Does everyone have to complete a means assessment for an aged care home?
No. You should use the income and means assessment tool to find out if you need to.
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Aged care homes, like houses, come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. The challenge is finding the right option for your needs, budget, and preferences.
Understanding the different costs associated with aged care homes, how much you might have to pay, and what the government will contribute is crucial in helping you find the best option for your specific care needs and financial situation.
There are a number of costs associated with aged care homes. How much, and the types of costs you will have to pay depend on the place you choose and an assessment of your income and assets (means assessment). The different types of aged care home costs are:
Depending on which aged care home you choose and what you agree to with your provider, there are additional things you may be charged for. Unlike your care and accommodation costs, these fees are not set by the government. This means if you agree to them, you will need to pay the full cost yourself.
Your aged care provider must record all these fees in your resident agreement, your accommodation agreement and, if needed, your extra services agreement. Your accommodation and extra services agreements may be merged into your resident agreement.
The Australian Government subsidises aged care homes across Australia to provide affordable, accessible care. The subsidies and supplements are paid directly to each aged care home.
It’s important to understand how the different types of fees work before choosing your aged care home.
Everyone pays a basic daily fee. This fee helps pay for your day-to-day services such as meals, cleaning, facilities management, and laundry.
You pay this fee directly to your aged care home, generally on a fortnightly or monthly basis. The fee applies for every day you are a resident, including days when you might be away overnight—for example, on holiday or in hospital.
The basic daily fee is set at 85% of the single person rate of the basic age pension. The government updates it on 20 March and 20 September each year in line with increases to the age pension. Prices are published on the Department of Health website.
Based on current rates, the maximum basic daily fee is $52.71 per day, or $19,239.15 per year.
The means-tested care fee is an extra contribution that some people pay, as determined through a means assessment. It is an ongoing fee towards the cost of your personal and clinical care.
Personal care can include help with bathing, dressing, grooming, and going to the toilet. Clinical care can include services like specialised nursing services, medication assistance, or catheter care.
This means-tested care fee is different for everyone, and not everyone will have to pay it. If you do need to pay it, the exact amount will be determined once you enter care. Services Australia will let you and your provider know what this amount will be for you.
Your means-tested care fee will be between $0 and $259.26per day. The maximum means-tested care fee changes with indexation and is regularly updated on this site.
Your means-tested care fee does not remain fixed when you enter an aged care home; it can change over time. Read more about how your aged care fees can change over time.
You can use our fee estimator to find out if you need to pay a means-tested care fee and get an estimate of what the amount might be.
If you do have to pay a means-tested care fee, you may need to complete a means assessment to find out the exact amount. Read more about means assessments and find out if you need to complete one using our Income and means assessments tool.
Most people should complete their assessment after they have been assessed for an aged care home and before they have entered care. However, if you want to understand your costs upfront, you can complete your means assessment earlier.
There are annual and lifetime caps that apply to the means-tested care fee. Once you reach a cap, you cannot be asked to pay any more in means-tested care fees.
Annual and lifetime caps are indexed on 20 March and 20 September each year. The cap amounts that apply to you are those that are current when you reach them, not those that were current when you entered care.
The maximum an aged care home can charge you as of 20 March 2021 is:
Note: Any income-tested care fee you paid while you were receiving home care will also be counted towards the annual and lifetime caps if you move into an aged care home.
Every aged care home sets its own accommodation pricing. This pricing depends on factors such as location and room size. The amount you pay for your accommodation depends on the aged care home you choose and your eligibility for government help, which is worked out through a means assessment.
Everyone entering an aged care home needs to agree on a room price in writing with their provider before they enter care. Whether or not you need to pay the agreed amount will depend on your means assessment. As a general guide:
Your room price will depend on:
Aged care homes may set their room prices depending on:
While there is flexibility in how you pay for your accommodation, it’s still important to choose a room within your budget.
Prices vary from one provider to the next. So, it's important to look around and research all the costs for different homes and different rooms before making a choice.
You can find and compare room costs using the Find a provider tool.
Aged care homes are required to publish their maximum accommodation costs for their various rooms on this website. You and your provider can negotiate and agree to a lower price. However, you cannot be charged more than the published price for that room.
Read more about what to consider when shortlisting aged care homes—including location, type of room, and price negotiation—on our Connecting with aged care homes page.
No, you have three options as to how you can pay for your accommodation:
For detailed information about the different accommodation payment options, how each option works, and how to work out your costs, visit the Understanding aged care home accommodation costs page.
If you can afford it, you are expected to pay for your room. However, help with some or all of the accommodation costs is available to those who need it. This is determined by a means assessment, but as a general guide:
These income and asset amounts change with indexation on 20 March and 20 September every year and are up to date as at 20 March 2021.
Many aged care homes offer additional hotel-type services that you have to pay for. These services may include things like a preferred brand of toiletries, access to paid TV services, or arranging a hairdresser.
Some homes allow you to pick and choose what additional services you would like, so you only pay for what you use. Others may have a package of additional services they provide, and some of them must be agreed to as a condition of living in the home.
You and your provider must agree on a fee for additional services before you start receiving them. However, you can only be charged for additional services that you can make use of or benefit from. Because additional service offerings are specific to the provider, the fees for these services are set by the provider. They are not subsidised by the government.
Your home will be able to tell you what additional services they provide, their associated costs, and whether they are mandatory services that come with living at the home.
Some aged care homes have “extra service” status. This means that they can provide residents with a higher standard of hotel-type services—including specialised menus, higher quality linen or particular room furnishings. This extra service status can apply to the whole home or just to individual rooms.
Aged care homes with this status can charge a regular extra service fee, which pays for a bundle of extra services. If you agree to enter an extra service room, you will have to pay this fee, whether or not you use the full bundle of extra services provided. The fee will be covered in your extra service agreement.
Extra service fees are set by the provider and are not subsidised by the government. You will have to pay the full costs.
You can ask your aged care home if they have extra service status and whether they charge a fee, or use the Find a provider tool. If your preferred home has extra service status, ask for their list of bundled services. That way you will know exactly what you are entitled to receive for your extra service fee.
Aged care homes may be able to access further funding supplements from the government—to ensure you receive the care you need.
These include primary supplements like:
and other supplements like:
Read about the different residential aged care supplements available, eligibility for these supplements, and more on the Department of Health website.
Working out how much you will pay is a key step when deciding which aged care home is right for you. Some of the costs depend on your financial situation. So, before choosing a provider and agreeing to services, it’s a good idea to work out your costs, or at least get an estimate, so you know what to expect.
You can use the fee estimator to get an idea of:
Once that’s done, you can use the Find a provider tool to:
You will only know if the provider has additional service fees when you meet with them.
You can also use the income and assets checklist to get an idea of what financial information is taken into account.
You will need a means assessment to find out:
Whether you need to complete a means assessment for aged care will depend on whether you are receiving an Australian Government means-tested income support payment and whether you own your home.
You will not need to complete a means assessment for aged care. Services Australia will already have enough information to do the assessment for you.
When you enter care, Services Australia will send you a fee advice letter to confirm if you need to pay a means-tested care fee and/or accommodation costs. If you require a fee advice letter before you enter care, you can call Services Australia on 1800 227 475.
You will need to provide some extra information about your home so that Services Australia or DVA can complete your means assessment. Completing the Aged Care Calculation of your cost of care form (SA486) is the easiest way to do this.
You will need to provide information to Services Australia or DVA for a means assessment. You can do this easily through the Aged Care Calculation of your cost of care form (SA486).
If you don’t think your means assessment is correct, you can ask Services Australia, or DVA if relevant, to review their decision. They will follow up with you on the next steps.
If you have to do a means assessment, you will receive a fee advice letter once your assessment has been completed. The letter is valid for 120 days, unless there is a significant change in your circumstances. So you have ample time to find an aged care home and enter into an agreement.
Your fee advice letter will outline:
It will not outline:
If there is a change in your personal or financial circumstances, you’ll need to notify Services Australia (or DVA if relevant) so they can update your assessment and reissue your fee advice letter.
You should have your fee advice letter with you whenever you meet with potential aged care homes. The letter will advise if you are eligible for government assistance, or whether you can negotiate directly and pay the room price you agree to with the home.
If you can’t afford your aged care home costs for reasons beyond your control, you can ask to be considered for financial hardship assistance.
Depending on your situation, you may apply for financial hardship assistance with your basic daily fee, means-tested care fee, and/or accommodation costs. If you are eligible, the Australian Government will pay some or all of your aged care costs.
Note: You can’t receive financial hardship assistance for extra service fees or additional service fees, or if you are living in a multi-purpose service.
Yes, you can. In fact, it is recommended. Some accommodation payment methods may affect your pension and aged care fees. Also, if both you and your partner need access to aged care, each of your accommodation payment methods may impact the other’s aged care fees. So, it’s beneficial to seek independent financial advice before deciding how to pay for your aged care.
Services Australia’s Financial Information Service (FIS) is a free service available to everyone. FIS officers can show you how to make informed financial decisions. They can also help you to understand the financial implications of your aged care costs.
To find out more about FIS, or to make an appointment, call 132 300 and say “Financial Information Service” when asked why you are calling.
For more information and guidance on financial matters, you can also visit our financial support and advice page.
People who moved into an aged care home before 1 July 2014 will have their fees determined differently to those who move into a home from 1 July 2014 onward. For more information, see our aged care costs pre-1 July 2014 page.
No. You should use the income and means assessment tool to find out if you need to.
The aged care home will want to formalise the offer. This will involve some paperwork and contracts about your care, accommodation, and any extra services you may elect to receive.
Your aged care home can help make sense of the information. You can also ask family, friends, carers or a legal professional for help.
Preparing for your move is also important. Here is a list of what to expect when moving, which includes suggestions on who to tell, what you should bring, and who might be able to help you.