What are the next of kin’s responsibilities when paying for care?
Many worry that when a loved one requires a care home, as next of kin you’ll be liable for paying for the fees, However, this is not the case. Rest assured that neither a local authority nor a care home can impose legal liability for the next of kin to fund their partner’s care home fees from money held in their sole name.
What if care home fees exceed the value of the property being sold?
If you’re selling a house to pay for care, and the sale proceeds of the property, along with any other savings/capital, are above the upper means-test threshold (£23,250 in England), a person is classed as a self-funding resident.
Once their total reaches the upper threshold, they will be referred to their local authority to request ongoing support. The local authority may be able to provide an additional government top-up to cover the cost of the fees.
How do third-party top-ups work?
Third-party top-ups are private agreements made between a resident and their local authority. They are needed when a person eligible for local authority contributions opts to reside in a care home with a fee structure higher than the local authority is contracted to pay.
Third-party top-ups allow someone other than the person in care to cover the fee difference. To grant permission for this agreement, the local authority needs to be sure that the third-party payments are legal and sustainable.
What are the eligibility criteria for NHS-funded Nursing Care?
The main criteria for “FNC” (funded nursing care) are that a person must have a nursing care need and be residing in a nursing care home.
Can I claim Disability Allowance and Attendance Allowance at the same time?
Both benefits are paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and neither are means tested. However, it isn’t possible to be in receipt of both at the same time.
Can I claim Attendance Allowance whilst residing in a care home?
An individual can claim Attendance Allowance while living in a care home, however, this will stop if a person moves into an NHS hospital for longer than 28 days and/or becomes eligible for NHS Continuing Health Care.
What is the difference between NHS Continuing Healthcare and NHS-funded Nursing Care?
When a person meets the eligibility criteria for “Funded Nursing Care”, this is provided by the NHS, which makes a weekly payment to the person’s care home.
When an individual is eligible for Continuing Healthcare, the NHS will pay a much higher amount, which in a lot of cases will cover the full weekly fees.
How do I apply for NHS-funded Nursing Care?
You are able to make a request for NHS-funded nursing care through the care recipient’s GP. Alternatively, the home manager at your Avery care home can instigate the start of the process. Please note, however, they are unable to carry out the application assessment themselves.
How do I apply for local authority funding, and which local authority should I contact ?
If your relative is still living in their own home, you could ask the GP practice to help in advising on which local authority department to contact. If the person needing care is in the hospital, the “discharge coordination team” will be the best place to start.
The local authority with the initial responsibility is determined by where the care recipient was permanently based immediately before they needed care. Where there is doubt the local authority will check the Council Taxor electoral register.
Whilst it is possible for people to move areas, it is the initial local authority that must consent to the move beforehand.
Is there a six-month rule for claiming Attendance Allowance?
There is a six-month deferment period for this benefit, due to the requirement for needing to be demonstrated for at least six months before the payment can be made. The six-month period generally starts from the date the claim is made.
What happens if I run out of funds?
If your capital approaches, reaches, or falls below the upper capital threshold then you need to ask the local authority for support. They will carry out an assessment looking at your care need and then they will look at your affordability.
After this, assuming they agree there is a care need, they will pay a weekly contribution towards your care using their published maximums. From this amount, the local authority will deduct your includable income.
If this amount no longer covers the full costs of your existing care home fees, please advise the Home Manager as early as possible.
If I purchase an annuity, does this take into account any increases in care home fees?
The specialist individually underwritten annuities, known more generally as “Immediate Needs Annuities”, are designed to pay the care home directly on behalf of the resident. This means there isn’t any additional tax to pay by the policyholder (the resident).
It is possible when purchasing an Immediate Needs Annuity to build in an automatic annual increase. These increases can be set at a certain percentage, or if preferred they can be linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) or National Average Earnings. Your local Symponia member, or an Independent Financial Advisor would be able to discuss the implications and benefits of each option.
Is a private pension included in the means test?
Yes. If the person in care is single, widowed divorced, then their full pension will be included. If the person in care is married and their spouse is still alive and living at home, then 50% of their private pensions will be included in the assessment calculations.
Is Attendance Allowance means tested?
No, attendance allowance is not means tested.
Are stocks and shares included in a means test?
Yes. When the investments are held solely in the name of the care recipient then the full value is attributed to their assessment. For jointly held investments, the amount included is divided by the number of investors.
Are investments held in trust included in a means test?
This will depend on how, when, and why the trust was first established. Depending on the timing and the reasons behind the transaction, the investment itself could fall foul of the strict deliberate deprivation of assets rules.
Is the means test only for the individual who requires care, or does this include their spouse too?
If the person requiring care is living in a care home, there is no requirement for the spouse to declare any information about finances they have in their sole name.
It is slightly different for any jointly held assets though, as these will be divided either equally or in line with how the investment was initially transacted.
For more help and information about means testing – visit our ‘understanding means testing for care’ blog.
How do I contact Symponia?
We are pleased to work in partnership with Symponia, a network of hand-selected advisers who can offer advice on care fees planning. To locate your nearest Symponia member, ask your local Avery care home or use the Find-a-Member facility on www.symponia.co.uk. Just enter your postcode or town and the nearest members will be displayed.