Will Means Tested Benefits Help Cover my Care Costs?

Long term care can mean several different things to different people. No two people have the exact same plan, as everyone has different care needs. Care can be temporary or it may be long term. Care can include simple help with daily chores around the house or it could mean extensive and serious medical assistance. There are also different needs depending on where care is received. While some consumers receive their care in a residential care home facility, others opt for care in the comfort of their own home if their condition and situation allows. No matter what type of care you need, you could be in a position to receive help from the local council or the NHS. Read on to find out more about the kind of help that you could be entitled to if you do in fact need long term care.

First, it is important to have a firm understanding of the needs tested help that can be provided by the NHS. This assistance is known as continuing care and is available to those who meet a nationally standardised assessment of needs. This assessment considers the number of needs as well as the level of those needs in a set of domains and areas. An individual must have a significantly high number and level of needs to qualify for fully funded continuing care from the NHS. This means that the consumer not only has a high number of needs but that those needs are of a high level, either individually or combined. This means that the consumer needs a great deal of attention and assistance.

Health and social care workers working with an individual must address the need for assessment if they feel that the consumer they are helping may be eligible for assistance. An assessment can then be carried out to check if all of the criteria are being met. Continuing care is completely free – the NHS is obliged to pay for all the services including care home fees. Again, the threshold for receiving fully funded care is quite high.

Means tested benefits are the primary resource for consideration towards long term care fees. For those who do not qualify for full funding through the NHS, the responsibility of care then falls to the local authority. If the local council has arranged to put you in residential care or to have you receive your care at home, it must conduct a means test to calculate how much the council needs to contribute towards the care. Of course, it may also be deemed that the local council does not have to contribute anything toward the care. The means test takes into account all the personal property owned by the individual, including real estate. If it is determined that the local authority does not have to contribute anything to care, you may be deemed a self-funder. In this case, it would be your responsibility to determine how to pay for your care in its entirety.

During the means testing process, only personally owned property is considered. If a house is jointly owned, half of the value of the home may be considered. Many consumers think that if they gift away their home or other valuable asset to their children or other beneficiary, they will be more likely to receive help in paying for their long term care. This act of deliberately reducing capital ahead of a means test is called deliberate deprivation of capital. However, this plan often backfires since there are regulations regarding deliberating liquidating assets for the sole purpose of receiving financial assistance. In the case of deliberate deprivation the council may consider the notional value of the capital that has been discarded or transferred. This means that you may have gifted away your asset and yet still not receive assistance. In order for this to take happen, it would have to be proven that you gave away your asset for the sole purpose of receiving help.

It is common to have to contribute, at least in part, toward the costs of your care. Thousands of people across the UK are also left in a position to self-fund their long term care entirely. Up-to-date details of the means test, as well as information about alternatives and options, can be found on various online resources provided by charities and local councils. It is always smart to work with a financial advisor once it has been determined that you will need long term care. In fact, it is best to talk with someone long before you know that you need care. Doing so can help you to best financially plan for the costs that you may incur from your long term care needs.