Be aware of the benefits and disadvantages of being assessed as ‘low-means’ or Market price eligible

When it comes to residential aged care, you’re generally put into one of two main categories when it comes to what you need to pay for your care – ‘market price’ or ‘low means’.

If you’re assessed as being capable of paying market price, you are required to pay the market value for your aged-care accommodation (daily payments, lump sum or a combination of both) – which basically means you pay the full amount.

If however, you’re assessed as NOT being able to pay market price, you’re put into the ‘low-means’ category. You pay a contribution towards your accommodation costs through an income and assets test – with the Government topping up the shortfall, to a maximum of $56 per day.

It’s generally a pretty straight-forward distinction – you’re either able to pay your own way, or you’re not (and the Government will help out).

Yet in reality, you might in fact be sitting on the edge of the threshold, and with the right advice and a few minor ‘tweaks’ to your financial situation – you could in fact, save hundreds of thousands.

It’s important to get right, upfront.

Get the proper financial and specialist aged care advice first…

This is where seeking professional financial advice from someone who truly understands the aged care system, and can fully assess your specific needs, is crucial.

You need to do your due diligence BEFORE going into an aged care facility.  It can make a large difference on what your fees (and this of course applies to any parent or family member you might be caring for or assisting with this process).

And once you’re officially assessed as one or the other and move in, you cannot have that assessment changed.

Be aware of the benefits and disadvantages of being assessed as ‘low-means’…

Clearly, it’s most likely to your financial advantage if you’re on the edge between the two, to do everything in your power to be assessed as ‘low-means’. That way you’re likely to save a significant amount of money on both your Refundable Accommodation Deposit (which you pay upfront), and also pay a far cheaper daily rate.

Which often makes the financial considerations of going into aged care much simpler and easier.

There are however a few things to keep in mind.

Firstly, being ‘low-means’ doesn’t put you 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 your own personal preferences, and how happy you are with the accommodation you’re going into.

Other aspects of means testing that are important to know…

Your family home may or may not be included in your 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.

Plus, there are also numerous other complexities that come into play when calculating your income and assets, that need careful evaluation – what’s relevant to you depends entirely on your own circumstances.

Seeking advice early will achieve the best outcomes for you…

The more information you seek, and the more specialist advice you receive as early as possible – the better the outcomes will be for you (or your loved one).

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. 

We can give you the caring and detailed aged care financial advice that you need and look after the entire process for you. That way, you’ll never get lost in all the complexities and confusion surrounding aged care.