Don’t Change Primary Addresses Until Your Read This!

contemplating whether to should you keep or sell your home while considering the move into aged care

Let’s look at Stanley

Stanley’s situation regarding permanent aged care was a big issue for him. However, Stanley’s dilemma was easily resolved. The assistance of a skilled advisor helped greatly. He found one qualified in how the aged care system works, with experience in the social security system. This experience can prove invaluable.

Stanley lived independently at home. He got to a point where he required assistance. He was assessed and was in receipt of a level 4 home care package.  Over time as his health declined, Stanley found it more and more difficult to manage at home.  Covid issues meant that Stanley and his family delayed his entry to permanent residential aged care, even though he had been re-assessed as requiring it. As an interim measure, Stanley moved in with one of his two daughters who both acted as his carers. He continued to receive his level 4 home care package, with his daughters ensuring that he kept connected with his own home. This was very important to Stanley. His daughters took their dad back home for a couple of nights every two weeks.

Their mistake!

Stanley now spent most of his time at his daughter’s residence. The family changed his mailing address with Centrelink to continue to get his mail.  As an unintended consequence of the change of address, Stanley’s age pension ceased. According to Centrelink, Stanley had left his permanent place of residence. This was then counted as an assessable asset, meaning that he was no longer eligible to receive the pension.  

For several months, Stanley received no pension payments! His family innocently assumed this to be correct and therefore did not question the matter. Their focus was on their dad’s wellbeing and his care needs being met. They felt that their father not being entitled to receive any further pension payments was just an unfortunate. An unexpected price to pay.

What happened next?

Eventually Stanley’s daughters realised that he could no longer be effectively cared for at home. He required immediate permanent residential aged care, where the matter of his pension payments was discussed. Stanley’s family sought the assistance of Marlene Zwarts a qualified aged care financial professional at Nixon Financial Services.  Marlene worked with Stanley’s daughters to prepare a timeline of events and then met with Centrelink to explain his situation. 

Centrelink’s provisions around exempting the principal home allow for an income support recipient to vacate their principal home to enter a care situation, and for the home to continue to be an exempt asset under the assets test for a 2-year period.  The provision applies whether the person in question intends to return to their principal home, and the care in question does not have to be provided by a residential aged care facility.  If after 2 years, the person has not returned to their home, the home becomes an assessable asset.  

Marlene was able to assist Stanley’s daughters to request that Centrelink investigate. They requested a review of the circumstances of their decision. As a result his pension payments were reinstated and retrospective payments were made. 

A good outcome!

Miscommunication can result in errors being made by organisations, care recipients or carer. These errors can have severe financial and emotional implications for those affected. 

Aged care financial professionals have the financial, personal and technical skills to assist. In some cases they can restore financial and emotional peace of mind.

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