What unspent funds are
Unspent funds are held by either:
- the provider – these funds are split into the Commonwealth (subsidy) and care recipient (fees) portions
- the Government – in a home care account for the person.
You must keep track of the unspent funds you hold for a person.
For people who entered your care on or after 1 September 2021, you will hold only the care recipient portion of unspent funds.
On 1 September 2021, Services Australia created a home care account for each care recipient. This is where unspent Government subsidy and supplements accrue from 1 September 2021 onwards.
Between 1 September 2021 and 28 February 2022, you could opt in to return the Commonwealth portion of unspent funds. If you:
- opted in, the Government will track the Commonwealth portion for you
- did not opt in, you must report the unspent funds for each person when you submit your claims to Services Australia.
Why do unspent funds build up
Unspent funds build up if you have not allocated all the funds in a person’s individualised budget.
This can happen if the person:
- is planning for future events
- has received an automatic package upgrade and does not use the funds
- has taken leave from care
- has a personal situation that improves.
Planning for future events
You should use a person's budget to meet their current care needs. But a person can choose to set aside small amounts for future events, such as leave of a carer. These amounts are unspent funds until the future event occurs.
Automatic package upgrades
A person may receive services at a lower level than they are approved for. When a higher-level package becomes available, we automatically upgrade them. This means they get a higher amount of home care subsidy.
If you do not use the full value of the upgraded package, unspent funds can build up.
Care recipients can suspend their home care package if they take temporary leave.
Sometimes, they still receive the full home care subsidy for up to 28 days in a financial year. After this, they receive 25% of the subsidy. These amounts can build up as unspent funds.
How to manage unspent funds
Work with your care recipient to make sure they are getting the full benefit of their home care package to meet their assessed care needs.
Review their plan and budget
Work with your care recipient to review their care plan and individualised budget. Talk about the funds they have available and how to best spend those funds. This should be part of your ongoing care discussions with the person.
Respond to package upgrades
We will let you know if we are upgrading your care recipient’s package. When this happens, talk to your care recipient about their care needs as soon as possible.
They will not be disadvantaged because they can opt back in at any time. Their position in the national priority system is based on their original approval date and priority for home care.
If a person leaves your care
If a person leaves your care, you must transfer or return any unspent funds.
Care recipient portion
If the care recipient transfers to a new provider, you must transfer this portion to the new provider. You have up to 70 calendar days after the person’s departure to do this.
If the care recipient leaves the Home Care Packages Program, you must return this portion to the person exiting home care. You have up to 70 calendar days after the person’s exit to do this.
If the person has passed away, you must return this portion to the person’s estate. You have up to 14 calendar days after seeing the probate of will or letters of administration to do this.
You have up to 70 calendar days after the person’s departure to return this portion. If you:
- opted in (or your care recipient entered your care from 1 September 2021) – Services Australia will reconcile the outstanding amount through the claim period and return it to the Government
- did not opt in – you must create a ‘Commonwealth unspent amount on departure’ event (Services Australia will return the funds to the person’s home care account)
- do not hold any Commonwealth unspent funds – you must report a $0 amount to Services Australia.
You should not adjust the unspent funds amount in the departure month if the invoice amount is higher than the maximum contribution amount for that month. To find out more, see Reporting unspent funds for departed care recipients.
Calculating unspent funds
For guidance on calculating unspent funds and worked examples, go to subsidy estimator and unspent funds examples.
For full details, see the following in the Aged Care Act 1997:
- Division 22 – How does a person become approved as a care recipient?
- Division 23A – Introduction
- Division 48 – What is the amount of home care subsidy?
Also see Division 3A – Responsibilities of approved providers of home care – unspent home care amounts and exit amounts in the User Rights Principles 2014.