Means assessment for residential aged care

Residents entering permanent care need a means assessment to find out whether they are eligible for Australian Government support with their fees and accommodation costs. Read about who needs their means assessed and how assessments work.

Who needs their means assessed

Services Australia reviews the financial details of residents in permanent care to help work out:

  • the amount of funding you get from the government for a resident 
  • the amount of fees you can charge the resident. 

The means assessment will determine whether a resident qualifies for low means status and whether they:

  • need to pay a means tested care fee
  • are eligible for government support with their accommodation costs.

A resident needs a means assessment to receive financial hardship assistance with their aged care costs.

Residents entering your service for respite care do not need their means assessed unless they wish to apply for financial hardship assistance. 

Included income and assets

For details about what income and assets are included in the aged care means assessment, refer your residents to:

A refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) or refundable accommodation contribution (RAC) counts as an assessable asset in the aged care means assessment. 

This means payment of a RAD or RAC can affect a resident’s means tested care fee – even if the lump sum is paid by a family member or other individual. 

You should advise residents and their families to seek financial advice before deciding how to pay for their aged care fees and accommodation costs.

Getting assessed

Services Australia administers the aged care means assessment for most people. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) administers the assessment for DVA clients. 

Residents can submit an Aged care calculation of your cost of care form to Services Australia or DVA either before or after entering aged care. 

Services Australia and DVA already have the financial details of residents who receive a means tested payment such as the age pension. These residents may not need to complete a form to have their means assessed.

If a person cannot complete a means assessment form due to physical or mental disability, a third party may complete and sign the form on their behalf. The third party must register with Services Australia or DVA as a nominee for that person to act on their behalf.  

The authorising a person or organisation form (SS313) lists people who can complete a means assessment and financial hardship form on someone’s behalf, such as a social worker.

Timing and fee advice letters

A resident who has a means assessment before they enter your service should have a fee advice letter from Services Australia, even if the means assessment was completed by DVA. The letter will state whether they need to pay a means tested care fee and what they need to contribute towards their accommodation costs. 

After you submit a resident’s Aged Care Entry Record, Services Australia will send a fee advice letter outlining the fees they can pay to your service. 

If a resident has a means assessment after entering your service, Services Australia tells both you and the resident the outcome in a fee advice letter. 

You may choose to collect an interim means tested care fee from the resident while you wait for the means assessment to be completed.

Interim subsidy

Once the assessment is complete, Services Australia will set the means tested care fee at either the resident’s means tested amount or their cost of care, whichever is lower.

When a person first enters your care, you will receive an interim subsidy until the resident’s Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) class of care funding is determined. You will then be paid the applicable subsidy (including any primary supplements) minus the resident’s means tested care fee. This payment will be backdated to the date the resident entered your service.

Services Australia will either:

  • deduct subsidy amounts already paid from future payments if you owe money
  • add subsidy amounts to future payments if they owe you money.

Means not disclosed

A resident can choose not to disclose their financial information. These residents will have ‘means not disclosed’ status, and you can ask them to pay:

  • the maximum means tested care fee based on their cost of care
  • the agreed accommodation price.

The default means tested care fee for a resident with a status of ‘means not disclosed’ is set to the maximum subsidy reduction under AN-ACC. This means the sum of:

Once the resident is classified, Services Australia will amend the resident’s means not disclosed amount to their true adjusted basic subsidy plus primary supplements.

Services Australia will either:

  • deduct subsidy amounts already paid from future payments if you owe money
  • add subsidy amounts to future payments if they owe you money.

If a resident later has their means assessed and is found to be eligible for government support, you must refund them any overpaid amounts from the increased subsidy payment you receive. This change may be backdated to the day they entered care.


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