I can’t afford aged care in Australia. What should I do?

Aged care is expensive. Let’s ensure you’ll receive the care you need, affordably.
I can’t afford aged care in Australia. What should I do?

Finding an aged care facility that ticks all your boxes and remains affordable feels almost impossible. It’s expensive, and when you’re no longer working, it can feel hard to justify the hefty price (even though you likely feel you have no choice but to make it work).

Luckily, you can receive financial support if you need it. Here’s what we know about paying for aged care in Australia, when you mightn’t be able to afford it.

What is financial hardship assistance for aged care?

We’re pretty lucky, here in Australia. Not only do we have some of the best healthcare in the world, but we also have a pretty great aged care system.

Put simply, if you aren’t able to afford aged care for reasons beyond your control, financial hardship assistance might be available to you. This means that the Australian Government will pay for some of – or all of – your aged care fees, depending on your situation, ensuring you’ll get the care you need.

How do I know if I’m eligible for financial hardship assistance?

Great question. You will not be eligible if:

  • You haven’t completed the Aged Care Calculation of your cost of care form. This form shows the government how much you’d be able to pay towards your own aged care costs.
  • Have assets valued at over $40,033.50 (feels a bit random, we know). This excludes unrealisable assets (these are assets you can’t sell or borrow against. For example, a house you own that has been on the market for six months).
  • You have gifted more than $10,000 in the past 12 months, or more than $30,000 in the past 5 years.

Sounds like I could be eligible. What should I do next?

Screenshot this next section – and off you go!

Step 1: Apply for financial hardship assistance by completing the relevant application form.

Step 2: Services Australia will then assess your application. You might hear from them if they need more information about your financial situation. Make sure to reply promptly if they do contact you – delays can be a little frustrating.

Step 3: Once Services Australia have finished their assessment, they’ll get in touch to let you know if your application has been successful.

What do I do if my application is unsuccessful?

We’d recommend getting in touch with Services Australia directly.

I’ve heard that I’ll still need to pay for ‘essential expenses’ when I go into aged care. What are these, and do I have to pay for them?

‘Essential expenses’ refer to your day-to-day living costs that, no matter what, need to be paid. These expenses vary depending on your personal circumstances.

Services Australia will check how much income you’ll have left over after paying your essential expenses. If you have access to more than 15% of the basic age pension amount (the equivalent of $140.52 per fortnight) after paying your expenses, you might not be eligible for assistance.

Wrap up

When applying for financial hardship assistance, it’s important to remember that each individual is assessed on a case-by-case basis. That means that cousin Jenna’s eligibility won’t determine your eligibility (fortunately or unfortunately for you).

It’s important to also take the time to seek financial advice if you need it, and to contact Services Australia with questions if you have any.

You can call Services Australia on 132 300 or 1800 227 475 (for regional callers). And you can find out more information about financial hardship assistance on this government website.

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