Member for Page Janelle Saffin has moved to reassure seniors in her electorate about changes to the income test Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

“I’ve had self-funded retirees and age pensioners ringing my office needlessly worried, because of the deliberate misinformation being spread by the National Party on this matter,” she said.

“I can reassure seniors that it is not true that self-funded retirees on low incomes are to lose their health cards, or have their income slashed, as wrongly stated by National’s Senator  Fiona Nash.

“The legislation does not change the income cut-off levels for eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

“These remain at $50,000 for singles and $80,000 for couples and there is no asset test for the card.

“What will change is the income that is taken into account in assessing eligibility.

“The changes mean that income from a superannuation income stream with a taxed source will be taken into account, as will income that is salary-sacrificed into super.

“These changes mean the income assessment best reflects the disposable income available to people claiming the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

“I understand that these are hard times for many pensioners and self-funded retirees, and it is important that concession benefits are directed to those seniors that need them most.

“As well, for part pension/self-funded retirees, the deeming rates have dropped for the third time since November 2008.

“From 20 March 2009 the upper deeming rate will decrease from 4 per cent to 3 per cent for the balance of financial investments over $41,000 for single pensioners or $68,200 for a couple. The lower deeming rate will decrease from 3 per cent to 2 per cent for balances up to those amounts.

“Deeming rates are now half what they were for much of last year and are at their lowest since 2004.

“There is no way of knowing how many or few CSHC holders might be affected. With the present economic climate, more and more self-funded retirees are becoming eligible for the card due to the lower return on their super funds.”