Aged care means test assessments
An assessment of your income and assets for government subsidised aged care.
You need to know
To be eligible to receive government subsidised aged care, you need to complete:
- an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessment, and
- an aged care means test assessment
An ACAT will assess your needs and recommend and approve suitable aged care.
Find your nearest ACAT on the My Aged Care website.
You do not have to wait for an ACAT assessment to apply for an aged care means test assessment. The means test assessment is used to work out how much of your aged care fees can be subsidised by the government.
You can choose not to have a means test assessment. This means you will not receive government assistance towards the costs of your aged care and you will be asked to pay the maximum fees.
Your aged care fees are reviewed quarterly and become effective each year on:
- 1 January
- 20 March
- 1 July, and
- 20 September
The quarterly review:
- aligns the aged care fees you pay with changes to your care needs or financial circumstances
- sets your aged care fees for the next quarter, and
- calculates any aged care fee refunds that may be due
You can ask us to review your aged care fees and charges if your circumstances change.
Notification letters will be sent to you and your nominee to advise you of the outcome if there is a change in your aged care fees. We will also send a notification letter to your aged care provider. If a new fee is set after an ad hoc review, your new rate is applied from the date the review takes place.
If you receive an income support payment from us, you need to let us know within 14 days if you move into residential aged care, or if you sell or rent out your home.
Changes in your circumstances may affect your rate of payment as well as the aged care fees you may be asked to pay.
If you are a self-funded retiree you should also tell us about any significant changes in your financial circumstances.
Most people continue to be paid the same amount of pension after moving into residential aged care. If you are a member of a couple and you are separated due to illness, your pension may be paid at a higher rate.
If you own your home, it is exempt from the pension assets test while you live there. It will remain exempt for 2 years after you leave it to enter a care situation. The date the 2 year exemption period starts from can vary if you are, or were, a member of a couple at the time you changed address to receive care.
Once the 2 year exemption period has ended, the value of your former home will normally be counted as an asset for the pension assets test and this can affect the rate of your pension.
The value of your former home and rental income from your former home will stay exempt from the income support payment assets test if you:
- rent out your former home
- have entered permanent residential aged care, and
- pay an accommodation payment or contribution by periodic payments
Rent Assistance is not usually paid to aged care residents.
For more information about how residential aged care can affect your payment, call us on 132 300.
Appoint a nominee
If you are in residential aged care or are receiving a home care package you can authorise another person (a nominee) to deal with us on your behalf.
The nominee will receive information from us about your care costs and will give us information about your income and assets. You can change or cancel the appointment of a nominee at any time by writing to us.
If your nominee does not hold Power of Attorney or similar, both you and your nominee will receive letters from us.
To authorise another person to be your nominee and deal with us on your behalf complete the Aged Care Appointment of a Nominee form.
Home Care helps you to stay in your own home for longer.
Read more about the different services for help at home on the My Aged Care website.
We use an income assessment to assess your eligibility to receive government subsidised Home Care.
If you get a means tested income support payment, such as Age Pension or a Service Pension from DVA, your income assessment is automated. We use information you have already provided to work out your government subsidy. Your contribution will vary, depending on your personal circumstances.
We assess your income in the same way as we do for your income support payment. This includes deemed income on financial assets and on money or assets that have been gifted within the last 5 years.
If you are a member of a couple, you and your partner’s combined income will be assessed. You will be considered to have half the combined income.
Applying for an income assessment
You only need to apply for an income assessment for Home Care if you are:
- a self-funded retiree
- receiving a non-income tested government payment, such as Age Pension (Blind), Disability Support Pension (Blind), Carer Allowance or Mobility Allowance, or
- receiving a DVA Disability Pension or War Widow’s Pension and do not receive the Income Support Supplement
Complete and return an Aged Care Fees Income Assessment form (SA456).
If you choose not to apply for the assessment, you will be asked to pay the maximum income tested fee to the provider of your help at home.
You can ask for an income test assessment before or after you start receiving Home Care. If you complete the assessment before starting Home Care, the initial fee notification advice you receive will be valid for 120 days. However, you will need to let us know if your personal circumstances change, such as changes to your income.
Annual and lifetime caps
There are caps to the fees your help at home provider can charge. Once these caps are reached, you cannot be asked to pay more income tested care fees. The Australian Government will pay these fees for you after you have reached these caps. Read more about these caps and Home Care package income tested care fees on the My Aged Care website.
For more information about aged care income assessments call us on 1800 227 475.
If you receive Home Care, you may be eligible for financial hardship assistance for your basic daily fee and income tested care fee.
You will not be eligible for financial hardship assistance if you:
- started a Home Care Package before 1 July 2014
- have gifted more than $10,000 in the previous 12 months or more than $30,000 in the previous 5 years, or
- have assets, unless they are unrealisable assets, valued at more than $33,813 from 20 September 2015
Read more about financial hardship assistance on the My Aged Care website.
Residential Care provides you with help and support while living in an aged care home.
Read more about Residential Care on the My Aged Care website.
We use a combined assets and income assessment to assess your eligibility for government subsidised residential aged care accommodation. We use the assessment to work out your Residential Care contribution. The amount you are asked to pay will vary, depending on your personal circumstances.
Your combined assets and income assessment is based on your circumstances, either:
• before you enter permanent Residential Care, or
• on the day you enter Residential Care
Your assessment may change if your circumstances change, such as changes to your income or assets.
If you entered permanent residential aged care before 1 July 2014, you will continue to be assessed using the previous income and assets assessments. You can ask to be assessed under the current means test if you move to a new provider. You will need to complete the Continuing Care Recipient opting into the New Aged Care Arrangements from 1 July 2014 form (AC022) before you move to a new provider.
If you leave care for more than 28 days without approved leave and then re-enter care, you will be assessed under the current rules.
If you are a member of a couple, you and your partner’s combined income will be assessed. You will be considered to have half the combined assets.
How we assess your home as an income and asset
Your home will be counted as an asset for aged care purposes unless it is occupied at the relevant time by:
- your partner
- a dependent child younger than 16 years of age
- a dependent student younger than 25 years of age who is in full time studies and not receiving an income support payment
- your carer who has lived in the home for the past 2 years and is eligible to receive an income support payment, or
- a close relative, either your parent, sister, brother, child or grandchild, who has lived in the home for the past 5 years and is eligible to receive an income support payment
If the person who is occupying your home moves out, your home may no longer be exempt from your aged care means test. If your home is included as an asset, its value will be capped. If you entered care prior to 1 July 2014, the value of your home will not be capped, and the full value of your home will be an assessable asset.
If you entered Residential Care on or after 1 January 2016, rental income from your former principal home is included in the combined assets and income assessment.
Rental income from your former principal home is exempt from the aged care combined assets and income assessment if you:
- entered care before 1 January 2016, and
- are paying your accommodation costs by periodic payment, or a combination of periodic and lump sum payment
If you are formally discharged from Residential Care for more than 28 days on or after 1 January 2016, rental income from your former principal home will be included in the aged care means test if you re-enter care.
Applying for a combined assets and income assessment
You need to apply for a combined assets and income assessment if you are:
- receiving an income support payment, such as Age Pension, Service Pension, Age Pension (Blind), Disability Support Pension (Blind), Carer Allowance, Mobility Allowance, DVA Disability Pension or War Widow’s Pension, or
- a self-funded retiree
If you are receiving an income support payment you may only need to complete certain sections of the assessment as we already have some of your information.
You can ask for combined assets and income assessment before or after you enter care. If you complete an assessment before entering Residential Care, the initial fee notification advice you receive will be valid for 120 days. However, you will need to let us know if your personal circumstances change, such as changes to your income and assets.
For more information about aged care means test assessments call us on 1800 227 475.
If you are in Residential Care, you may receive financial hardship assistance.
Read more about information for aged care providers, including requesting forms and support in your industry.