In the 2009-10 Budget the Government announced the introduction of the Seniors Supplement to assist eligible seniors with the cost of general living expenses.
The Seniors Supplement incorporates the former Seniors Concession Allowance and the higher rate of Telephone Allowance.
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To qualify for the Seniors Supplement the person must hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or be an eligible Department of Veterans' Affairs Gold Card holder.
Seniors Supplement is not payable if a cardholder has elected not to receive the payment, and that election has not been withdrawn. It is also not payable if a cardholder has not provided their bank account details when requested.
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The final payments of Seniors Concession Allowance and Telephone Allowance were made to eligible card holders soon after 20 September 2009.
The Seniors Supplement is equivalent to the minimum rate of the Pension Supplement paid to part pensioners.
Information about the Seniors Supplement rates can be obtained from Centrelink on 13 2300 or from the Centrelink website.
The first instalment of Seniors Supplement was made as soon as possible after 20 December 2009. Seniors Supplement is paid in quarterly instalments as soon as possible after each of the test days - 20 March, 20 June, 20 September and 20 December each year.
The Seniors Supplement has been accruing on a daily basis since 20 September 2009. This means that if a person becomes eligible during a quarter, the amount of their Seniors Supplement will reflect the number of days they were eligible during that quarter. Similarly, if a person ceases eligibility before the end of the quarter, the amount of their Seniors Supplement will be adjusted so that they are paid for the number of days they were eligible.
Example: Bruce has held a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card for three years but then lodges a claim for Age Pension on 2 November 2009. Bruce has accrued Seniors Supplement from 20 September 2009 to 1 November 2009 (43 days). This accrued entitlement will be paid as soon as possible after his Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is cancelled.
He is granted an Age Pension from 2 November 2009. He commences to accrue Pension Supplement from 2 November 2009.
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Seniors Supplement is payable for the first six weeks of a temporary absence from Australia. (This period changed from 13 weeks to six weeks on 1 January 2013.)
If a temporary absence extends past six weeks, the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is cancelled and Seniors Supplement qualification is lost. Any accrued entitlement of Seniors Supplement will be paid soon afterwards. When a person returns to Australia and re-claims the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Seniors Supplement commences to accrue again.
A new streamlined phone claim process has been introduced to assist Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders who are overseas for more than six weeks to have their card re-issued. After returning to Australia, a claim for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card can be assessed by answering a few simple questions over the phone. If granted, the card can be re‑activated overnight, allowing the cardholder to receive the full range of benefits the card provides. (This phone claim service will only be available to people who have up‑to‑date income details and have contacted Centrelink within 13 weeks of their Commonwealth Seniors Health Card being cancelled.)
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For further information about the Seniors Supplement please contact Centrelink on 13 2300 or visit the Centrelink website.