What happens if you can’t afford aged care?


In Australia, everyone can access aged care services, regardless of their financial situation.

For those who do not have the means to pay for residential aged care there are options available.

What happens if you cant afford aged care

What does it cost to live in a nursing home or residential aged care facility?

There are four types of fees that you may have to pay to live in a nursing home or residential aged care facility:

Basic Daily Care Fee

All residents pay the same Basic Daily Care Fee that covers day-to-day living costs such as meals, cleaning, facilities management, and laundry. This fee is paid directly to the aged care facility (either by you or from your pension) and is set by the Government at 85% of the standard full aged pension.

Means-tested Care Fee

The means-tested Care Fee is calculated based on income and assets, including your home if you own one. If you have more than a certain amount of assets and income, you will pay a means-tested fee, which covers your personal and clinical care.

Accommodation costs:

A Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) or Daily Accommodation Payment (DAP) covers the cost of your room in a nursing home or residential aged care facility. You will need to pay a RAD or DAP if a means test determines that your income and assets are above a certain amount.

Extra/additional fees:

Many aged care homes have additional fees, for extras such as pay TV. These fees are usually optional and aren’t covered by government funding.

Here is more information about residential aged care fees and how they work:

Schedule of Fees and Charges for Residential and Home Care (agedcaredecisions.com.au)

How much does a nursing home cost in Australia? (agedcaredecisions.com.au)


How to apply for government funded aged care

Take these four steps to access government subsidised aged care:

1. Check your eligibility

To be eligible for a government-subsidised nursing home room, you must be aged 65 years or older, (or 50 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) and need help to maintain your health and wellbeing.

My Aged Care have an eligibility checker on their website, which lets you quickly check whether you meet the requirements for an assessment before you apply.

2. Complete an ACAT assessment

To apply for an assessment by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), you must register with My Aged Care and complete an application form either online or by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

The ACAT assessment is a face-to-face interview about your current circumstances and care needs.

Read more about ACAT assessments: ACAT Assessment Guide – everything you need to know (agedcaredecisions.com.au)

3. Complete an income and assets test

An income and assets (means) test determines whether you need to pay a Means-tested Care Fee, and whether the Government will contribute to your accommodation costs.

This assessment is completed by Services Australia or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). If you are receiving a means-tested pension from Centrelink or DVA you may not have to complete the income and assets test. Call Services Australia on 1800 227 475 or the DVA on 1800 555 254 before getting started.

Read more about income and assets tests: Income and means assessments | My Aged Care

4. Be approved and get your support plan and referral code

When you have been approved for a government subsidised room, you will receive a letter containing your support plan (as discussed during your assessment) and referral code/s.

From here you can find and select a government-supported room in a residential aged care facility that suits your needs.

Read more about finding and selecting a residential aged care facility: 3 easy steps to find aged care homes near me (agedcaredecisions.com.au)

Aged Care Decisions offers a FREE and independent service to help you find residential aged care vacancies that suit your budget, location and unique needs and preferences. We also offer valuable support and professional advice for all stages of your aged care journey.

Connect with us now for FREE aged care assistance.

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Frequently asked questions about paying for aged care in Australia

How can I find a financial advisor?

We highly recommend speaking to a financial advisor before entering residential aged care.

You can receive free financial information through Services Australia’s Financial Information Service (FIS): Financial Information Service – Services Australia

My Aged Care also has handy links to organisations, services and tools that can offer financial guidance, advice, and support: Financial support and advice | My Aged Care

Can I negotiate the cost of a nursing home?

You can negotiate accommodation costs and additional/extra fees with your chosen facility.

The Basic Daily Care Fee is set by the government and is not negotiable. The Means-tested Care Fee is determined by your assessed financial situation and is not negotiable.

How much savings can I have before I must pay for a nursing home?

There is no specific savings threshold for aged care in Australia. Savings will be considered part of an individual’s overall assets during income and assets assessments.

Can I avoid paying for aged care by giving away my assets or money?

In short, no. Giving away assets explicitly to avoid care fees is referred to as deprivation of assets.

Any assets given away prior to an aged care funding application will be assessed. If it is determined that the assets were given away to avoid fees, these assets may still be taken into consideration when deciding on eligibility for subsidised aged care services.

What if I run out of money, or can’t afford to pay ANY fees?

If, for reasons beyond your control, you can’t afford any aged care costs, you can apply for financial hardship assistance via Services Australia.

To be eligible for financial hardship assistance you must:

  • Complete an aged care means assessment if you haven’t already.
  • Have assets less than $41,496 (excluding unrealisable assets)
  • Have not gifted more than $10,000 in the previous 12 months, or more than $30,000 in the previous 5 years.

Services Australia can also check if you are eligible for financial assistance from other government programs, pensions, or benefits.

How do I apply for financial hardship assistance to cover the cost of aged care?

To apply for financial hardship assistance, you need to complete and lodge an Aged Care Claim for financial hardship assistance form SA462 with Services Australia.

Once they receive your application, it will be assessed within 28 days, and you will be notified by letter if you are eligible for assistance.

You can call Services Australia on 1800 227 475 to check on your application.

Read more about financial hardship assistance and how to apply: Financial hardship assistance | My Aged Care

What happens to elderly people who have no money in Australia?

The Australia Government is committed to ensuring we are all taken care of as we age.

While an individual with minimal means to pay for aged care may have less choices, the government will cover some, or all, of the fees and charges that relate to their care.

Aged Care Decisions takes the stress out of finding aged care vacancies for thousands of Australian families each month.

Our 100% FREE service uses custom-built software to match your budget, location, care needs and personal preferences with current nursing home vacancies. We then give you a tailored, interactive Options Report shortlisting aged care facilities or services for you to review, consider and compare.

No stress, no running around, and ZERO cost for you and your family.

Connect with Aged Care Decisions now to get started.

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