Low Means Aged Care –What You Need to Know

When it comes to aged care in Melbourne, there are two main categories when it comes to assessing the requirement to pay for care. These are ‘market price’ or ‘low means’. If assessed as having the means to pay market price, the resident is required to pay the market value for their aged care accommodation. This includes daily payments, lump sum or a combination of both. This basically means the full amount is paid by the resident. If however, the assessed resident can’t afford to pay market price, then the ‘low-means’ category applies. A contribution towards accommodation costs is determined through an income and assets test.  The Government then steps in to top up the shortfall to a pre determined maximim. It’s generally a pretty straight-forward distinction- the resident can either afford it, or they cannot.

Get financial and specialist aged care advice first

Reality for many is that they might in fact be sitting on the edge of the threshold. With the right advice and a few minor ‘tweaks’ to their financial situation it is possible to save thousands. It’s important to get the right advice, upfront and before the process starts. This is where seeking professional aged care advice from someone who truly understands the aged care system is vital. Aged Care Specialists Vic can fully assess the specific needs and provide thorough recommendations and optionsIt is crucial to do your due diligence BEFORE going into an aged care facility.  It can make a life changing difference to the families financial position.

And once officially assessed, the assessment generally cannot be changed.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of being assessed as ‘low-means’?

In most cases, if the resident is on the edge between the two, it is usually advantageous to do everything possible to be assessed as ‘low-means’. That way, there is likely to be significant savings on both the RAD and the daily rate. This often makes the financial considerations of going into aged care much simpler and easier. Firstly, being ‘low-means’ doesn’t put anyone at a disadvantage in terms of aged-care placements. Aged care facilities do not give preference when providing or allocating ‘spots’ according to how much or how little a prospective resident can pay. So, that’s a good thing! 

There is a flip side though. In some circumstances, if you’ve been assessed as a low-means resident and wish to upgrade to a more expensive (and nicer) room – you may not be allowed to. If the ‘better’ room costs more, your aged care facility may not be able to charge you more, nor can you choose to pay it. Which means you may need to stay in the room you are given. A market-price resident, however, may well be able to choose the room. Whether or not that matters to you or your loved one will come down to personal preferences, and how happy you are with the accommodation you’re going into.

Other aspects of means testing that are important to know…

The family home may or may not be included in the means test. If it is occupied by a ‘Protected Person’ such as a partner (husband or wife) or a dependent child then it won’t be included. There are also numerous other complexities that come into play when calculating income and assets that need careful evaluation. What’s relevant  depends entirely on their circumstances. The more specialist advice received as early as possible – the better the outcomes will be for all involved. It’s important to fully investigate all of your available options and get sound advice so you can make the best decisions for your circumstances. You can find out more about how the right advice can save you thousands here.

You don’t want to find out, that you’ve paid far more money than you needed to. Or made big decisions with long-term consequences that may result in disappointment and extra expense. If you would like to talk about your options, feel free to get in touch with us at Aged Care Specialists Vic. 

You can also find more information about aged care home costs and fees on the government website here.

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