Hardship Supplement in Home Care

Page last updated: 18 September 2017

Care recipients that began receiving a home care package from 1 July 2014

The hardship supplement is available to home care recipients who are in genuine financial hardship and are unable to pay their costs of care due to circumstances beyond their control.

Each case is assessed on an individual basis, taking into consideration a range of issues which may be unique to the home care recipient.

Depending on their situation, they may apply for financial assistance with:

  • basic daily fee; and/or
  • income-tested care fee.

Where a home care recipient is granted financial hardship, the Australian Government will pay some or all of the care recipient’s aged care costs. The amount payable by the resident will be reduced by the amount paid by the Australian Government, including to zero.

If a care recipient changes service providers, their financial hardship supplement will automatically transfer with them.

Eligibility for financial hardship assistance

Care recipients will not be eligible for financial hardship assistance if they have:

  • not completed and lodged an Aged care fees income assessment (SA456) form (for home care packages and residential respite care) with the Department of Human Services (DHS) or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), or
  • assets (unless they are unrealisable assets) valued at more than $34,881.60 (from 20 September 2017), or
  • gifted:
    • more than $10,000 in the previous 12 months, or 
    • more than $30,000 in the previous 5 years.

Unrealisable assets         

If care recipients have assets valued at more than $34,881.60 (from 20 September 2017), they may be able to apply for an asset to be declared as ‘unrealisable’ as part of their hardship assessment. An asset is considered unrealisable if the care recipient cannot sell it or borrow against it.

  • 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 the care recipient applies for financial hardship assistance through DHS.

Essential expenses

If the care recipient meets the above criteria, DHS will check to see how much income they have access to after they have paid all of their essential expenses. If the care recipient has access to more than 15 per cent of the basic aged pension amount, they may not be eligible for financial hardship assistance. 

Essential expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • home care fees
  • food costs
  • costs relating to the home, including:
    • rent or mortgage repayments 
    • home maintenance, including repair and replacement costs 
    • home insurance 
    • rates 
    • water, sewage, 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, vehicle registration, vehicle repairs and vehicle insurance
  • private health insurance
  • regular funeral plan payments.

Essential expenses do not include:

  • amounts spent by a person, authorised to act on the care recipients behalf, other than for the benefit of the care recipient.

Applying for financial hardship assistance

To apply for financial hardship assistance the care recipient must complete and lodge the relevant DHS application 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 the Department of Human Services.

Assessment process

Once DHS receives the care recipient’s application form it will be assessed within 28 days and they will give the care recipient the decision in writing.

If DHS needs more information to assess the application, then the assessment will be completed 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.

Care recipients that received a home care package before 1 July 2014

Home care recipients who began a home care package before 1 July 2014 are not eligible for the hardship supplement. Rather, these home care recipients are able to negotiate lower fees with their provider as set out in Section 60-2(2)(c) of the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997. These provisions allow providers to consider the home care recipients’ other expenses such as high pharmaceutical bills, utilities and other living expenses when setting fees.

Contact

Enquiries can be made to the DHS customer line on 1800 227 475.

More information