Aged care means test assessments
We can assess your income and assets to see if you can get government subsidised aged care.
You need to know
To get government subsidised aged care, you need to have:
- 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 don't have to wait for an ACAT assessment to apply for an aged care means test assessment. We use the means test assessment 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 get government help with the costs of your aged care and you will pay the maximum fees.
We review your aged care fees quarterly. New fees start each year on:
- 1 January
- 20 March
- 1 July, and
- 20 September
The quarterly review:
- looks at changes to your care needs or financial circumstances
- sets your fees for the next quarter, and
- works out if you should get any refunds
You can ask us to review your aged care fees and charges if your circumstances change.
We send letters to you and your nominee to let you know if there is a change in your fees. We will also send a letter to your aged care provider. If there is a new fee after an ad hoc review, we apply your new rate from the date of the review.
If you get an income support payment from us, you need to let us know within 14 days if you:
- move into residential aged care, or
- 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 pay.
If you are a self-funded retiree, you should also tell us about any big changes in your financial circumstances.
Most people keep getting the same amount of pension after moving into residential aged care. If you are a member of a couple and you need to separate due to illness, your get a higher rate of pension
Aged care residents do not usually get Rent Assistance.
If you still own your former home
If you own your home, it is exempt from the pension assets test while you live there. It will stay exempt for 2 years after you leave it to enter a care situation. The date the 2 years starts from can vary. It depends on when you change your address and if you are, or were, a member of a couple at the time you enter care.
After the 2 years, your former home will count as an asset for the pension assets test and this can affect the rate of your pension.
Your former home, and rental income from it, will stay exempt from the pension income and assets test if you:
- rent it out
- have entered permanent residential aged care, and
- pay an accommodation payment or contribution by periodic payments
If you enter care on or after 1 January 2017, and you pay your accommodation fees periodically, we include the rental income you earn from your former home in the income test for your income support payment.
Read more about real estate assets.
For more information about how residential aged care can affect your payment, call the older Australians line.
Appoint a nominee
If you are in residential aged care or get a home care package, you can authorise another person to deal with us on your behalf. They are known as a nominee.
The nominee will get information from us about your care costs. They will give us information about your income and assets. You can change or cancel your 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 get 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.
If you live in an institution such as a nursing home, hospital or hostel, you can have your pension paid directly to them by completing a please send my payment to an institution – Group payment form.
Home Care helps you to stay in your own home for longer.
Read more about help at home on the My Aged Care website.
We use an income assessment to work out if you can get government subsidised Home Care.
If you get a means tested income support payment, such as Age Pension or a Service Pension from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), we will assess you automatically. We use information we already have from you to work out your subsidy. Your contribution will depend on your 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 you have gifted within the last 5 years.
If you are in a couple, we assess your and your partner’s income together. We will consider you to have half the 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
- getting a non-income tested government payment, such as Age Pension (Blind), Disability Support Pension (Blind), Carer Allowance or Mobility Allowance, or
- getting a DVA Disability Pension or War Widow’s Pension and don't get the Income Support Supplement
Complete and return an Aged Care Fees Income Assessment form.
Read the information you need to know about your request for Aged Care Fees Income Assessment before you start your claim.
If you choose not to apply, you will need to pay the maximum income tested fee to the provider of your help at home.
You can apply before or after you start getting Home Care. If we assess you before starting Home Care, the initial fee advice you get will be valid for 120 days. However, you will need to let us know if your 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 they reach these caps, they cannot ask you to pay more income tested care fees. The Australian Government will pay these fees for you reach 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 get Home Care and are having trouble paying your basic daily fee or income tested care fee, you may be able to get financial hardship assistance.
You will not get financial hardship assistance if you:
- started a Home Care Package before 1 July 2014
- have gifted more than $10,000 in the last 12 months or more than $30,000 in the last 5 years, or
- have assets, unless they are unrealisable assets, and their value is more than $33,813 from 20 September 2015
Read more about financial hardship assistance on the My Aged Care website.
Residential Care helps and supports you while you live in an aged care home.
Read more about Residential Care on the My Aged Care website.
We assess your assets and income to see if you can get government subsidised residential aged care accommodation. We use the assessment to work out your Residential Care contribution. The amount you need to pay will depend on your circumstances.
We assess you 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, we will continue to assess you using the previous income and assets assessments. You can ask us to assess you 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 before you move to a new provider.
If you leave care for more than 28 days without getting leave approval and then re-enter care, we will assess you under the current rules.
If you are in a couple, we will assess your and your partner’s income together. We will consider you to have half the assets.
How we assess your former home
If you own your former home, we may assess it as an asset. We will not assess it if it is occupied at the relevant time by:
- your partner
- a dependent child younger than 16 years of age
- a dependent full time student younger than 25 years of age who is not getting an income support payment
- your carer who has lived in the home for the past 2 years and is eligible to get an income support payment, or
- your parent, sister, brother, child or grandchild, who has lived in the home for the past 5 years and is eligible to for an income support payment
If the person who is living in your home moves out, your home may no longer be exempt.
If your home is included as an asset, we will cap its value. If you entered care before 1 July 2014, we will not cap it and will assess the full value of your home.
If you entered Residential Care on or after 1 January 2016 and rent out your former home, we will also assess the rental income.
We will not assess rental income from your former home if you:
- entered care before 1 January 2016, and
- are paying your accommodation costs by periodic payment, or both periodic and lump sum payments
If you are formally discharged from Residential Care for more than 28 days on or after 1 January 2016, we will assess rental income from your former home 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:
- getting 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
You can ask for us to assess you before or after you enter care. If we assess you before you enter Residential Care, the initial fee advice you get will be valid for 120 days. However, you will need to let us know if your circumstances change, such as changes to your income and assets.
Complete and return a Permanent Residential Aged Care - Request for a Combined Assets and Income Assessment form. If you are getting an income support payment, you may only need to complete some parts of the form as we already have some of your information.
For more information about aged care means test assessments, call us on 1800 227 475.
If you are in Residential Care and are having trouble paying your fees, you may get financial hardship assistance.
If you are an aged care provider, read more information for aged care providers.