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Thousands of Aussies get cost-of-living relief

Australian people shopping at Coles for groceries. Cost of living concept. Australian money notes.
Changes to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card kick in today, with thousands of Aussies now eligible for cost-of-living relief. (Source: AAP/Getty)

Changes to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card kick in today, with thousands of Aussies now eligible for cheaper medication and doctor visits.

The income threshold for seniors' health care cards has been increased from $57,761 to $90,000 for singles, and from $92,416 to $144,000 for couples. The change means an extra 44,000 seniors can access the scheme.

The card gives self-funded retirees cheaper medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), bulk-billed doctor visits and a refund for medical costs when you reach the Medicare Safety Net.

Cardholders can also get discounts on electricity and gas, property and water rates, public transport and other healthcare costs, depending on the rules in their state or territory.

For instance, NSW cardholders can access a rebate of $200 per household per financial year to help cover the cost of electricity.

The changes were an election promise by the Federal Government and will cost $69.4 million over the next four years.

"We want to create a better Australia where no one is left behind and no one is held back, and this is particularly true for older Australians," Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said.

It follows changes to the cost of medicines under the PBS, with the Government cutting the cost of medicines by $12.50.

Who is eligible for the seniors health card?

The card is available if you have reached Age Pension age - currently 66 years and six months.

You need to be a self-funded retiree and cannot already receive social security or other benefits from Services Australia or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

You also have to be living in Australia as a citizen, on a permanent visa or a Special Category visa.

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