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At MLC Advice Canberra, we often work with clients on assessing their eligibility for the Age Pension and other social security programs from Centrelink. Sometimes though it’s less about gaining access to a payment and more about the concession card which can lead to significant savings on rates, utilities and medicines. Here are some of the benefits available to ACT residents:

Rates concessions

A pension concession card holder will receive a discount of 50% on their rates, up to $675 a year, and a 50% discount on the fire & emergency services levy which is another $65 a year.

That’s a total of $740 in cash savings every year.

Concession card holders also have the option of deferring their rates. Interest is charged which for the last 12 months was 5.28%. That’s a pretty low rate when compared to other options like reverse mortgages and could be good for those who have good equity in their homes but are low on cashflow.

The savings on your power bill amount to $426 a year in the 2014-15 financial year. This rebate does vary depending on the time of year, there’s a bigger subsidy during the colder months so if you’re only eligible for a part year it will depend on which months of the year you were claiming as to how much you’re receiving.

You can also pick up another $343 each year in sewerage concessions and a $725 a year water rebate.

So those utility bill savings can add up to $1,494 every year – a pretty big saving in retirement.

More details on the rates and utilities concessions can be found athttp://www.assistance.act.gov.au.

pension sampleMedicine concessions

Any medicines that are covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) go from $36.90 per script down to $6.00 per script if you hold a concession card. Not only that but there is a much lower threshold on the PBS Safety Net which means that once you’ve spent $360 in a year on PBS medicines then any further prescriptions are free for the year.

A pensioner who has one script to fill each week would go from spending $1,918 a year down to $312 a year – a saving of $1,606 a year.

You can find more information on the PBS scheme at http://www.pbs.gov.au and details of the PBS Safety Net athttp://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/pbs-safety-net.

And if you’d like advice in this area or anything else pertaining to financial planning, you can give me a call at MLC Advice Canberra on 6247 1233