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Health care worker in discussion with resident

Financial hardship assistance

Financial hardship assistance is for when you are having difficulty paying your aged care fees and payments for reasons beyond your control.

If you can’t afford to pay for your care costs, there is financial hardship assistance available to help you get the care you need.

If granted, the Australian Government will pay some or all of your fees and charges. Each case is assessed on an individual basis, looking at a range of issues that may be relevant to your current situation.

Financial hardship assistance for home care packages

The Australian Government may pay some or all of your fees if you started receiving a home care package on or after 1 July 2014. The value of your assets will be taken into account as part of the assessment process.

You will not be eligible for financial hardship assistance if you were receiving a home care package before 1 July 2014. However you can negotiate lower fees directly with your home care provider.

Financial hardship assistance for residential respite care (short-term care)

You may be granted financial hardship assistance to have your basic daily fee reduced. The value of your assets will be taken into account as part of the assessment process.

Financial hardship assistance for permanent residential care (aged care homes)

You may be granted financial hardship assistance to have your basic daily fee, means-tested care fees and/or accommodation costs reduced. Financial hardship assistance is not granted for extra and additional service fees.

Eligibility for financial hardship assistance

You will not be eligible for financial hardship assistance if you have:

Unrealisable assets

If you have assets valued at more than $35,735.72, you may be able to apply for an asset to be declared as ‘unrealisable’ as part of your hardship assessment. An asset is considered unrealisable if you cannot sell it or borrow against it.

The following assets may be considered unrealisable:

  • a house that has been on the market for 6 months or more
  • jointly owned property
  • gifting where the decision to gift was made when the person was incapacitated or was made by a Power of Attorney
  • frozen assets.

The following assets are not considered unrealisable for financial hardship assistance purposes: 

  • rented properties
  • private trusts and private companies.

More information on unrealisable assets will be available when you apply for financial hardship assistance through DHS.

Essential expenses

If you meet the above criteria, DHS will check to see how much income you have access to after you have paid all of your essential expenses. If you have access to more than 15 per cent of the basic age pension amount (or $125.16 per fortnight as at 20 September 2018), you may not be eligible for financial hardship assistance.

Residential care

Essential expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • resident fees
  • rent or mortgage repayments for the principal home where your partner or a dependent child lives
  • private health insurance
  • ambulance cover
  • medical expenses, including expenses incurred under a health professional’s direction
  • transport costs to go to medical appointments
  • dental care
  • prescription glasses (one pair per year) or contact lenses
  • artificial limbs, eyes or hearing aids for amounts that are not already covered by other government schemes or programs
  • wheelchair and mobility aids
  • regular funeral plan payments.

You cannot include:

  • extra service fees
  • amounts paid for additional care and services
  • amounts spent by a person, authorised to act on your behalf, other than for your benefit.

Home care

Essential expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • home care fees
  • food costs
  • costs relating to the principle home, including:
    • rent or mortgage repayments
    • home maintenance, including repair and replacement costs
    • home insurance
    • rates
    • water, sewerage, gas and electricity costs
    • telephone and internet costs
  • medical expenses, including expenses incurred under a health professional’s direction
  • dental care
  • prescription glasses (one pair per year) or contact lenses
  • artificial limbs, eyes or hearing aids for amounts that are not already covered by other government schemes or programs
  • wheelchair and mobility aids
  • ambulance cover
  • transport related costs, including public transport costs, and vehicle registration, repairs and insurance
  • private health insurance
  • regular funeral plan payments.

You cannot include:

  • amounts spent by a person, authorised to act on the your behalf, other than for your benefit.

Applying for financial hardship assistance

To apply for financial hardship assistance you must complete and lodge the relevant DHS application for financial hardship assistance form.

For home care packages and residential respite care, complete and lodge the Financial hardship assistance for home care and residential respite care (SA462) application form with DHS.

For aged care homes, complete and lodge the Financial hardship assistance for residential aged care (SA461) application form with DHS.


More information about the financial hardship application process is available on the DHS website.

Assessment process

Once DHS receives your application form it will be assessed within 28 days and they will give you the decision in writing.

If DHS needs more information to assess your application, they will complete the assessment within 28 days from receiving the extra information.

To receive a well-timed assessment, it is important to provide the correct documents and remember to sign the form.

Financial advice

You may want to check with a financial adviser about your finances. There are many government services and resources available to help you get appropriate financial advice. It’s a good idea to do some research to see what options work best for you.

Contacts

Department of Human Services please call 132 300 or 1800 227 475 (for regional callers).

Last reviewed: 19 September, 2018.