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Knowing how and why to get an ACAT Assessment

Article By Brett Moxey | | Financial Planning

How to get an ACAT assessment, and why it may be your ticket to a happier life and more independent living.

Considering Aged Care facilities or retirement villages is important as you age. The government has also increased their support to stay at home longer and receive in home care as an alternative to entering an Aged Care facility early. Knowing what the costs are and the best approach to take can be complex. Completing the ACAT assessment is the first step of this process. This allows you to access government funded services including in home care, respite care, transition care, and entry to residential aged care. The ACAT will help meet the costs involved by advising you of your eligibility for each service and any subsidies you could receive.

Why might I need an ACAT assessment?

As you age, living without support may become more difficult meaning it could be time to ask for a little help. Asking for help doesn’t have to mean losing autonomy and control over your life, it is quite the opposite. Receiving support to complete daily life tasks can mean you are able to live the life you want in your home, safely and easily. Support as you age can be with shopping and cooking, with personal care to bath, dress, and get in and out of bed or even modifications to improve your safety and movement around the home.

An ACAT assessment may be your ticket to a happier and more independent life both in your home and in the world.

Eligibility for these services is based on:

  • Noticing a change in what you can do or remember
  • A diagnosis of a medical condition or reduced mobility
  • A change in family care arrangements
  • A recent fall or hospital admission

How do I access these services?

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme or a Home Care Package. An assessment process determines what program is more suitable for you. Check if you meet the requirements for an assessment, or if you are ready, apply for an assessment now.

What is the income and assets assessment test for ACAT?

The assets and income test will calculate what subsidies you are eligible for and therefore the costs to you for your selected services.

Why get an income and assets test?

This test will allow you to receive aged care government subsidies via the means-tested fee calculation. Without this test, aged care fees are much higher, currently up to $260 per day.

If Centrelink/the DVA already knows my information, why do I need to submit a form?

The three main reasons are that Centrelink may have no information regarding the value of your home, a “protected person” may be living in your home, or Centrelink may have no information about you.

When Should I Get an Income and Assets Test?

There is no need to wait for an assessment if immediate care is required. The process will take at least six weeks. It is advisable to lodge your assessment as soon as possible once required. An assessment is only valid for 120 days once lodged.v Assessments can be done after someone enters care and can be updated later.

How To Get an Income and Assets Test?

You are required to lodge either a form from the Centrelink website or make a phone call to Centrelink to recieve an income and assets test.

Some of the required forms are up to 21 pages long and quite comprehensive. They hold a great significance in determining Aged Care fees. We feel it is vital to get expert financial advice with this as there are strategies to minimize aged care fees and maximise Centrelink support.

Required Information

Providing details of your income and assets with supporting documents will initially be required.

These details may include any information around income from any sources (government payments, rental properties, pensions, businesses, superannuation, shares, or trusts)

Assets may be described as bank accounts, cash, term deposits, cheque accounts, bonds, managed investments, listed shares and securities, unlisted public company shares, gold and other bullion, or gifted assets including gifts above $10,000 in the last financial year or $30,000 in the last five financial years.

Getting Started

Complete the income and assets assessment process online by visiting myagedcare.gov.au. Alternately, you can call Services Australia on 1800 227 475 and ask to have the relevant form posted to you.

Once you have submitted the form, Centrelink will determine if you are eligible to receive a subsidy for some or all the aged care costs.

Keep in mind

If you receive no response from Centrelink in relation to assessment within six weeks, you should contact them for an update on progress. Before speaking to a Centrelink representative you may have waiting times of up to two hours.

Inaccurate or overstated fees may come back in your assessment. Centrelink representatives often make mistakes, resulting in higher Aged Care fees than required. As most people don’t know how to calculate what the fees should be, errors can go unnoticed.

Can I Get Assistance?

At Altitude Advisers, we can help take over the stress of dealing with Centrelink.

How Altitude can assist:

  • Become the nominee so that we can address any issues during the assessment period.
    Update Centrelink/DVA.
  • Submit the required financial documents for you.
  • Minimise unnecessary delays by making follow-up contact
  • Check the assessment for errors (Centrelink can often make errors).
  • Check the aged care home invoices to make sure they have received the correct information from Centrelink.
  • Update Centrelink if you have implemented any strategy, such as paying towards the RAD or selling assets.

If dealing with Centrelink documents and the thought of chasing up Centrelink for weeks on end seems all too hard, then please do not hesitate to give us a call.