Aged care means test for residential care

We assess your income and assets to work out if you can get help with residential aged care accommodation.

What it is

The means test is where we check your income and assets to work out:

  • if you can get help to pay for aged care
  • how much you can get
  • how much you need to pay as your residential care contribution

We do this either:

  • before you move into permanent residential aged care
  • from the day you start living there

How it works

The means test assessment for aged care uses the same information we use for income support payments. It includes both your income and your assets. It can also include the value of your home.

Income

We add up all your and your partner’s earnings, including any:

  • deemed income from financial assets
  • money or assets you’ve gifted in the last 5 years

Read more about the income test.

Assets

We add up what all of your and your partner’s assets are worth.

In some cases we don’t count your former home.

Read more about the assets test.

If you’re in a couple

We count your partner’s income and assets in your means test.

To get the amount we use as your income we:

  • add what they earn to what you earn
  • divide the total by 2

To get the amount your assets are worth we:

  • add up the value of
    • assets in your name
    • assets in their name
    • assets in both of your names
  • divide the total by 2

If your income or assets change

We may change how much of your costs we pay and changes may not take effect until a quarterly review.

Your former home

If you own the home you lived in before going into care, we may count it as an asset. It depends on who’s living there.

When it doesn’t count as an asset

We won’t count it as an asset if someone who lives there is:

  • your partner
  • a dependent child under 16
  • a dependent full time student if they’re:
    • under 25
    • not on an income support payment
  • your carer if:
    • they’ve lived there for the past 2 years
    • they can get an income support payment
  • your parent, sister, brother, child or grandchild if:
    • they’ve lived there for the past 5 years
    • they can get an income support payment

If this person moves out, your home may start to count as an asset.

How we value it

We now cap the value of your home when we count it as an asset. This means that, regardless of the value, we cap your home value at $159,000 for 2 years.

If you went into care before 1 July 2014 we don’t do this. Your assets test includes the home’s full value.

Rental income

Any rental income you get from your former home now counts in the income test.

It doesn’t count if you went into care before 1 January 2016, and:

  • don’t leave care for more than 28 days without leave approval
  • pay at least part of your accommodation in regular amounts

Who needs to apply

You need to apply for a means test assessment for residential care if you’re:

  • a self-funded retiree
  • a home owner on an income tested payment
  • on a non income tested payment from us such as:
    • Age Pension (Blind)
    • Disability Support Pension (Blind)
    • Carer Allowance
    • Mobility Allowance, or
  • on a Department of Veterans’ Affairs:
    • Disability Pension
    • War Widow’s Pension, or
    • Service pension

When to apply

You can apply before or after you go into care.

If you apply before, you can use the result of your means test for up to 120 days. But you’ll need to let us know if your income, assets or anything else important changes.

How to apply

  1. Read the information you need to know about your Permanent Residential Assessment for Aged Care Request for a combined assets and income assessment.
  2. Fill in the Permanent Residential Aged Care Request for a Combined Assets and Income Assessment form. If you’re on a payment from us you may only need to fill in some parts of the form. We’ll already have some of your details.
  3. Post your form to:
    • us, or
    • the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

The addresses are on the form.

If you started care before 1 July 2014

The means test for residential aged care has changed. But if you went into care before 1 July 2014 we’ll still use the old test unless you have opted into the Post 1 July 2014 scheme.

Moving to a new care home

If you’re moving to a new care home you can ask us to change to the new means test. To do this, fill in the Continuing Care Recipient opting into the New Aged Care Arrangements – from 1 July 2014 form before you move.

Leaving and going back into care

We’ll use the new means test when you go back into care if:

  • you left care for more than 28 days, and
  • you didn’t have leave approval

Tell us about changes

You must tell us about any changes to your income or assets while we’re helping with your aged care fees.

Find out more

The My Aged Care website tells you more about:

If you still have questions, call us on the Aged Care Fee Assessments and Services line.

Page last updated: 6 September 2017