Nick Bruining: Check your Pensioner Concession Card to ensure your family isn’t missing out on your discounts

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Nick Bruining
The Nightly
The Pensioner Concession Card offers huge savings and discounts to those who hold one. But did you know any dependants in your household can also benefit. Here’s how to make sure they do.
The Pensioner Concession Card offers huge savings and discounts to those who hold one. But did you know any dependants in your household can also benefit. Here’s how to make sure they do. Credit: Daniel Grill/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Newly granted age pensioners, where only one member of a couple is eligible, have been urged to check their Pensioner Concession Card to ensure their partner is listed.

It comes after errors were picked up by financial advisers, with the name of the dependent partner found to be missing on some cards.

It could mean that dependants are missing out on a range of concessions and discounts available to holders of Centrelink-issued concession cards.

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The problems don’t appear to be widespread, with Your Money at this stage only aware of a handful of examples.

The missing names may be attributable to manual processing errors brought about by a big increase in new staff. The agency responsible for processing the applications, Services Australia, announced and recruited an additional 3000 staff to deal with new-claims processing delays that, in some cases, stretched back months.

Former Centrelink manager turned independent financial planner David McGregor said the names of all dependants in the household should appear on the bottom of the Pensioner Concession Card.

“It’s done when the card is issued, so you need to check it as soon as it arrives,” Mr McGregor said. “If they are missing, you will need to get in touch with Centrelink to have the problem fixed.”

Another former Centrelink staffer Annette Sinclair said that while part of a pension application was automated within Services Australia’s systems, there was still a human component to assessing a claim.

“There’s a lot to learn, and with so many new staff brought on in such a short period of time errors are bound to slip through occasionally,” Ms Sinclair said.

The most significant benefit of having a partner or other dependants listed on the card is that they can access the special PBS prescription drug co-payment.

“Many people aren’t aware that this concession applies to their partner, even if they don’t get a pension,” Mr McGregor said.

For PCC holders and their dependants, the co-payment is just $7.70 per prescription with an annual safety-net cap of $277.20 for the calendar year. Once this level is reached, PBS-listed drugs are free.

In addition, local government and water supply charge rebates and other concessions also apply to those holding the card.

In the case of some local government charges, a 50 per cent rebate applies, capped at $750 per household. For water supply charges, a 50 per cent discount can apply to a cap of $600.

Seniors were hoping that last month’s State Budget would have included a lift to these capped amounts which were first set in 2015 and haven’t been increased since.

Nick Bruining is an independent financial adviser and a member of the Certified Independent Financial Advisers Association

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