including periodical and lump sum
- New Enterprise Incentive Scheme
- Paid Parental Leave
- lump sum payments such as redundancy, leave, or termination payments
How we assess a lump sum payment
We asses a lump sum compensation payment as income for 12 months from the date you get it. This includes redundancy payments and lump sum leave payments, where you’re not returning to the same employer after your leave period has ended.
You must also be living in Australia and an Australian citizen, or here on a:
- permanent visa
- Special Category visa
- Partner Provisional visa subclass, or
- Temporary Protection visa
To keep using your card
You must meet these rules for the whole time you’re using the card. For example, if you no longer hold a valid visa you can’t keep using the card.
How long you need to have been a resident
If you hold of one of the visas mentioned above, you must have lived in Australia for 104 weeks before you can get a card.
What may be different
You may be exempt from serving the 104 weeks if you:
- are an Australian citizen
- arrived in Australia as a refugee
- hold a specific visa subclass, or
- things have changed and you’re going through hardships beyond your control
With your card you can get:
- cheaper medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
- bulk billed doctor visits – this is up to your doctor
- a bigger refund for medical costs when you reach the Medicare Safety Net
Your dependent child may also be able to get some of these benefits.
Your state or territory government and local council may offer you more. They may lower your:
- electricity and gas bills
- property and water rates
- public transport fare
- motor vehicle registration
Read more about what you can get where you live on the Australia.gov.au website.
Private companies may also offer you concessions if you show them your card.
Non-income tested card
We may have cancelled your pension on 1 January 2017 because of changes to the pension assets test.
If so, we would have sent you a non-income tested:
- Low Income Health Care Card, and
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card if you are age pension age
You don’t need to meet the income test for these cards.
If you got a non-income tested Low Income Health Care Card you will get a new Pensioner Concession Card after 9 October 2017.
If you were under age pension age on 1 January 2017, you’re automatically eligible for a non-income tested Low Income Health Care Card. You can apply for the non-income tested Commonwealth Seniors Health Card when you reach age pension age.
Check if you’re eligible before you start your claim.
- find out what you need before you start your claim
- fill in your claim
- submit your claim and any documents we ask for
- wait for us to assess your claim and tell you the result
Renewing a card
You get a Low Income Health Care Card for 12 months.
You’ll need to reapply to renew your card and meet the income test. We will tell you when it’s close to expiry.
Renew your card using your Centrelink online account through myGov Your details will automatically display in the form, so you only need to update any information that has changed.
You can also renew your card using the form we send you.
Change to Pensioner Concession Card
If you got a Low Income Health Care Card due to changes to the assets test on 1 January 2017, you will get a new Pensioner Concession Card after 9 October 2017. Cards may take up to 14 days to arrive in the mail. You can continue to use your non-income tested Low Income Health Care Card until your Pensioner Concession Card arrives in the mail. After then your non-income tested Low Income Health Card will no longer be valid.
You can use the Digital Wallet to show your concession or health care card with your smart device.
Some concession providers don’t accept digital cards. It’s a good idea to always carry your physical concession card.
How to get it
Get a digital copy of your health or concession card with the Digital Wallet in your Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.
- log on to the app
- select Digital Wallet from the menu or turn your device sideways to change views
- your card will drop down from the top of the screen. Swipe your screen up or down to display the front and the back of the card
If you have more than one concession or health care card, swipe the screen left or right to switch between cards.
If your card is no longer active, EXPIRED will appear across the digital card. An expired card will stay in your Digital Wallet for 28 days.
Try self service
Do your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self service options, including our Express Plus mobile apps, online accounts and phone self service.
Read more about using self service.
Change of circumstances
For example, you must tell us if:
- your personal circumstances change
- you change your address
- your income changes
- your care arrangements change, or
- your work or study load changes
How and when to tell us
The easiest way to tell us about changes is online. It’s never too late to report a change.
You need to tell us about the changes within 14 days.
If you don’t tell us about changes in your life, we may stop your card when we find out about them. If you deliberately don’t tell us, we could charge you with fraud.
Read about how to avoid fraud.
Lost or stolen card
If you travel outside Australia
When you can keep your card
If you leave Australia temporarily, your card will remain current for up to 6 weeks.
When you can’t keep your card
We’ll cancel your card if you leave Australia:
- temporarily and you will be away for more than 6 weeks, or
- if you go to live in another country
When you come back
If you’ve been overseas for more than 6 weeks you need to apply for the Low Income Health Care Card again.
When to tell us about your travel plans
You need to tell us if:
- you’re going to live in another country
- you’ll be away for more than 6 weeks
If you’re going away for less than 6 weeks you don’t need to tell us. The immigration department will tell us when you leave and return.
How to tell us
The easiest way is using your Centrelink online account through myGov.
Learn how to register for an online account if you don’t already have one.
If you can’t use an online account, tell us your travel plans by:
Read more about payments while outside Australia.
Someone to deal with us on your behalf
You can choose someone to be your correspondence nominee or a payment nominee.
They can be a different person or organisation for each nominee type or the same for both.
This does not stop you from dealing directly with us.
Centrelink correspondence nominee
Your correspondence nominee can do a lot of Centrelink things for you. This includes:
- asking us questions
- telling us of changes to your circumstances
- completing and signing forms and statements
- coming to appointments with you or, if appropriate, on your behalf, and
- getting copies of your letters from us
Centrelink payment nominee
Your payment nominee gets and uses your Centrelink payments on your behalf.
- can only use your payments to help you
- must keep records of the payments and how they spent the money
Making a Centrelink nominee arrangement
You can do this online or by completing a form.
You can manage your nominee arrangements using your Centrelink online account.
Both you and the person you want to be a nominee need to have a Centrelink online account. If you don’t have one, register now.
Your nominee will need to respond to a nominee request in their Centrelink online account within 14 days.
Fill in the Authorising a person or organisation to enquire or act on your behalf form. Then post or fax it to us or take it to a service centre.
We will need to see your nominee’s identity documents unless your nominee is an organisation.
Person permitted to enquire
You can choose someone just to enquire about your Centrelink payments and services.
They can be a person or an organisation.
How to appoint a person permitted to enquire
- fill in the authorising a person or organisation to enquire or act on your behalf form and post or fax it to us
- visit a service centre, or
- call us
Status Resolution Support Services Payment
You can arrange for another person or organisation to enquire with us on your behalf about your Status Resolution Support Services payment.
A person can act on your behalf for Medicare purposes when:
- they’re your appointed power of attorney (POA)
- a court or tribunal has appointed them as your guardian and administrator, or
- we’ve accepted them as your authorised representative
POA or guardian and administrator orders
You can use a POA or guardianship and administration order to appoint someone to act on your behalf. The POA or order must show your representative can act on your behalf for financial matters.
You’ll need to provide us with:
- an original or a certified copy of the POA document or guardianship and administration order, and
- a written letter of request which includes your Medicare number
A person can only nominate to be an authorised representative if:
- they can’t get a POA, guardianship order or administration order, and
- you can no longer manage your own affairs due to a medical condition or disability
To be someone’s authorised representative, you must:
- be over 18 years old
- be their close friend or relative
- not be their paid carer from any organisation, institution or community health care service
To apply, complete an Authorisation to act on a person’s behalf form. We also need original or certified copies of:
- current photo ID
- a statutory declaration – this should state how you know them and your care arrangements for them
- evidence you act on their behalf for a similar arrangement, and
- evidence the person is unable to manage their own affairs
Refer to the form for examples of documents you should give us.
The postal address is on the form.
You can appoint a nominee to deal with us on your behalf if you are in residential aged care or are getting a home care package.
Child Support representative
You can choose a person or organisation to be your child support representative. They will be able to:
- ask us questions
- give us information
- have access to and discuss your child support information
This person must be 18 or older. They shouldn’t be:
- a child who you paid or get child support for, even if they’ve turned 18
- the other parent in your child support case
You can choose:
- the date when they’ll stop being your representative
- the details they can know and discuss
- if they can arrange for you to pay us child support you owe
- if they can update your contact details with us
- make choices about changing your child support, such as asking us to change your collection option
- sign documents on your behalf
How to appoint a Child Support representative
- complete the Representative Authority form, or
- write a letter of authorisation signed and dated by you and your representative
A letter of authorisation should tell us:
- enough information to identify your representative
- the details you want them to discuss with us
- the date they’ll stop being your representative
Then submit it:
Other concession and health care cards
Concession and health care cards can help you access cheaper health care services and medicines.
Payment and Service Finder
Find, estimate and compare payments and services you may be eligible for. You can also work out what a change in circumstance might mean for the payments and services you currently get from us.
Manage your money
We’ve got advice and tools to help you with budgeting, borrowing and credit, and managing debt.
Read about how to manage your money.
Green Army Programme
About the program
The Green Army Programme is administered by the Department of the Environment. It gives you the skills, training and experience to improve your employment prospects. The projects you participate in generate real and lasting benefits for the environment and heritage places.
You can apply if you're:
- aged 17 to 24 years
- an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia, and
- a school leaver, gap year student, graduate, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian, person with disability, or an unemployed job seeker
If you’re aged 25 years or older and identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian, you may still be able to apply. Your knowledge of Indigenous culture may help towards successful Green Army projects.
You don't have to apply for, or be getting, any of our payments to apply for the Green Army Programme. Read more about the Green Army and how to apply for positions on the Department of the Environment website.
You must tell us if you get an income support payment and will be participating in the Green Army. This is to ensure you don’t get a debt with us.
You’ll be advised in writing if you’re accepted into the Green Army. You need to bring this letter into a service centre within 14 days of starting the program. Failing to tell us may result in an overpayment that you’ll need to repay.
Green Army participation affects your payments
Your partner’s payments
The income you earn by participating in the Green Army could affect your partner’s payments. Contact us to find out more.
Income support payments
If you join the Green Army full time, your income support payment will be put on hold. You'll get an allowance from your Green Army Service Provider.
If you join the Green Army part time, you may be able to choose to either continue getting your income support payment or get a pro-rata allowance from your Green Army Service Provider.
This may apply if you:
- are a principal carer
- have a partial capacity to work, or
- are an early school leaver and have part time requirements because you are a principal carer or have a partial capacity to work
If you continue getting your income support payment, you will also get an Approved Program of Work Supplement of $20.80 per fortnight. If you are not sure which option is better for you, please ask us.
If your income support payment is put on hold because you get the Green Army allowance, you will not be able to use your Pensioner Concession Card or Health Care Card. However, you may be eligible for a Low Income Health Care Card.
This won't affect you if you're participating part time and continue to get your income support payment.
You may be eligible for Mobility Allowance to help with travel if you can't use public transport without substantial assistance due to disability, illness or injury.
Meeting your mutual obligation requirements
While you’re participating in the Green Army you’ll be meeting your mutual obligation requirements. You can stay in contact with your employment services provider for support if you wish. You may still need to attend appointments with us.
Restarting a payment after your placement ends
When your Green Army placement ends you should tell us if you want to get an income support payment again. Your Green Army Service Provider will give you a cessation advice, which you should bring into a service centre within 14 days of finishing your placement.